EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 9, 2013

Column: Obama should go to Hawaii, leave Boehner in charge

Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who started the fiscal cliff negotiations with a grand compromise offer, got as much as poked in the eye by President Barack Obama, and it didn’t stop there. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called him a dictator, his own House Republicans betrayed him and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shamefully slammed him on another issue.

The old saying that no good deed goes unpunished would seem to fit, only that is inadequate when you consider the enormity of what this country faces. It’s far more than the automatic tax hikes and defense cuts that were averted by a last-minute deal, but a debt threat that could turn this country upside down if nothing serious gets done. And nothing serious is getting done because, in Washington, ego, corruption and ideology are definitively in charge.

Obama has plenty of ego. He wanted Boehner to know that Mr. Greatness won the presidential election, he would decide what happens next, and if that meant salvational possibilities would then flutter out the window, so be it. As before, he muffed the negotiations and ultimately put Vice President Joe Biden in charge. When Obama flew off to Hawaii for some vacation time during the holidays, there were those of us who breathed a sigh of relief.

Biden did his give-and-take with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and there was corruption of the kind that says, look, we’re going to raise some taxes and do far too little on spending to rescue the American people, but we will please some Democratic senators by giving multimillions in extended tax breaks to their super-rich filmmaking buddies in Hollywood.

Boehner had initially offered some $800 billion in new revenue through the kind of tax reform — fewer loopholes — that could generate economic growth. He also wanted to go after spending, which is the heart of the problem. The Biden-McConnell bargain was better than nothing, but just barely. It raised $620 billion with tax hikes of the least productive kind along with a laughable, absurd, minuscule $15 billion in spending cuts.

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