Boehner, McConnell Hand Obama The Advantage
As Deacon suggested several days ago, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have revealed their true agenda by rejecting President Obama's grand bargain of a $4 trillion debt reduction package late yesterday. Both Boehner and McConnell were clear that the GOP now wants only a smaller package made up of only spending cuts, and will not support any additional tax revenue, even from the closing of loopholes.
In other words, Obama rolled the dice and won. He was finally able to show the GOP agenda for what it is: a fraud that has nothing to do with reducing the debt, and everything to do with making sure corporations and the wealthy keep treating the federal treasury and Main Street as their ATM. The GOP had a $4 trillion opportunity on the table and whiffed. For their part, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi can also breathe easier, knowing now that they can take serious changes to Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid off the table, as a direct result of Boehner and McConnell's rejection of what Obama offered.
What will happen next? To maintain their negotiation posture and leverage, the administration this morning is insisting that Obama still wants the bigger deal so that real debt reduction can be achieved through shared sacrifice. The GOP now wants to pick up where the Biden talks left off at the time Eric Cantor walked out, but they conveniently ignore that any debt and spending reduction agreed to also were conditioned upon GOP acceptance of new revenue from the closure of tax loopholes. The White House now has all this week to hammer the GOP that any deal will include a debt extension through 2012 as well as that new revenue.
The GOP rejection has allowed the Democrats to reposition the debate onto favorable turf for them, and to reframe the narrative to show that the GOP is only interested in manipulating a debt crisis to make Main Street pay for more benefits for the wealthy and corporations. Democrats can now summarily reject any criticism by the GOP about deficits and the debt by pointing to their rejection of the best opportunity they'll get between now and the next election, when the talking points against GOP incumbents will be well established.
With polls showing the public supports closing loopholes and making the wealthy do their share, and against cutting benefits for debt reduction, will the White House profit from this, or snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?