The President held a news conference yesterday. Exhibiting the leadership qualities that his critics have long questioned, the President made it clear that he was willing to take the heat from his own party and move beyond ideology in order to get a deal. He challenged Republicans to do the same.
The President made it clear that entitlements, the sacred cow of Democratic politics, were on the table. But he said that changes in entitlements and domestic spending cuts had to be met with increases in tax revenue from the wealthiest citizens. He made it clear that he would veto any short term deal which “would just kick the problem down the road for future generations.” “It’s time to eat our peas” the President said. “If not now, when. It’s not going to get any easier.”
The Republicans dismissed the President’s comments as little more than campaign rhetoric. Speaker Boehner scoffed at the President’s words, calling his demand for increased revenue “job killing tax increases.” “The way to resolve the debt issue is to grow the economy, increase jobs, cut taxes and broaden the base.” “It takes two to tango”, the Speaker said.
The Republicans have an internal problem and it is impeding a deal on the debt ceiling. Speaker Boehner and traditional Republicans are open to a compromise. But they are thwarted at every turn by Majority Leader Eric Cantor and the 87 Tea Party freshmen members who refuse to raise the debt ceiling under any terms. Boehner and Cantor do not get along. Their brazen attempts to throw each other under the proverbial bus are almost comical. Boehner sent Cantor into the Biden Deficit Talks hoping Cantor would shoulder the blame and incur the Tea party wrath for any compromise that included a tax increase. Cantor walked out, showing up Boehner, and forcing Boehner to re-enter the fray and assume the position of whipping boy. Cantor wants Boehner’s job; and if the debt ceiling compromise includes tax increases, he’ll get it.
But we digress.
Boehner is right…it does take two to tango. But Republicans won’t stay on the dance floor. They walked out of the Gang of Six deficit meetings; they walked out of the Biden Deficit Talks; and then after agreeing to join with the President to craft a “Grand Bargain” they backed off that in favor of a much smaller deal. They talk about reaching a deal but they won’t stay at the table long enough to get it done.
They call the President’s desire to repeal the Bush Tax cuts as “job killing.” But the Bush tax cuts have been in place for a decade. Where are the jobs? The answer is…overseas. That’s where the Republican benefactors have spent their tax savings. They have built factories and created jobs in foreign lands while the American people struggle to make ends meet.
And the Speaker is being disingenuous when he talks about creating jobs. The Republican controlled House has not offered one job creating bill since taking control of the chamber. They have proffered legislation on gay marriage, English as our national language and numerous anti-abortion bills…but not one bill to create jobs.
The President successfully positioned himself as the adult in the room. He is the pragmatist willing to put his party’s most sacred programs on the table for the good of the country. Now we’ll see if the Republicans can put aside their internal squabbles, cease with the temper tantrums and meet the President half way.