Sunday, March 18, 2012

Obama poison-pilled the debt compromise

There's a remarkable behind-the-scenes story in the WashPost about the secret meetings between House speaker John Boehner and President Obama.  It looked like Boehner and House majority leader Eric Cantor were going to sign up for hundreds of billions in tax hikes in exchange for significant changes to entitlement programs, which comprise the major drivers of future deficit spending.  And then.....
What happened? Obama and his advisers have cast the collapse of the talks as a Republican failure. Boehner, unable to deliver, stepped away from the deal, simple as that.
But interviews with most of the central players in those talks — some of whom were granted anonymity to speak about the secret negotiations — as well as a review of meeting notes, e-mails and the negotiating proposals that changed hands, offer a more complicated picture of the collapse. Obama, nervous about how to defend the emerging agreement to his own Democratic base, upped the ante in a way that made it more difficult for Boehner — already facing long odds — to sell it to his party. Eventually, the president tried to put the original framework back in play, but by then it was too late. The moment of making history had passed.
To be fair: it would have been equally difficult for Boehner to sell tax hikes to the House as it would have been for Obama to sell Medicare cuts to the Democrats.  But then the White House tried to pass off the heavy lifting to the "Gang of Six" and then to the Supercommittee.  When the whole deal fell apart, Obama took to the airwaves and - how can I put this? - lied about how the Republicans wanted a "cuts only" approach to deficit reduction.

Powerline has more commentary on the "grand bargain" and how Obama treated Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi as bit players during his negotiation follies.

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