Thanks to Eric Cantor, everyone can now put the Sequester Blame Game to rest. In a remarkable moment of candor, the Republican House Majority Leader opened up on exactly what led to the latest fiscal crisis. First a recap:
John Boehner’s story on who is to blame via an op-ed he wrote in the WSJ last week.
“During the summer of 2011, as Washington worked toward a plan to reduce the deficit to allow for an increase in the federal debt limit, President Obama and I very nearly came to a historic agreement. Unfortunately our deal fell apart at the last minute when the president demanded an extra $400 billion in new tax revenue—50% more than we had shaken hands on just days before.”
“It was a disappointing decision by the president, but with just days until a breach of the debt limit, a solution was still required—and fast. I immediately got together with Senate leaders Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell to forge a bipartisan congressional plan. It would be called the Budget Control Act.”
Dem’s story via Steve Benen:
The Democratic version of events happens to be the accurate one: Republicans had threatened to crash the economy on purpose unless their debt-ceiling demands were met, and in the hopes of resolving the crisis, President Obama offered Republicans an overly-generous, $4 trillion “Grand Bargain,” which included entitlement cuts and new revenue. Boehner was inclined to accept it, but his caucus balked, forcing the Speaker to walk away from the table.
So who got the story right? Dems, of course…and Republicans need not take the word of anyone other than Eric Cantor (via The New Yorker) that John Boehner is lying through his teeth.
In June of 2011, the President and the Speaker began working toward a Grand Bargain of major tax increases and spending cuts to address the government’s long-term budget deficits. Until late June, Boehner had managed to keep these talks secret from Cantor. On July 21st, Boehner paused in his discussions with Obama to talk to Cantor and outline the proposed deal. As Obama waited by the phone for a response from the Speaker, Cantor struck. Cantor told me that it was a “fair assessment” that he talked Boehner out of accepting Obama’s deal. He said he told Boehner that it would be better, instead, to take the issues of taxes and spending to the voters and “have it out” with the Democrats in the election. Why give Obama an enormous political victory, and potentially help him win reelection, when they might be able to negotiate a more favorable deal with a new Republican President? Boehner told Obama there was no deal. Instead of a Grand Bargain, Cantor and the House Republicans made a grand bet.
And the sequester was born…
The failure of the Grand Bargain led to a byzantine deal: if the two parties could not agree on a new deficit plan, then a combination of tax increases and spending cuts—cuts known, in budget jargon, as a “sequester”—would automatically kick in on New Year’s Day. (The sequester was postponed until March 1st.)
How soon before wingers start referring to Cantor as a lying liar?