With the federal deficit talks broken down like a bad marriage getting worse, everyone is looking to the two people ultimately responsible for resolving the standoff on spending and taxes: President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor caught a lot of people off guard by pulling out of Biden’s group.
They had been meeting since May 5th to try to work out a massive bipartisan deficit reduction package.
Cantor says while Vice-President Joe Biden “deserves a great deal of credit for leading discussions, the group is at an impasse on taxes that only their bosses can sort out. Regardless of the progress made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue.”
All of this should be no surprise as some point the thing had to dumped in Obama’s and Boehner’s laps.
No one wants the blame for approving a deal that increases taxes.
How will it all end?
The workgroup has come up with trillions of dollars in spending cuts, but someone has to signoff on both sides.
All those cuts mean nothing until the President and the House Speaker reach an agreement on whether – and how much – to factor tax hikes into the mix of options as they aim for $2.4 trillion in cuts over ten years.
Democrats have insisted that tax increases be part of the mix, while Republicans say now is not the time to raise taxes, given the shaky economy.
House GOP leaders also say they simply don’t have the votes to pass tax increases.
Republicans have also called for making cuts to Medicare programs as a way to bring down the deficit, a proposal that Democrats say is off the table.
The White House paints a rosy picture with Press Secretary Jay Carney saying everything is merely in a state of “abeyance” and that things are moving along as planned.
Failure is not a plan.
Ladies and gentlemen – in this corner we have Barack Obama.
He wants “a balanced approach” to reducing the deficit, meaning tax hikes as well as spending cuts.
He does not support an approach that provides for a $200,000 tax cut for millionaires while simultaneously cutting Medicare programs to achieve savings.
And in this corner we have John Boehner.
The House Speaker is not happy about being called off the bench to handle tax issues in deficit talks.
He has said he think the talks could continue if they’re willing to take the tax hikes off the table.
In other words – they’d rather stay out of it.
The real politics of all this is Cantor threw Boehner under the bus by bailing out of the talks and then calling on him to jump in.
That keeps his own hands clean of any tax increases unpopular with the GOP base.
And the Tea Party.
Stay tuned for round two.