Via Steve Benen, I was pointed to this exchange between White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and an unidentified reporter yesterday:
QUESTION: Yesterday, the President said he needed the Speaker to do something [on extending the payroll tax cut]. The Speaker said, “I need the President to do something.” My assumption would be the Speaker expected something more than a phone call. He was looking for something from the President as far as negotiations; you say there’s nothing to negotiate. The Speaker is in a corner, he’s boxed in a corner. Is the President going to do nothing to help the Speaker get out of that corner?
CARNEY: The President is doing everything he can to help the American people. The Speaker is very capable of helping himself by calling a vote on the Senate compromise, a compromise that received the support of 80 percent of the Republican senators and even a greater percentage of Democratic senators. There is a bipartisan compromise available to him as a lifesaver, if you will.
QUESTION: But politically he’s in a box. Is there anything the President can do?
CARNEY: Well, I mean, honestly, the important thing here is not who’s up and who’s down politically because, as I talked about yesterday, we are beginning to see some positive signs in the economy. We are a long way from full economic recovery, but the last thing we need to do is fail to pass a payroll tax cut extension which would have a negative impact on the kind of economic growth that we have been seeing and need to continue to see. It’s just wrong at every level to prevent this from passing.
Good Lord . . . where to begin with this inanity?
First, the extension of the payroll tax cut was worked out between the White House and the leadership of both chambers of Congress. That includes Speaker Boehner, who thought it was a good idea to pass the compromise reached last week. The only reason the Speaker is “boxed in” politically is because he is so weak he can’t control the Republican Wingnut Crazies in the House of which he ostensibly is in charge.
Second, the payroll tax cut extension could still be passed if the GOP leadership would simply call the matter to a vote. Just yesterday Steny Hoyer attempted to debate the tax cut extension already worked out between Boehner, McConnell, Reid and the White House, and in response the GOP leadership walked out of the chamber and ordered the C-Span cameras turned off so that America would not see them abdicating their legislative responsibilities. Why? Because the Crazies know that if the thing comes up for a vote, the Democrats and the GOP Orderlies have enough votes to pass it.
Third, the only reason Boehner is now “boxed in” is because he can’t control his party’s Crazies, but the GOP is absolutely getting clobbered in the world of public opinion for failing to extend a middle class tax cut after fighting tooth and nail to prevent the imposition of a surtax on any annual income over $1 million made by the wealthiest among us.
So – for those of you counting along at home – the American people want the payroll tax cut extended, the Villagers want this, the White House wants this, the Senate wants this, the Republican leadership wants this, and a majority of the House of Representatives wants this. The only people who don’t want this are the House GOP Crazies, and Boehner is too much of a spineless wimp to stand up to them. That’s why Boehner is now “boxed in.”
And some goober in the White House press pool thinks this means President Obama should compromise some more? That Obama should compromise with the most extreme, fringe members of a party that has made it abundantly clear that they hate his guts, despise him personally, and will do everything in their power to defeat, deflect and thwart him from enacting his legislative agenda? And that Obama should do so simply to help out the GOP’s gutless, worthless, spineless “leader”?
I’m sorry, but am I the only person who remembers that only three months ago, when President Obama was presenting a major jobs bill intended to put unemployed Americans back to work the reaction from a senior GOP House aide was: “Obama is on the ropes; why do we appear ready to hand him a win?” Get that? If the question is trying to do something that will help the economy and the American people – but also thereby help Obama – the House GOP’s answer is not a chance in hell.
But if the question is how can weakling John Boehner possibly be rescued from the grip of the mighty House Republican Crazies who apparently keep his balls in a jar on their mantle and slap him around whenever they want, the ones who like to huddle in a conference room in the Capitol basement for more than two hours talking “about their favorite scenes from Braveheart” in order to psych themselves up for voting down the tax cut extension in the first place, then what the press wants to know is why won’t Obama make even more concessions to the Crazies in order to save the clueless, ball-less John Boehner?
I swear to God, I weep for a country where the political press could even ask a question like that of this White House.