Obama: "Got it!" Boehner: "Uh-oh. What? I...this isn't what it looks like." Cantor: "You ain't gettin' this hand."
Compromise - it's the word that Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) eschewed as a synonym for "sell out," when he spoke to CBS' Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes, one year ago, before he took the gavel from Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in January. It should come as no surprise, then, that the third most powerful man in our government is meeting resistance, even within his own caucus, when it comes to implementing a basic and necessary tool used to mitigate government dysfunction. There will be no negotiated solution, no compromise, as long as Boehner, Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Republicans maintain an unassailable majority in the Lower Chamber.
The numerical advantage enabled them to pull back from an apparent debt deal in the summer, and allowed Republicans on the ensuing Super Committee - which itself was supposed to negotiate a solution - to accept failure. And it pulled back Boehner's hand at the current payroll tax cut extension agreement, because his caucus reminded him he would be branded a sell out.
Now, though, Boehner & Co. are under attack from those who are supposed to be on their side. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said on CNN, Tuesday, that what his brothers and sisters in the House are doing with the payroll tax cut extension, " is harming the Republican Party."
In an editorial Wednesday morning, the decidedly right of center Wall Street Journal admonished the House GOP leadership, calling their actions a "fiasco."
Despite the House's maneuver that allowed their caucus to vote against the Senate's compromise, Tuesday, without it looking like a vote against a tax break, the Journal recognizes it would be perceived that way, anyway. "The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. Republicans have also achieved the small miracle of letting Mr. Obama position himself as an election-year tax cutter," the WSJ editorial board said, adding, "This should be impossible."
A somewhat cynical McCain took note of the dismal ratings of Congress in his critique. "It is harming the view, if it's possible any more, of the American people about Congress," he said.
The continuing cries from the House of, "But our bill will be better. We want a whole year," is falling on deaf ears because, as they acknowledge, everyone wants a whole year. What they, the Senate and the President want or are willing to exchange for that year, in a hurried negotiation, is the sticking point.
By engaging in another post-settlement negotiation, John Boehner and Eric Cantor are substituting the "legislative realities" the Republicans like to talk about when they "negotiate" a bill, with legislative surreal-ities. And for the millions this legislation affects, the consequences of their political gaming couldn't be more real.
"The entire exercise is political," the WSJ editorial points out, "but Republicans have thoroughly botched the politics."
Maybe the voters will remember that, come November.