So lets take a moment to check out what the political world looks like right now for Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell. First...a bit of a trip down memory lane.
Last summer the Republicans decided to take the world economy hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless their demands for deficit reduction were met. In the end, a deal was reached, Speaker Boehner declared that he'd gotten 98% of what he wanted and WAY to many liberals bought into that line because it affirmed their defeat and disappointment.
But yesterday Speaker Boehner was singing a different tune.
Republicans in the House, Boehner confirmed, will advance legislation to replace automaatic cuts to the defense budget from taking effect on Jan. 1.
“We should never have had the sequester,” Boehner told reporters at his weekly press availability Thursday. “I always thought that the Super Committee had a real chance to do good work, to produce savings so that the sequester wouldn’t kick in... And hopefully in some time near in the future the Congress will really act to deal with our long term spending problem and our deficit problem."
As a reminder, the debt ceiling deal set up a Super Committee to identify ways to reduce the deficit. The committee failed to reach agreement because Republicans insisted on only cutting spending while Democrats insisted on a balance approach that would also include raising revenue. As a result, automatic cuts (called sequester) are set to kick in starting Jan. 1, 2013 that include huge reductions in defense. To avoide that, Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader McConnell will have to find a way to get legislation through both the House and Senate, then signed by President Obama, in order to restore the defense spending.
But that's not the only thing they'll have to get done in the next 9 months. The Bush tax cuts also expire on Jan. 1, 2013. So they'll have to pass legislation to extend them or all their 1% buddies will face a massive tax increase.
Some liberals who are wedded to their defeatism and disappointment see all of this as reason to crow about their supposed prescience in defining this deal as a "win" for Republicans. But you have to wonder if they've looked at this from Speaker Boehner or Minority Leader McConnell's point of view. Have they watched lately how incompetent Boehner has shown himself to be in getting his Republican caucus to do anything? Have they noticed that Democrats still hold a majority in the Senate that will surely require 60 votes to restore the defense spending and/or extend the tax cuts? Have they listened to President Obama threaten to veto any attempt to undo the sequestration minus a balanced approach (ie, spending reductions AND tax increases) to deficit reduction?
The days of Republicans merely obstructing Democrats are over. They are not only reneging on a deal they made to end a crisis they created in the first place. Their talk of deficit reduction as a primary cause is over when what they really want to pass are spending increases and tax cuts. And to accomplish all that - they'll need Democrats to work with them as well as sign-off by the President.
See what a little empathy for Republicans can get you? Poor babies have a total uphill climb over the next 9 months. And Democrats who can see that can also see the win this has been for our side all along.