Obama Issues Threats But Concedes Little In Fiscal Cliff Talks


While I have written much on the GOP's lack of leadership in the fiscal cliff talks, mainly because I want people to get behind them to push them to do the right thing, not what is politically expedient, it must also be pointed out the other side's unwillingness to compromise as they demand that of the Republicans.

The Wall Street Journal reports,

A review of the negotiations, based on interviews with a dozen aides and lawmakers, suggests the problems lay in Mr. Boehner's inability to coax his rank-and-file to support a deal that raises taxes on higher-income Americans. Another factor was what Republicans saw as President Obama's unwillingness to bend when a deal was in sight, jamming the speaker with a deal his party couldn't swallow.

The negotiations offer little evidence November's election brought the president and House Republicans closer together. If anything, the talks poisoned an already distrustful relationship.

The report by Patrick O'Connor and Peter Nicholas went on to read, "Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn't reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault."

At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, "I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?"

"You get nothing," the president said. "I get that for free."

Guy Benson points out that:

On the White House walking away from the broad outlines of a bipartisan "balanced" deal they tentatively embraced during the debt fight of 2011:

The same sticking points kept rearing up—the White House insisting on more tax revenue than Republicans could stomach, and the Republicans demanding deeper cuts than the White House would accept. During one session in the Capitol with White House's legislative liaison Rob Nabors, Mr. Loper from the Boehner camp asked, referring to a near-deal during last year's debt-ceiling fight: "Can you get back into the zone of where you were in July 2011?" "No," Mr. Nabors replied. "We were probably overextended then, and there's no way we would do it now."

On Obama's nonchalant shrug in the face of serious, specific Republican concessions:

That night, the speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) decided to make the biggest concession so far. As the country the next day digested news of a brutal school shooting in Connecticut, Mr. Boehner called the president and for the first time offered to let tax rates rise—on income above $1 million. The president acknowledged the concession but said Mr. Boehner's plan wasn't raising enough revenue. News broke the next night both about the concession and that the speaker was willing to extend the borrowing limit. On Sunday, the White House sent a plane to fly Mr. Boehner back to Washington for a morning appointment with the president on Monday, the day it now appears the deal fell apart. In that session, the president held firm for $1.2 trillion in additional tax revenue, a second step down from his original offer. Mr. Boehner asked for another $100 billion in spending cuts but couldn't get a commitment. Finally, the speaker said, "Well, you and I can sit here and stare at each other," or he could leave and they would talk later. Back in the Capitol, Mr. Boehner told Mr. Cantor the president wasn't moving. They agreed to call him. On the call, Mr. Boehner restated he needed $1 in spending cuts for every $1 in revenue raised. He dropped a prior demand to increase the Medicare eligibility age. The president told Mr. Boehner that he was willing to make some concessions on taxes and spending, but cautioned that they needed to retain Democratic votes for the bill to pass.

So the issue is that there is nothing the Republicans can offer this man that he is willing to agree to, even though Boehner has pretty much offered him virtually everything he has wanted, including the Pelosi approved "Plan B." Our debt crisis that is occurring at least twice annually now is because there has not been a budget accepted in the past four years. Congress has not stood up and shut things down to get it and the White House and Democrat Controlled Senate haven't budged on the issues to come to a budget that is supposed to be legally-mandated, but then it doesn't seem that our leaders really push for following the Constitution anymore. It looks as if there will be no deal. I don't expect the Republicans to simply shut things down, since that hasn't occurred before, nor do I expect Barack Obama and the Democrats to actually come up with something that works, since they haven't previously. It looks like we are going over the cliff, despite the rhetoric we hear about "ongoing talks."

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