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December 17, 2012 11:28 PM UTC

Boehner's Baby Steps and Grover Norquist's Pound of Flesh

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Whatever a lopsided majority may say in polls, they apparently don’t live in Rep. Cory Gardner’s district. From the conservative website

Over-regulation and too much spending is plaguing the economy, Gardner said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.

“I’m frustrated, [and] my constituents are frustrated, because they see Washington doing the same exact thing,” he said. “This was the most predictable crisis anybody could ever imagine. So, months ago we knew this was going to happen. It got closer, closer, closer and here we are now days away instead of months away and we’re talking about kicking the can down the road, and the American public, the constituents I represent, they’re tired of it. They want to see tax rates that are lower, not higher…” [Pols emphasis]

It’s a very safe seat, after all.


Politico reports on the latest development in ongoing negotiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” at the end of this year. It should be noted that Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner made a new offer Friday, which includes a big at-least rhetorical concession:

“The President and the Speaker are meeting at the White House to continue their discussions about the fiscal cliff and balanced deficit reduction,” according to an identical statement issued by aides to Boehner and Obama [Monday].

Boehner jump-started the talks with a proposal Friday to boost marginal tax rates on income over $1 million, in what was a significant departure from his party’s no-new-taxes plank.

Democrats described the movement on rates as “progress,” but cautioned that a deal is not imminent because of the high income threshold and proposed cuts to Medicare, including raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67. Obama wants tax rates to rise on family income above $250,000 a year, and he has not publicly embraced cuts to Medicare beneficiaries in the latest round of talks.

As we and most media coverage has noted throughout these negotiations, public opinion polls show overwhelming support for allowing the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts to expire on income greater than $250,000 per household. At the same time, polling is tepid at best on any move to cut Medicare, Social Security, or other so-called “entitlements” valued by the middle class.

So what we have is Boehner agreeing, belatedly and only partly, to one piece of the public’s desired solution, using that as leverage to demand things the public doesn’t want.

Boehner needs robust changes to the hugely popular seniors health program to sell any kind of tax-rate increase to his conservative-dominated Republican Conference. [Pols emphasis]

The public’s failure to embrace cuts to popular institutions like Medicare and Social Security isn’t due to a lack of trying. The Fix The Debt campaign, Alan Simpson dancing “Gangnam Style,” and the millions spent trying to make Hugh Jidette a household name have all dismally failed to turn Americans into voters willing to accept Ryan Plan-style austerity. They know better.

This means Boehner and the Republicans are in a desperate political conundrum. The real constituency supporting sweeping entitlement cuts is exposed as embarrassingly small and ideologically motivated. Boehner must hold out for cuts to popular programs that the public doesn’t want–cuts only supported by a small minority for uningratiating reasons.

No doubt this latest smallish concession from Boehner seems rudely shocking and offensive to Grover Norquist, and other “starve the beast” ideological opponents of anything that doesn’t “shrink the size of government.” The lesson in this, however, may not be Boehner’s concession, but how far the Republican Party has drifted from the mainstream of public opinion.


3 thoughts on “Boehner’s Baby Steps and Grover Norquist’s Pound of Flesh

  1. believe the words coming  out of his mouth?  All polls show the majority support the end of tax cuts for the top 2%. And I seriously doubt Obama and  the Dems will be willing to trade  the end of the Bush cut only for those earning a million for draconian social cuts that polls show the majority oppose. At least those of us who elected a Dem President and added Dems to both the Senate and the House and to the state legislature hope so.

    Most of the candidates the GOP billionaires and the NRA backed lost.  Most Americans want reasonable gun control including background checks on all, not just 60%, of gun purchasers and bans on ultra high capacity magazines.

    Time for Rs and Ds both to face the new reality, much as the right disdains anything reality based.  Rs need to stop  behaving as if they are the ones with a mandate and Ds need to stop behaving as if  Rs still have the upper hand.  

  2. Funny he doesn’t talk quite as tough to the mainstream media:

    “Speaker Boehner needs room to negotiate,” said Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., another freshman. “I think he knows that I and the others are not in favor of tax-rate increases. But the speaker is going to do what he believes is in the best interest of the conference,” he said, meaning House Republicans, “and knowing he has to get the votes.”

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