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Last week, GOP Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma said Republicans should accept President Obama's proposal to extend middle-class class tax cuts, arguing that the longer Republicans hold them hostage, the weaker their hand would be in other aspects of fiscal cliff negotiations.

Monday morning, he told Fox that he hasn't changed his position, but instead of focusing on the case he made last week, he highlighted his firm support for House Speaker John Boehner. "My position hasn't changed," Cole said. "That's actually, I still think, a good way forward. But it's not going to change my support for the speaker." Cole then proceeded to repeatedly state that Boehner is the GOP's lead negotiator and that Republicans would back his position in any deal:

Every time the speaker has had a tough vote that he's asked us to cast, I've been there for him. And, frankly, I can't imagine I won't be there again. I've never undercut him, I certainly wouldn't undercut him in this. I think this an extraordinarily important negotiation. But the president is going to have to understand this negotiation is between him and the speaker. It's not going to be with individual members of the Republican conference.
Perhaps I'm overanalyzing Cole's words, but to me it seems like he's protesting a bit too much. Obviously, his goal was to communicate the message that Republicans are united behind Boehner, but he spent so much time highlighting that point during the interview (not just in the passage I quoted above), I actually have some doubt about whether or not its true.

Keep in mind that President Obama has repeatedly pointed out that that it would only take a handful of Republicans to join with Democrats in extending the tax cuts and that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is threatening a discharge petition to get middle-class tax cuts onto the Senate floor. Those are both strategies aimed at extending middle-class tax cut primarily with Democratic votes. About 10 to 15 percent of the GOP caucus would need to join with Democrats, in the process creating a big fissure within the House GOP and effectively neutering House conservatives. In other words, that's an outcome that the House Republican leadership really, really doesn't want to see.

It would be such an obvious political disaster for senior Republicans that it's surprising that anyone on their side of the aisle would be talking about it at all. It's not a shock that Obama or Pelosi might try to encourage such discussion, but even though Cole is now trying to put a lid on such talk, it was his own words that started it. The fact that several days later he still needs to reclarify what he meant tells me he's getting a lot of pressure from senior Republicans to silence any talk of internal divisions within the House GOP. And if that's what's happening, then we know exactly what their worried about—and it should encourage Democrats to push harder than ever to exploit GOP discord.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Silly comparison (5+ / 0-)

    Santa actually delivers.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:17:47 AM PST

    •  With (0+ / 0-)

      free shipping, all the time!  No strings!

      Après le thé, le déluge. -- Glenn Beck, aka Napoleon XIV

      by mspicata on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:19:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We need to educate re: the discharge petition (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The more the public can learn and fully understand what the discharge petition is about, the more pressure can be brought on the GOP leadership to get something done on the Tax Cut Bill OR to get 26 republicans to actually sign the petition and vote for the bill's passage.

      If we can get the media to step up on this story, and if we keep up the buzz and the emails and social media heat to encourage some more open minded republicans to consider the well being of the 98% rather than the 2% this holiday season and have a little honest political courage, well, maybe we can move forward on to other things, like the dang sequester...

  •  This is the same twerp that said yesterday that (5+ / 0-)

    Republicans don't actually need to put a proposal on the table - just see where negotiations go. Cuz you can have negotiations without proposing anything, doncha know?

    Republicans don't need to counter President Obama's proposal to avert the fiscal cliff with a formal plan of their own, according to Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., the deputy majority whip in the House of Representatives.
    "I don't think we need to put a formal proposal out on the table," Cole said on the "This Week" roundtable Sunday. "The Speaker has already said that revenue is on the table. We have an idea of how to get there in terms of not raising rates but finding another way through the tax code and reform."
    "Beyond that we'll see how negotiations go," added Cole, who broke ranks with his party last week by calling for immediately extending middle class tax cuts scheduled to expire at the end of the year.

    Former Romney campaign senior adviser Dan Senor disagreed with Cole, saying that Republicans do need to present a formal proposal on avoiding the fiscal cliff.

    And you know Americans really value the opinion of a failed candidate's senior advisor also too right?

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:20:02 AM PST

  •  I can almost feel sorry for this guy, you know (4+ / 0-)

    he is going to be targeted now by the Tea Party as being a moderate, or liberal. Good luck with your relection run, your going to need it.

  •  GOP discord is good for America. n/t (6+ / 0-)

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:23:10 AM PST

  •  Great post, thanks Jed, but one correction needed? (7+ / 0-)

    I think you mean "House"

    "Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is threatening a discharge petition to get middle-class tax cuts onto the Senate floor."

  •  From the GOP Dictionary: Negotiation - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    Giving the GOP everything that they ask for.
    Can it get any simpler?

  •  I'm glad to see Nancy threatening the GOP on this! (3+ / 0-)

    They've been doing enough threatening themselves.  the poor babies are just getting back what they give and they need to stop wining and do the people's business, if that is possible!

  •  Actually, I think Boehner sent poor Cole out (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mspicata, Timothy J, a2nite, Beastly Fool

    there to atone for his previous comments - swallow it all publicly to get back in his good graces.

    In fact, the GOP is NOT unified on this.

