It's been interesting watching GOPers offer conflicting explanations for why they bailed on Thursday's "bipartisan" meeting on tax cuts.
Broadly speaking, there's been two stories. First, they said it was a simple scheduling conflict:
Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell (R-Ky.), said earlier that the meeting "was never confirmed in the first place." Stewart added: "The meeting will happen, the schedulers just haven't confirmed the date/time yet. Nobody 'pulled out.' " ... "It's just a packed week," Stewart said.
Hmmm. Somehow you gotta' figure that even in "a packed week" the GOP leadership could find the time to meet with POTUS if they wanted to. Where there's a will there's a way, and obviously they had no interest in doing the meeting this week.
Politico then reported the GOP's second explanation for bailing on the meeting: that they were afraid of getting their asses kicked by Obama like they did last January.
Behind delayed summit: Republican distrust of President Obama
The roots of the partisan standoff that led to the postponement of the bipartisan White House summit scheduled for Thursday date back to January, when President Barack Obama dominated a GOP meeting in Baltimore and delivered a humiliating rebuke to House Republicans.
The one-sided televised presidential lecture, which many Republicans decried as a political ambush — Obama’s staff wanted the event to be broadcast and GOP aides agreed reluctantly at the last minute — has left a lingering distrust of Obama invitations and a wariness about accommodating every scheduling request emanating from the West Wing, aides tell POLITICO.
But as Josh Marshall pointed out, that explanation makes little sense because it was Republicans who requested Obama's presence in January, not the White House. Not only does this explanation fail on its own merits, it doesn't explain why Republicans were willing to attend the health care summit in February.
Moreover, unlike before the previous two meetings, this time around President Obama had essentially given up the fight on the main issue at hand: whether or not to continue current tax policy. In January and February, Obama was still fighting for health care reform, and every indication was that he was going to succeed. This time, every indication has been that the GOP position on tax cuts will prevail. So the GOP really had nothing to fear -- on the key issue, they had already won.
And that right there is the best explanation for why the GOP postponed Thursday's meeting. They believe they have already won the tax cut debate -- so they had nothing to gain from meeting about it. That's why they are already recasting the content of the meeting to be about other topics -- no more mention of tax cuts. Now it's about cutting spending. And they've scheduled it to take place one day before the deficit commission releases its final report. That's no accident. It's a plan, and it's smart. I don't agree with what they're fighting for, but there's no question that they're fighting for it. And they are taking every inch that's given them and making the most out of it.