It’s obvious that the “revenue increases” contained within the Fiscal Cliff plan aren’t going to do much to cover the government’s spending problem, even if the government gets a second job waiting tables at an all night trucker diner, but it turns out that that was pretty much part of the plan all along, because while Republicans were waffling between letting the country go over the Cliff, with the promise of stiff economic consequences at the bottom, the Democrats were just trying to figure out which of the proposed tax hikes they could manage to table while talking up the Bush tax cuts they spent most of their lives opposing.
This morning, in the wake of not signing the bill and jetting off to Hawaii to spend more of the taxpayers money, Barack Obama made it crystal clear that he intends to get the rest of the hikes one way or another so that the government can continue to operate in the black for approximately eight more hours. This time, though, despite the number of tactics he tried during the Fiscal Cliff negotiations, I suspect he’s going to stick with the one that earned him the most success: being an asshole.
In the meetings between Boehner and Obama, a GOP aide recalled, “The president does the vast bulk of the talking and spends a lot of time trying to talk Boehner into Democratic positions, which is a complete waste of time.” Boehner would say, ‘Here’s where I am and here’s where I can go,’ and Obama would launch into an explanation of the superiority of Democratic Party philosophy. The speaker worked better with Pelosi. They talked practicalities, not philosophy.
The president spoke almost the entire 50-minute meeting, telling Republicans that if he did not get an agreement he liked, he would spend the next four years blaming them for what could turn into a global recession. The blame game would begin in earnest with his Inaugural Address and would follow up with a repeat performance in the State of the Union, a GOP source recalled. If they deny him now, he said, he would block future spending cuts for the next four years. “I put $800 billion on the table. What do I get for that?” Boehner asked. “You get nothing. I get that for free,” said Obama, adding that would not raise the Medicare eligibility age or cut Medicaid.
Boehner challenged the president for backtracking on the spending cuts and entitlement reforms he was willing to propose during 2011’s debt ceiling debate. Obama conceded moving left, but argued the election had changed the political landscape.
Boehner opened the meeting by telling Obama that it hurt the negotiations when Senate Democrats gave the press details from their meetings. Obama said he had nothing to do with the leaks, according to Republicans. And, instead of working from the joint document drawn up by their staffs, Obama came to the meeting with a new, separate offer — a move Republicans took as a show of bad faith.
When you can work more easily with Nancy Pelosi, that’s saying something.