Every morning the NOW team gathers to discuss the stories of the day, flesh out ideas, and go over the first drafts of that show’s segments. Since the election, the fiscal cliff has mostly dominated the news cycle, and we’ve taken a deep dive into the issue. Recently, we started recalling the parallels between this would-be deal and the one attempted not very long ago, involving the same players and many related issues.
Here’s how Matt Bai put it in his New York Times Magazine article earlier this year:
It’s one thing for a Democratic president to embrace painful cuts in Medicare and Social Security benefits, or for a Republican speaker to contemplate raising taxes, if they can ultimately claim that they’ve joined together to make the hard decisions necessary for the country; it’s quite another thing to shatter the trust of your most ideological allies and come away with nothing to show for it. Obama and Boehner have clung to their separate realities not just because it’s useful to blame each other for the political dysfunction in Washington, but because neither wants to talk about just how far he was willing to go.
Bai was writing about the failed debt deal of 2011, but without looking at the piece’s dateline, you might very well confuse it for analysis of today’s news. And while Congress has until December 31 to reach a deal on the fiscal cliff, there are already eerie similarities. Here’s how Bai summed up the two parties’ perspectives in his March story:
The Republican version of reality goes, briefly, like this: Boehner and Obama shook hands on a far-reaching deal to rewrite the tax code, roll back the cost of entitlements and slash deficits. But then Obama, reacting to pressure from Democrats in Congress, panicked at the last minute and suddenly demanded that Republicans accede to hundreds of billions of dollars in additional tax revenue. A frustrated Boehner no longer believed he could trust the president’s word, and he walked away. Obama moved the goal posts, is the Republican mantra.
In the White House’s telling of the story, Obama and Boehner did indeed settle on a rough framework for a deal, but it was all part of a fluid negotiation, and additional revenue was just one of the options on the table — not a last-minute demand. And while the president stood resolute against pressure from his own party, Boehner crumpled when challenged by the more radical members in his caucus….Boehner couldn’t deliver, is what Democrats have repeatedly said.
A new Gallup poll finds that Americans are widely in favor of a compromise on the fiscal cliff: Sixty-two percent would prefer a deal, versus 25% who want their leaders to stick to their principles. Gallup also finds that a majority of Americans believe a deal will be struck. If they’re right, perhaps the postmortem on this story will read a little differently.
Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine (@benwllacewells)
Melinda Henneberger, The Washington Post (@melindadc)
Karen Finney, Fmr. DNC Communications Director/msnbc Political Analyst (@finneyk)
Josh Green, Sr. National Correspondent, Bloomberg Businessweek (@joshuagreen)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member, House Budget Committee (@chrisvanhollen)
Kerry Kennedy, President, RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights (@kerrykennedyrfk)