Friday, December 21, 2012

In the House, the Speaker Doesn't Have the Votes

Yesterday John Boehner attempted to outflank the President by passing his own plan to avoid the tax increases scheduled to take place on January 1. He proposed letting taxes rise to the old, Clinton-era rates for those with incomes over $1 million, which is about 400,000 households. But so many conservatives refused to consider even this tax  increase that he lacked the votes to pass it. So he closed the House, went home for Christmas and suggested that the President and the Senate work out something.

Which is rich, because Obama and Harry Reid already have such a plan, and Boehner has already rejected it. Even reliable Republican hack Jennifer Rubin wrote,
This is a party acting like a minority party, or worse, like petulant teenagers. . . . Perhaps Boehner should quit and let the House GOP stew and watch as the country grabs pitchforks and torches to come after the tax-hikers.
I feel for Boehner, and I think he is trying. But he is one of many who encouraged his fellow Republicans to act this way by his extreme rhetoric against the President ("destroying the nation I grew up in") and his embrace of Tea Party activists. It is hard to call your opponents socialists out to destroy America one day and then make a deal with them the next. In this fiasco, as in the earlier one over the debt ceiling, you see the real damage done to our political process by thoughtless anger and senselessly bitter words. Grownups should know better.

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