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House Speaker Boehner wants nothing to do with responsibility or accountability for negotiating a deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.  Obviously he has no control over his caucus.  In situations like this one can lead one's party's members to accept that they have a duty to fashion a compromise with the Denmocrats and the President, or one can do what Boehner just did - Punt.

House of Representatives leaders talked Wednesday and said they'd wait for the Senate to act on legislation to avert the fiscal cliff. House leaders said that once the Senate acts, they will consider whether to take up that measure.

The House , which has a Republican majority, in August passed a bill to extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, which expire at the end of the year, for one year. It has also approved legislation last week that's an alternative to the $109 billion in automatic spending cuts due to take effect Jan. 2.

The Democratic-run Senate this summer passed a measure to extend only tax cuts for individuals earning less than $200,000 and families making less than $250,000.

Read more here: http://blogs.mcclatchydc.com/...

Shorter Boehner: I like being Speaker of the House, I just don't like the hard work and the political fallout that comes with it.

Boehner's "proposal" is that the Senate cave and take up the House bills to extend all the Bush era tax cuts.  His mealy-mouthed press release is a weak attempt to pass the buck onto the Senate (i.e., Senate Democrats), and claim they and the President are solely responsible for the lack of progress in negotiations because they failed to consider the House's DOA bill for extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. He claims that Senate Dems should accept a bill for continued tax cuts for the wealthy that a large majority of Americans oppose.

In effect, Boehener is saying he won't can't consider a compromise because his members won't let him.    He knows as well as anyone that the his "secret negotiations" with the President failed because no one in his caucus would "follow his lead" despite the President placing Social Security cuts on the table. I suppose we can thank those recalcitrant extremists for saving social security - for now.  They wanted complete capitulation by the President or nothing at all.  

Thus, it appears, thanks to House Republicans, that the lame duck Congress will "get nothing" and "do nothing" and in January, Boehner may very well be out of a job.  Probably for the best. I'm tired of his sprayed-on tan and his crocodile tears.  His replacement will likely take an even harder line in negotiations to appease the crazies among Republican House members (and those who fear being primaried by crazier teahadist candidates in 2014).  The only question is how will a larger Dem caucus in the House, and an enlarged Dem majority in the Senate, respond to the GOP's ongoing game of Russian Roulette.  I already fear we know how the White House will play this out based on past performance, and I'm not sanguine of any deal getting done that protects seniors, the poor and the rapidly shrinking middle class.

I'm not going to speculate on the effect of sequestration and the termination of all the Bush tax cuts, which seems to me to be 95% certain to occur come January.  Perhaps the business wing of the GOP (i.e., the lobbyists) will pressure their "representatives" to take the best deal Obama offers.  As to what exactly Obama will offer Republicans to get a deal done all I can say is: Who knows?  

I'd prefer the President use his bully pulpit to attack the GOP's refusal to accept revenue increases and cuts to Defense spending, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting to see if that happens.  My fear is that he will offer even more cuts to Social Security and Medicare, or accept tax increases on the middle class through  the back door elimination of the mortgage interest and state income tax deductions.  I wish I could trust Obama to stand firm, but experience has taught me that he will not suddenly transform into Harry Truman and "give 'em hell."  That is simply not been his style in his first term and at this point I've seen nothing yest to suggest his negotiating style will change in his second term.  I have given up demanding he transform himself into the champion of the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.  I just want him to not give up the farm when he attempts to fashion his "Grand Bargain" with the next Congress.

Originally posted to Steven D on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Social Security Defenders.

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