12.17.12 7:05 PM ET
A Semi-Serious Offer from Boehner
Meanwhile, back here in Washington, politics does go on. John Boehner actually made a semi-serious offer in the fiscal talks. First, he would accept the higher 39.6 percent rate on dollars earned above $1 million per annum. This is a two-year old Chuck Schumer proposal that Republicans once scoffed at. So that's movement.
Boehner is now at $1 trillion in revenue. The White House wants $1.4 trillion. Obama would probably not accept Boehner's income level, as too high. Obama wants to raise the rate on dollars earned above $250,000, as I trust you know by now. Sounds to me like on this one, they could meet at $1.2 trillion and $400,000 (or whatever the number would work out to be) and call it a day.
Second, Boehner would take debt-limit negotiations off the table for a year. This isn't as big as it sounds at first blush, because he'd still be demanding spending cuts to match the debt increase dollar-for-dollar. However, it is a form of unilateral disarmament, since the debt limit is the only leverage the GOP has right now.
So Boehner is recognizing reality, or starting to. You can tell it's a reasonably sensible proposal because the Club for Growth hates it. The Club for Growth statement is interesting in its way:
First Speaker Boehner offered to raise tax rates after promising not to, and now he’s offering to raise the debt ceiling. Raising tax rates is anti-growth and raising the debt ceiling is pro-government growth – and this is the Republican position?
In other words, says Club for Growth, we don't believe Republicans should be negotiating with the other side based on political reality; they should just behave in purely ideological terms.
Obama still shouldn't accept this. He doesn't want to put off the debt limit business for a year. He wants it taken off the table forever, so no future president can be held hostage by a Congress that was the institution that passed the budget that sent the debt upward in the first damn place, and I don't blame him. Obama's leverage increases after Jan. 1. Everybody knows that. Including Boehner. Sit tight, Potus.
Also: The aftermath of the shootings helps Obama politically, no? Man, if he notch wins over Grover Norquist and the NRA in the same season, well, you'd have to hand it the guy.