So Plan B went down in a ball of flames last night. At his press conference this morning Speaker John Boehner pointed out that the House passed a bill in August that would have left tax rates the same for everyone. Of course, the Democrats call that “giving tax cuts to the rich” which is a lie, but regardless, Harry Reid refused to allow a vote in the Senate. Just like he vowed to not let Plan B get a vote in the Senate if it passed the House. President Obama also promised to veto Plan B, because it didn’t raise taxes on enough Americans and he refuses to curb spending.
Boehner also reminded us who is running Washington, DC, and it’s not the Republicans. Boehner’s leadership is certainly questionable, but the buck stops with Obama, as noted by The Wall Street Journal.
To put this in raw political terms, Mr. Boehner offered to break a core GOP principle on taxes and Mr. Obama offered him nothing he could take back to his rank-and-file in return. Mr. Boehner is a political leader, not a dictator, and he needs to persuade Members, not beat them into submission.
The Speaker’s miscalculation was that, just as in 2011, he thought he could get into a room with the President and negotiate a grand bargain. His intentions were good but he misjudged the all-or-nothing ideological nature of this Presidency. After the debacle of 2011, Mr. Obama could have treated the negotiations as the art of the bipartisan deal that could set the stage for immigration reform and other second-term achievements. Flush with victory, he could have at least made a gesture on entitlements.
Instead, he has treated the talks as an extension of the election campaign, traveling around the country at rally-style events at which he berates Republicans for not accepting his terms of surrender. Grant gave Lee more at Appomattox.
Plan B was Mr. Boehner’s attempt to salvage some political dignity and a policy victory or two in return for conceding on tax rates. The bill wasn’t even technically a vote to raise taxes because the rates are set to rise automatically on January 1 if Congress does nothing. The bill also kept the estate tax at 35%, rather than going up to 55% as now scheduled, and it made the tax cuts on lower incomes permanent.
With a narrow deal on taxes, Mr. Boehner figured he could live to fight another day on spending. But it is a measure of the mistrust the President has engendered that many Republicans didn’t want to give up even this much on taxes in return for nothing at all. (Read More)
I read somewhere that Nancy Pelosi whipped the vote on Plan B as hard as she did on Obamacare, which goes to show how hard the Democrats were willing to go to kill this compromise bill. This, even though as recently as this past summer she offered a compromise almost identical to Plan B. This is a dangerous game the Democrats are playing. Unfortunately, the media continues to provide them cover.