DANCING WITH THE ONES WHO BROUGHT THEM…. House Minority Leader John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) comments on Sunday, while unexpected, seemed to reflect common sense. President Obama wants a tax cut for the middle class, while allowing higher rates for the wealthy to expire on schedule. Boehner would prefer, of course, to give breaks to the rich, no matter what it does to the deficit, but if lower rates for the middle class are the best he can do, he’ll take it. Some breaks, Boehner grudgingly conceded, are better than none.
Except, as yesterday made abundantly clear, Boehner’s Republican colleagues in both chambers fundamentally disagree. Indeed, the GOP left no doubt that they intend to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage until Democrats agree to give the wealthiest Americans $700 billion in tax breaks.
While Boehner didn’t personally walk back his on-air remarks from Sunday, the rest of the Republican leadership made clear his position was unacceptable. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) distanced himself from Boehner’s remarks, as did Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who questioned Boehner’s negotiating strategy during an interview with Sean Hannity.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) even unveiled legislation to mandate lower rates for all, including the rich, indefinitely.
Of particular interest, McConnell took to the Senate floor to argue, “We can’t let the people who’ve been hit hardest by this recession and who we need to create the jobs that will get us out of it foot the bill for the Democrats’ two-year adventure in expanded government.”
So, in the mind of the Republican Senate leader, the folks who’ve been “hit hardest” are the Americans who make the most money.
It’s a striking reminder — Republicans got elected to represent the interests of the wealthy and powerful, and no matter what, Republicans will dance with the ones who brought them.
This need not be a problem for Democrats. Just seven weeks before the midterms, the Republican Party is pushing an unpopular tax plan, demanding a massive increase to the deficit, and threatening to hold middle-class tax cuts hostage. What’s more, we have GOP leaders fighting amongst themselves, which is generally what Dems want to see.
So, this is a fight Democrats should be ready and willing to fight? You might think so, but it’s not turning out that way. More on that in the next post.