News Column

Republicans: Buy 'Plan C'? Or Bye, Bye Boehner?

Dec. 25, 2012

Jac Wilder VerSteeg for The Post Editorial Board

Boehner
House Speaker John Boehner sits to the president's right.

Consumers and businesses were starting to be more optimistic. Third-quarter economic growth had just been revised upward. Financial markets and employment were trending up.

Then, instead of continuing negotiations whose reported progress had been contributing to the cautiously brighter outlook, the speaker of the House pulled Plan Bonehead.

John Boehner's "Plan B" never made political or economic sense. President Barack Obama had offered concessions on spending and entitlements. The president had pared back his demands for tax increases on the wealthy. A deal that advanced Republican goals was within reach. Then Rep. Boehner unilaterally jumped off the cliff.

President Obama and Democrats weren't going to jump with him. With a revolt from extremist House Republicans who wouldn't even support a tax increase on millionaires, Mr. Boehner's Plan B collapsed Thursday night. Did he fear that reaching a compromise with President Obama would threaten his speakership? Who knows. In any case, he's failed his party and, more important, he's failed the country.

Perhaps no one could herd factions that think like Rep. Allen West. He told The Washington Post he didn't support the tax increase on millionaires because it would damage the GOP brand. "If you don't draw a contrast with the other side, who are you?"

Well, you might be someone who understands the value of political compromise. Politicians who don't hurt the party "brand." Does Rep. West think he lost to Patrick Murphy because he wasn't extreme enough? Did the Republican Party fail to win control of the Senate because Missouri's Todd Akin and Indiana's Richard Mourdock weren't extreme enough?

After his brainless tactic bombed, Rep. Boehner shut down the House and sulked that avoiding the fiscal cliff now is the responsibility of President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Mr. Boehner's abdication is pathetic. He should have been back at the White House on Friday morning working toward a plan that could pass with a combination of Republican and Democratic votes. Perhaps Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will step into that role.

If the United States goes off the "fiscal cliff" and the economy relapses into recession, Americans across the income spectrum will suffer. And it will have been unnecessary. Rep. Boehner should have learned from then-Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's bungling of the first financial bailout vote in 2008 that do-overs are awful. Lenders gave the Treasury a reprieve after the GOP's reckless debt-limit stunt in 2011 led to a lone credit downgrade. Going over the "fiscal cliff," and a looming debt-limit reprise, could inflict serious, permanent damage.

Some Democrats and Republicans want to plunge in January and try to claw back in the spring. They are advocating unconscionable risks. President Obama and senators now are expected to offer a limited interim deal. Helping it pass the House could cost Rep. Boehner his leadership post. But it would partially atone for Plan B.

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Source: (c) 2012 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)


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