White House

“You Get Nothing”

If this account of fiscal cliff negotiations from the Wall Street Journal between President Obama and John Boehner are any indication, the president is a much tougher negotiator than outward appearances and the niceties of press conferences reveal.

Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn't reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.

At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, "I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?"

"You get nothing," the president said. "I get that for free."

The president doesn't need your "bully pulpit" when he has raw confidence, but he does reserve the right to use it.

This makes Boehner's Plan B fail look even worse than it already did, and I suspect there will be a tear in his beer over the holiday. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.

  • muselet

    John Boehner is an old-fashioned, old-school politician. In normal times, he’d probably be a fair to middling Speaker who could have cut a compromise deal with the White House in time to play nine holes of golf before repairing to his local for the evening.

    These are not normal times.

    Instead, Boehner became Speaker just as the people Charlie Pierce calls the feral children took office, took a blood oath never to raise income tax rates ever, declared compromise to be unacceptable, swore never to support a single bill or policy put forward by a D, and decided to ignore John Boehner. Sam Rayburn hisself couldn’t get anything done with the current crop of Rs.

    I’m with bphoon: I don’t feel at all sorry for Boehner, even with Rachel Maddow relentlessly needling him about being bad at his job. Nobody forced him to run for Speaker of the House.

    The problem is that anyone who replaces him will be worse. Much worse.


    • missliberties

      That’s my feeling. His replacement would likely be worse.

      The chances anything will pass in the next to years are slim to none. It is so depressing that we won, but right now it feels like we are all being held hostage to the losers.

      • Lazarus Durden

        Actually it might hasten the demise of the GOP. Not every GOP is a Tea Partier. In fact a lot of them in moderate districts would be willing to break with their party and vote with the Democrats on a lot of center issues isolating the crazy wing of the GOP.

    • D_C_Wilson

      You’re right. The tea party idiots have made Boehner’s job nearly impossible for anyone to do. They turned bipartisanship into a dirty word and are willing to vote against even their own ideas if there’s a whiff a Kenyan cooties attached to them. Many of them are scared shitless that Norquist and the Kochs will fund primary challengers against them that are even crazier than they are.

      Boehner hasn’t done himself any favors, though. The Plan B fiasco is a prime example of his incompetence. There’s no excuse for publicly committing himself to a plan before finding out if his own caucus would support it. That’s why both parties have whips.

      He didn’t become Speaker because he’s good at rallying the base the way that Gingrich was, or because he has even a modicum of managerial skill like Hastert, or even because of a willingness to cut the sleaziest deals possible like Delay.

      He got the job simply by outlasting all of them in office.

      If he was an actual leader, he’d sit down with Pelosi and say, “Look, I know my caucus is full of batshit crazy people who would rather see this country burn to the ground than give the president even a symbolic win, but we have a serious issue that we need to resolve quickly. Can we put aside our differences just this once and put forth a plan that can be passed with a combination of moderate dems and the few remaining sane republicans?”

  • rikyrah

    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka
    WSJ reports GOP aides begged WH to return to grand bargain deal of 2011. Pres. Obama said no and reminded them he won the election.


    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    WSJ reports when WH refused to re-offer 2011 grand bargain deal, GOP aides told WH: “So you’re breaking up with us?”


    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    WSJ reports POTUS summoned Boehner to the WH & told him he can choose a door. Door 1: Take his deal. Door 2: Get blamed for a recession.


    Nerdy Wonka @NerdyWonka

    WSJ reports Boehner begged for the deal POTUS offered in 2011. Pres. Obama told him: “You missed your opportunity on that.”


    Jonathan Karl @jonkarl

    WSJ also reports Paul Ryan opposed the larger cliff deal because it did not make structural changes to entitlements.


    ok, the image of this just cracked me up:

    Jonathan Karl @jonkarl
    One other detail: Obama sent a plane to Ohio to bring Boehner back to DC for their meeting on Monday.

    Orange Julius clutching the Jack Daniels, and gets a phone call.

    OJ: Yes.
    Phone: The plane will be there at 10 a.m., Mr. Speaker.
    OJ: What plane?
    Phone: The plane the President sent for you.
    OJ about to speak when he hears a `click’ at the other end.

    • hahahaha……

      I am already so LOVING his second term!!

  • Victor_the_Crab

    Fuck John Boehner up his ass with a white hot poker. This is what the douchebag deserves for putting his party’s selfish interests ahead of the country.

    • Actually, he’s trying to put the country before the President and his proglodyte fellow travelers.

      • Victor_the_Crab

        Bull Fucking Shit he is. You’re too fucking retarded for believing that tripe.

  • Holy crap, I just finished writing about this and said the same thing. “I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.” I swear I hadn’t come over here yet!

    Either Boehner universally elicits the same kind of scorn/pity from liberals or I’ve been reading this blog too much and it’s brainwashing me. Although, to be fair to me, I totally one upped you for cruel. I added this video.

  • missliberties

    There are many other juicy tidbits in the article.

    Boehner wanted to redo the 2011 deal with much more drastic spending cuts. Obama’s answer was, “You don’t get a do over.”

    Boehner screwed Obama on the first deal big time. He made promises and then pulled the rug out from under him more than once. Why should Obama do a deal with someone that either has no intentions of keeping his promise or is too much of a coward to stand up to the extremists in his own party.

    • D_C_Wilson

      I disagree that Boehner screwed Obama over in 2011. In fact, the whole reason why he is teetering on the edge of losing his gavel now is because of the deal he made with the president then. Obama got some modest economic stimulus right before the election in exchange for future spending cuts that he knew the GOP would hang themselves before letting actually become implemented (Gasp! Some of the cuts are in defense spending! We’re not just going to make grandma eat cat food this time!).

      Boehner’s the one who’s been screwed. Nothing he can pass with just republican support in the House will pass in the Senate and he can’t even get that much done.

  • missliberties

    I feel sorry for the country.

    Going over the cliff is not a good outcome. The only good thing about it would be in these same negotiations the PResident promised to remind people of who is responsible for this mess during his state of the union.

    The sooner these tea party are out of office the better. I fear it might be a tough two years because I don’t think they are going to compromise on anything.

    • D_C_Wilson

      We are going over the cliff. Weeeeeee!

      That much has been obvious since the election when republicans suddenly woke up to the reality that they’ll have to deal with the Kenyan usurper for another four years.

      The problem is, in many districts, the only people who can force the tea party idiots out of office are even more batshit crazy, not less.

  • excitablerooster


  • POTUS needs to push hard, first, to get a plan in place that supports econ growth thru infrastructure investment/reduced tax burden for middle class (and therefore sustainable revenues to reduce debt long-term), and two, to assist in the self-immolation of the teahadists wing of the GOP. You can’t negotiate w/ crazy – as John Cole says, tire irons and anthrax aren’t viable dining options from which to choose.

    • missliberties

      He has been pushing hard. The tea party refuses to budget.

      • Seriously.

        What’s POTUS supposed to do, send in the Special Forces and make the GOPTPers vote the way he wants them to at gunpoint?

    • nathkatun7

      I am really at loss about what exactly you comment is all about.

  • bphoon

    I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.

    I don’t. Not one bit. He and his conference have painted themselves into this corner and I don’t expect the President or any other Democrat to help them out of it. If the negotiations go nowhere and everyone’s taxes go up on New Year’s, I hope the Tea Party is happy with the results of their activism.

    I really would relish the irony of Boehner having to acquiesce to a plan developed by Democrats and convince 25 Republicans to go along with it.

    The majority having to act like the minority because of their internecine squabbling. Wholly self-inflicted. Wonderfully delicious.