“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
House Speaker John Boehner made a terrible bet, and he paid for it on Thursday night. Instead of continuing to negotiate with President Obama, working towards a compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” which is not really a cliff at all, the Republican cat-herder pulled the plug on good-faith efforts and took his chances with what he called Plan B.
When his own party bucked his leadership, he called together his cohorts into a windowless room and told them he didn’t have the votes. He’d been bested by Republicans — not Democrats, not the White House. He then recited the Serenity Prayer, often heard at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. But you know what they say: Serenity Now, Insanity Later.
The National Review’s Robert Costa has the inside scoop on Boehner’s night: “My buddies and I said the same thing to each other,” a Boehner ally told me later. “We looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and just groaned. This is a disaster.” You’ll shake your head, but it’s worth a read.
President Obama made three separate offers to Boehner, reducing the amount of revenue he’d like to raise via taxes from $1.6 trillion to $1.4 trillion to $1.2 trillion, and he raised the minimum tax threshold from $250,000 a year to $400,000. He even threw in something called chained CPI, which pissed off fellow Democrats. Boehner and Obama weren’t *that* far apart!
Speaker Boehner bucked, though, and he could not even round up the votes in his own party to pass a weak-sauce stop-gap that would only allow tax rates on those making more than $1 million to go up. Not even that.
Want to know why these talks fell apart? House Republicans are lost. Simply lost. On Morning Joe today, freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp showed why no deal can ever be crafted with House Republicans — they are not willing to compromise on anything. This is unacceptable:
Extremists like Huelskamp are not the majority of the Republican Party, and it’s likely that any deal could combine Democrats with some part of the GOP caucus. So a deal is not out of reach, but even if a deal on the fiscal cliff does occur, what does this tell us about the future of this Congress?
Serenity Now, Insanity Later.
Now it’s up to Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConell to work with President Obama on avoiding the fiscal cliff. There is little hope.