Presumably refreshed by their Christmas break and full of good will toward men (and women), President Barack Obama and members of the U.S. Senate have returned to Washington to begin anew their efforts to avoid the dreaded fiscal cliff.
As for the folks in the House of Representatives, they’re not going back to work just yet.
And who could blame them? When they’re in session, all they seem to do is embarrass themselves and particularly the Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
We believe Boehner to be a pretty decent guy who wants to be a good Speaker and do right by the country. That’s not a unanimous sentiment, of course, but it’s not his political enemies who are making his job impossible, it’s his supposed friends on the Republican side of the aisle.
The crux of his disagreement with the president and other Democrats is raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, something that is anathema to GOP orthodoxy.
Before leaving for Christmas recess, Boehner decided to push what he called “Plan B,” in which no taxes would be raised on anyone making less than $1 million a year. Knowing it had no chance of passing in the Democratic Party-controlled Senate, it was to be a public relations salvo to show that the Republicans were serious about avoiding the financial cliff.
Unfortunately for Boehner, about 50 Tea Party members of his GOP majority in the House are more concerned about adhering to their “no raising taxes” pledge than actually contributing to governing the country.
Boehner and his party’s leadership couldn’t garner enough votes to raise taxes, even on millionaires, and he had to ignominiously withdraw the bill before a vote could be taken.
We just had an election on which Obama ran on the issue of increasing rates on those making more than $250,000 a year … and won. What’s more, polls have shown from 52 to 70 percent of Americans support his position. Obama compromised to raise his offer to affect those making more than $400,000 and made a serious concession on Social Security that angered some of his supporters.
Wednesday’s Gallup daily tracking poll showed that 54 percent of Americans support how Obama is dealing with the fiscal cliff talks. Only 26 percent approve of what Boehner has done.
It’s not really fair. Boehner is in a tough place, given the Tea Party reps who aren’t letting him negotiate in good faith. So negotiations are being left for now with the Senate, where Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t fared much better, having recently filibustered a proposal he, himself, introduced.
You can’t make this stuff up. Meanwhile, the fiscal cliff looms.