It’s beginning to look a lot like 2011. John Boehner is holding the football, Obama runs toward it, and just as he is about to kick it, Boehner pulls the ball away, and “Aaugh!” I’ve long argued that these Fiscal Cliff negotiations are all for show. No deal that Boehner gets will be acceptable to his caucus. I’m sure that Boehner understands this. Alas, Obama apparently does not.
Just like in 2011, Obama has made major concessions. In this case, they are almost unbelievable. He is willing to cut Social Security and raise middle class taxes by going along with chained-CPI. He’s raised the tax level at which he wants to raise rates from $250,000 to $400,000. And of greatest concern, he has folded on the debt ceiling, publicly acknowledging that, yes, the Republicans really can hold the American economy hostage. I don’t see how Obama walks these offers back.
Now I feel more certain than ever that these negotiations will move into January. The problem is that Obama’s last offer will be the starting point for Boehner next year. So we’ll get something like, “You use chained-CPI, raise the Medicare eligibility age, and raise the top tax rate to 37% for incomes over a million dollars. In return, we won’t fight you on the debt ceiling for a year and half. Deal?” And Obama will take it.
And Boehner will again pull the ball away. And why shouldn’t he? The Republicans can just wait a month and use the debt ceiling to force Social Security to be privatized, raise Medicare eligibility up to 90, and repeal Obamacare. What’s the president going to do? Fight? We’d all be very curious to see what that looks like.
I for one don’t think he has it in him.