After much bluster and drama, the Republican divas in the House of Representatives caved, and gave President Obama what he wanted on the fiscal cliff.
It took a day of drama, and no less than two conference meetings, for John Boehner to get enough Republican votes to pass the fiscal cliff deal. By passing this deal, House Republicans demonstrated that the only tool they have left in their toolbox is the empty threat. Speaker Boehner talked tough on the fiscal cliff for weeks, but when push came to shove, he dragged his caucus kicking and screaming towards sanity. 85 Republicans voted for the bill. (Boehner didn’t let the vote happen because it was the right to do for the country. The vote happened because Boehner saw that fiscal cliff was 8 ton mega warhead that was set to destroy his party.)
By a vote of 257-167, the fiscal cliff deal passed the House.
The real House hero was Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who once again showed her colleagues what a real leader looks like by holding her caucus together and delivering the votes needed for passage. (Only 16 Democrats voted against the bill.)
President Obama and the Democrats have been in control of this issue for over a year, and the president got almost everything that he wanted out of this fiscal cliff deal. Republicans are kidding themselves if they think that the fiscal cliff is the end of the revenue discussion. They may think that the debt ceiling and the sequester will be all about spending cuts, but the president and Democrats will be emboldened to continue to push their balanced fiscal agenda all through 2013.
Obama got Republicans to do something that has not happened in 20 years. He got them to raise taxes. Speaking of increased taxes, those who are concerned about the Social Security Trust Fund should be happy that the temporary payroll tax cut is expiring. (This is something that Bernie Sanders has been concerned about for the last few years.)
The House Republican manufactured fiscal cliff crisis blew up in their faces, and more importantly, they stabbed their own anti-tax ideology in the heart.
Democrats, liberals, and progressives can’t rest because House Republicans made it clear during the fiscal cliff debate that they intend to come after “entitlements” in the next few months. While Obama and the Democrats got a nice victory by turning the tables on the Republican fiscal cliff, they must be prepared to win the war to keep beloved programs like Social Security and Medicare intact.
Hopefully, all of the actors in this political drama have learned that House Republicans are all bark and no bite. Some on the left continue to complain that President Obama is a bad negotiator, but if the president is such a terrible negotiator, how does he keep getting nearly everything that he wants? People can disagree with Obama’s priorities, but this president’s ability to get things done in the face of unparalleled obstruction remains impressive.
Just like in 2011, Republicans blustered but eventually caved and gave the president exactly what he wanted.