Mr. Obama will meet with carefully selected small-business owners, middle-class taxpayers and corporate leaders over the next couple days, then fly to Pennsylvania on Friday to tour a toy manufacturer that he argues will be hurt if automatic tax increases take effect at the end of the year.I guess it's not so funny when the president wins re-election and really does take it to the people, outside of DC. This has Republican leaders very concerned and uncomfortable.
“Rather than sitting down with lawmakers of both parties and working out an agreement, he’s back out on the campaign trail, presumably with the same old talking points we’re all familiar with,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said on the floor on Tuesday. “Look, we already know the president is a very good campaigner. What we don’t know is whether he has the leadership qualities necessary to lead his party to a bipartisan agreement on a big issue likes this.”No, Sen. McConnell, you aren't worried about whether the president has leadership qualities. The American people just spoke about it earlier this month. The "old talking points," Senator, are the policies of the president that the American people resoundingly affirmed, so yes, he's going to take it to the people if your loser party does not cooperate.
There is good reason for the Republican leadership to be nervous about this move by the President, as senators in McConnell's own caucus are caving under the fiscal cliff to let taxes go up on the wealthy, and there are fresh cracks even in the House GOP leadership. Rep. Tom Cole, the Chairman of the Republican conference in the House openly advocated for Republicans to stop blocking the extension of tax cuts for the first $250,000 in income. But of course, John Boehner quickly rebuked Rep. Cole:
After an hourlong meeting of House Republicans, Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he told Cole in front of the entire conference that his views were wrong. “I disagreed with him. … This is not the right approach,” Boehner told reporters. He said that the leadership team stuck by its position of raising tax revenue through closing loopholes but not by increasing individual tax rates.And that is something that is not going to happen. The president is not going to allow the Republicans to hold the middle class hostage to the tax rates for the wealthiest, and he's ready to let them fall on that sword if that's what they choose. The president is sticking by his guns, insisting that the Republicans release the middle class hostage, and that has Republican leadership worried.
Boehner and McConnell are worried that the president going to the American people will engage us in the conversation. They are worried that the president is going to remind the American people that despite broad support for his tax plan, your party is trying to hold 98% of Americans hostage to tax rates for the top 2%. They are afraid of the public pressure this president is capable of bringing on you. I mean, Obama did it to them before. Not once, but twice. Boehner and McConnell are afraid that the they are correct.
The president does not need to be holed up in the White House in order to continue negotiations. I know the Republicans missed the evolution of the American electorate, and also the actual evolution, but did they also miss the revolution in communications? On top of which, administration officials are ready and eager to meet with members of Congress, and they are already meeting with leadership to get a deal.
The problem isn't that if the President isn't locked up in the White House, there won't be a deal. The problem for the Republicans is that by taking this on the road, the president is cranking up the pressure, and at the same time, garnering more support for his plan, this time without an opponent with equal media attention to contradict him. The president's message is simple: first, Republicans must release their hostage, the middle class, by extending the middle class tax breaks. Then, Congress needs to get serious about additional revenue from those who have done the best and been asked the least, as well as spending reductions. At the same time, Congress needs to end playing politics with the debt limit.
This isn't complicated. The president is now, and has always been ready to negotiate with the Republicans in good faith. The president is now, and has always been willing to make tough cuts in the budget in order to reduce the deficit. But he's not going to do it on the backs of those who need help the most, and he's not going to do it by phantom tax-cuts-for-the-top math. If the Republicans are ready to negotiate in good faith, leaving behind their ideological dogma on taxes, they will find that with this president, they can achieve a deal that will be history making. They will find that he will lead the Democratic party to support a fair, far-reaching deal, and he will meet them half way. But if the Republicans insist on being a thorn on his side for no other reason than that they want to re-litigate the election, they will find him cracking a whip.