The Washington Examiner posted an article about two defining moments of the Obama Administration. Both moments explain why the Obama Administration does not seem to be able to find common ground with the Republicans.
The first defining moment came early in the first term:
As recounted in Bob Woodward‘s book “The Price of Politics,” just three days after he was inaugurated, Obama invited House Republicans to the White House to talk about how he could incorporate their ideas into the then-unwritten stimulus bill.
At the meeting, Minority Whip Eric Cantor distributed a five-point Republican stimulus plan that included tax cuts for the poorest Americans, tax cuts for small businesses, no taxes on unemployment benefits and a new homebuyer tax credit.
At the time, it was entirely possible that Obama could have taken some, or even one, of these ideas and included them in his almost $1 trillion stimulus plan. If he had, he surely would have gotten at least some Republican votes for his stimulus bill.
Instead, Obama told Cantor, “I can go it alone. … Look at the polls. The polls are pretty good for me right now. Elections have consequences. And Eric, I won.” Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was even more frank: “We have the votes. F–k ’em.”
As a result, Obama’s final stimulus bill had zero Republican ideas in it. Not surprisingly, it also got zero Republican votes. The tone for Obama’s presidency had been set: all partisan scorched earth all the time. And it’s been that way ever since.
Unfortunately, things have not gotten better since then:
Obama’s secretary of the treasury was an odd choice for a negotiating point man to begin with. Boehner and other Republican leaders had previously called on Geithner to resign. His relationship with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., can best be described as confrontational. Geithner, and his perma-smirk, were not exactly signs that Obama was interested in a deal.
Sure enough, last Thursday the details of Geithner’s offer leaked. Not only did Geithner ask for $1.6 trillion in tax hikes (double what Obama campaigned on); not only did Geithner ask for new stimulus spending; not only did Geithner ask for an extension of “emergency” unemployment benefits; but he also asked for an infinite increase in the debt limit. That was the last real piece of leverage Republicans had.
The Geithner proposal completely killed any chance House Republican leaders had of convincing their members that Obama was an honest partner for anything — let alone major tax and entitlement reform.
I don’t know if we will be going over the fiscal cliff. I do know that a bad deal might be worse than no deal. It is unfortunate that America elected a President who does not seem to understand the concept of compromise.