Thirty-six hours ago, Washington was abuzz with talk that a deal was nigh to avert the fiscal cliff, prompting a stock market rally in New York and some celebration elsewhere. Obama had made major concessions on taxes and entitlements, enraging his base but perhaps moving toward a deal, and Republicans, at least for a moment, seemed willing to play ball.
So much for all that. Speaker John Boehner yesterday decided to move ahead with his "Plan B," which the White House threatened to veto today. Boehner responded with a press conference this afternoon that lasted less than one minute and suggested talks have broken down between the parties.
In his exceedingly brief remarks, Boehner summarily rejected Obama's offer, saying it failed to meet Obama's promise of a "balanced approach." He added that the House would move ahead with the Plan B, which will extend the Bush tax cuts for all income under $1 million but do nothing about the rest of the fiscal cliff, including the sequestration, other tax hikes or the debt ceiling. "The president will then have a decision to make. He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill, or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history," Boehner said before walking away from the podium 50 seconds after arriving. He took no questions.
Boehner's strident stance seems to confirm liberals' fears that Republicans saw Obama's offer as a sign of weakness and are happy to capitalize on it. It also suggests that we're as far away from a deal as ever, and, with precious few days left, even closer to going over the cliff.