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How Can Boehner Say Yes When the Deal Gets Sweeter by the Day?

To maintain his role as head of the Republican caucus Speaker John Boehner can’t cut just any old deal with the Democrats, at least not now that so much rides on this particular fight. Even if Boehner and most of the Republican leadership want to cut a deal, and that isn’t a given, the only way Boehner can sell a deal to his caucus is to claim he pushed the Democrats to the edge and got the best deal they can possibly hope for. Yet with the Democrats sweetening the pot with new concessions almost daily, there is no way the Republican caucus would think they have reached the Democrats’ final offer.

First, President Obama accepted that the debt ceiling vote didn’t need to be a clean one and it was a good time to force through a deficit reduction package.

Then, the Democrats, with basically no fight, just accepted the insane GOP construct that any debt increase must be matched with a dollar-for-dollar debt reduction package.

The Obama team then agrees that a “balanced” deficit reduction package would be almost all cuts with only a token amount of new revenue.

And President Obama put both Medicare and Social Security on the table.


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Obama first demanded that any package must contain at least some new revenue but quickly gave ground. He first insisted that ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would be part of any deal, and then he shifted to support a package of all cuts with only the promise of finding new revenue in a future piece of legislation.

Similarly, Nancy Pelosi demanded any package must contain new tax revenue. Now she is putting together her own package of all cuts that equals 2.4 trillion. Although the way she gets to 2.4 trillion uses some questionable math, the reality is that the Democratic House leader has abandoned her position to fully embrace the Republicans’.

Nearly every day the Democrats agree to new concessions. So it’s only logical to assume if the Republicans were to wait even a few more hours, the Democrats will cede even more ground.

I don’t know how Boehner can say yes, even if he wanted to. With the deal getting better almost by the hour, how can Boehner convince his caucus that any deal couldn’t have been better? There seems to be no end to how much Obama will fold.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker is political writer and blogger for FireDogLake. He is an expert on health care policy and the politics of health care reform.

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