John Boehner has the worst job in America. Even the guys who follow and clean up after the elephants during parades have a sweet gig in comparison.
Boehner just can’t keep his fractious, Tea Party-inspired members in line. Those dudes treat Boehner as if his nickname was Lefty.
Boehner took it on the chin Thursday night. And since his jaw is as square as a deck of cards, that is some big-time hurt.
He failed to muscle a controversial fiscal cliff fallback plan through the House, suddenly pulling the bill after spending almost week on a plan that Democrats called a waste of time.
“The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass,” Boehner said in a statement. “Now it is up to the president to work with Senator Reid on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. The House has already passed legislation to stop all of the January 1 tax rate increases and replace the sequester with responsible spending cuts that will begin to address our nation’s crippling debt. The Senate must now act.”
Apparently, the Senate is no rush to act even as we careen ever closer to the fiscal cliff. Reid declared earlier Thursday that the Senate will recess Friday until two days after Christmas. After all, there is egg nog to sip and mistletoe to stand under.
That would leave less than five full days to find a way around the cliff, which Congress itself created by mandating in last year’s debt-ceiling agreement that some $1 trillion in budget cuts start kicking in after Jan. 1. That’s also when Congress has mandated that all of the Bush-era tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 expire.
Boehner’s Plan B would prevent tax hikes on all but those Americans making over $1 million a year, and would extend the current tax rates for the rest of Americans. The White House has said that President Obama would veto the measure, The delay casts doubt on whether Boehner even has enough support from his own party to bring Plan B to a House vote.
Besides having a glass jaw, Boehner must feel like a fool for sucking up to the extremists in his party. He has to have pulled groin muscles while straddling the great divide between the far right and the more moderate.
Obama campaigned very clearly on restoring Clinton tax rates for those earning over $250,000. He won decisively. The Democrats won the Senate. Only gerrymandering managed to turn a popular vote defeat for the GOP into a majority in the House. Obama already made a concession on rates: agreeing to a limit of $400,000. Boehner’s response? Not to take the compromise but to unilaterally hold a vote on a limit of $1 million.
Only to have it all blow up like a firecracker in his face.