    The most violent element in society is ignorance.

    by Mr MadAsHell on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:32:26 AM PST

  •  So he still thinks ending the tax cuts (6+ / 0-)

    on the 2% is a good idea, but he won't vote for it because like a good little Republican he puts party over country.

    Got it, Mr. Cole - same old, same old.

  •  Cole is the one Boehner took to the woodshed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thomas Twinnings

    when he made the first announcement about agreeing with Obama on the tax cuts.  Boehner lit into his ass, and now he's tap dancing because he dared to leave the plantation of GOPers and think for himself.

    He'll go over the cliff right with Johnny-Boy and the rest of the Tea Bag gang.

    "Washington, DC: Where Corrupt Officials are discovered daily."

    by The Truth on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:34:44 AM PST

  •  Well, I doubt they'll break openly. (9+ / 0-)

    I don't think Pelosi will get many, if any Rep. votes on her discharge petition at all. I think this is making some of them feel a little uncomfortable, and perhaps she can peel off a very few outgoing members, but not enough to get 218.
    However, this is a good political move. Refusing to sign the discharge petition may not be quite the same as actually voting no on the bill, but to many folks the difference will seem trivial, especially if the Dems go out and sell it as such.

    The Republicans will go over the cliff on this because very few of them can afford to piss off their primary voters, and many of them are in such gerrymandered districts that they have  few worries in the general either, but there will be some who are in tighter races and this will pressure them.

    Pelosi is stocking up ammunition for 2014, and it's worth doing for that alone.

  •  You know, given (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevenaxelrod, DSPS owl

    Cole's Bay of Fundy impersonation (the tide rushes in, the tide rushes out), I'm beginning to think we've misheard Grover Norquist.  Maybe he only wanted to drown the GOP in the bathtub.  If so, it's starting to work.

    Après le thé, le déluge. -- Glenn Beck, aka Napoleon XIV

    by mspicata on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:39:19 AM PST

  •  GOP rooting for the rich (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Thomas Twinnings

    Republicans just lost an election because they tirelessly campaigned to protect the wealthiest in the country. Now they are committing the same error all over again. The one percent must be held accountable and made to pay their fair share. This is what real Americans are demanding from this this do-nothing Congress. Incomes for the top percent of taxpayers have shot up at an obscene pace even as incomes and wages for the vast majority of Americans have fallen. Poverty is at record levels while the rich get big tax breaks on their market investment and corporate jets.  -  progressive

  •  Cole is saying pennance for his (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timothy J

    "impure thoughts"

    The 1st Amendment gives you the right to say stupid things, the 1st Amendment doesn't guarantee a paycheck to say stupid things.

    by JML9999 on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:42:45 AM PST

  •  typical Republican word salad nonsense (0+ / 0-)
  •  Maybe the media is starting to get it? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dougdilg, Thomas Twinnings, Timothy J

    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.—Carl Schurz
    Give 'em hell, Barry—Me

    by KingBolete on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 11:48:57 AM PST

  •  Do the petition already, Nancy. Enough threats. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Beastly Fool

    It's time to take out the trash on these messy little brats.

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:00:44 PM PST

  •  Sounds like in-district pushing on possible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Beastly Fool

    Congressional Republican defectors for Pelosi's discharge petition might be in order.

    Look for Republicans holding seats in otherwise Democratic districts or those that only narrowly won their districts or sit in districts that are not particularly wealthy and for whom the middle class is it.

    Push them to support the discharge petition from within the district.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:04:53 PM PST

  •  Cole muddies yet more waters (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, DSPS owl, Beastly Fool

    Tom Cole, as he tries to walk back his subversion of the Republican line on Obama's tax proposal, subverts the Republican mugging of Susan Rice. From The National Memo today:

    For the second time in a week, conservative Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is breaking with his party on a hot button issue. . . .

    During a Sunday morning appearance on ABC’s This Week, Cole offered his advice on the other issue that has animated Republicans in the weeks since the election: U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s response to the September 11th attacks in Benghazi, and her potential nomination as Secretary of State.

    When Dan Senor — the former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority during the Iraq War, and the chief foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney — suggested investigating “whether or not Susan Rice should be blamed” for the Obama administration’s response to the Benghazi attacks, Cole reminded Senor of the Bush administration’s false claims that Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

    “We saw President Bush out front defending something wasn’t true too,” Cole noted. “Maybe we should ask those guys some questions too.”

    The Republicans are slowly coming apart at the seams. I couldn't be happier about it.
  •  I don't know-- (0+ / 0-)

    there is much, MUCH more evidence of Republican unity than discord over the years. I'd need to see some actual votes before making too big a deal of their alleged schisms . . .

    "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

    by bryduck on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:34:55 PM PST

  •  Relax, Gang. Cong. Cole is just engaging in ... (0+ / 0-)

    ... a little Reality Reconstruction.

    Republicans are perfecting this new science.

    All they have to do is a move a few words around in the sentence, or add another principle to the high concept they're proclaiming, or feel sorry for us that we've mistaken the words they themselves spoke ... and Voila!, the world has changed and a New Reality prevails.

    Next question.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 12:50:30 PM PST

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