Still time for Boehner to put country before politics
Just before Christmas, 40 or so House Republicans embarrassed House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio by sinking his so-called “Plan B” for deficit reduction.
These members – whom Ohio Republican congressman Steve LaTourette called “the same chuckleheads who have screwed this place up” – made it clear they won’t increase taxes even on those earning more than $1 million per year.
Never mind that these millionaires and billionaires constitute less than 3/10 of 1% of the population. Never mind that every mainstream economist, whether Republican or Democratic, says deficit reduction should include new revenue as well as spending cuts. And never mind that every public opinion poll taken since the November election shows that at least 60% of the American people want to see tax rates increased for the richest Americans. For Tea Party Republicans, “compromise” means “my way or the highway.” (For analysis on how the Fiscal Cliff would affect Ohioans, see our recent report.)
So what now? House Speaker Boehner says its “up to the Senate and the President” to come up with a solution.
But there are now only a handful of days left before the country hurtles over the fiscal cliff. And Mr. Boehner’s extremist wing has amply proved that it will not accept ANY solution that involves new revenue. In other words, Tea Partiers believe every dime of deficit reduction should come from budget cuts. But cuts that large would be all but certain to cast the economy back into recession. Neither the President, the Senate, nor the American people themselves will stand for a “cuts only” approach.
Which means that if the country is going to avoid the December 31 cliff, only one course of action is left.
Boehner and the President should cut a deal along the lines they were so close to agreeing on before the ill-fated Plan B debacle. Boehner should then bring that agreement to the House floor for a vote – and use Democratic as well as non-Tea Party Republican votes to get it passed. Roughly 200 House Republicans seemed prepared to vote for Plan B. Most of them would likely also support a “grand bargain” worked out between Speaker Boehner and the President. Combined with the roughly 200 House Democrats who would likewise support it, the plan could be sent to the Senate for approval, with the President’s signature quickly following.
There’s still time to avert the Cliff. The question is whether Speaker Boehner is prepared to put the good of the country over politics as usual.