Yesterday, John Boehner made a "fiscal cliff" offer to President Obama. Within minutes (thank heaven) Obama turned it down. This is a actually a good thing for the GOP because the GOP now has a second chance to avert disaster and make the kind of offer they should've made to begin with. Before I get to my top-five suggested offers, let's backfill things a bit.
Unless Republicans get smart and immediately shake this discussion up, the "fiscal cliff" debate is over. With yesterday's offer, Speaker Boehner willingly handed his head to the opposition. The only remaining question now is how long will the pike be that Obama sticks Boehner's head on and how many victory laps will the media take as Obama holds up Boehner's head in triumph before the world.
And a triumph for Obama it is. Not only has Obama won the "fiscal cliff" battle with respect to spending, he also outmaneuvered Boehner into making a disastrous move that will divide the Republican party and cost it the support of its base. In his opening gambit yesterday, a Republican speaker of the house proposed to raise taxes by $800 billion.
Game over. Thanks for playing. Buckle up. Drive carefully.
Moreover, in return for those tax increases, Boehner only demanded $2.2 trillion in spending cuts over the next ten years.
Good grief, we're looking at trillion dollar annual deficits and Boehner's first offer is to trim by only 20%?
I don’t think I'm alone in saying that if I wanted to vote for a party okay with $8 trillion in new debt and prepared to steal nearly a trillion dollars from our economy, I'd vote Democrat.
At least Democrats are competent.
Unlike some conservatives, because of my abject hated of tax loopholes and the lobbying force and favoritism they create, on principle, I was actually okay with Boehner's proposal to raise revenue through tax reform. And I said so when Boehner first floated this idea the day after the election. What I never expected, though, was for Boehner to propose a measly $2.2 trillion in spending cuts.
Thankfully, though, Obama declared Boehner's offer so ridiculous it's not even worthy of a counter-proposal. What Boehner should do now is turn Obama's response into an opportunity. Start with a very public revocation of his "reasonable" offer and immediately follow it up with the kind of offer that might shift the debate off of where it is now -- where we have no chance of winning -- and on to ground where we have a chance.
The idea would be to start a bigger, broader national discussion about spending, the deficit, and taxes -- you know, areas where polls released just yesterday show Americans agree whole-heartedly with the GOP. So here are my top five suggested 'fiscal cliff' offers:
1. Make an offer that demands a framework where within 10 years the federal budget is balanced.
2. Make an offer that demands a framework where within 10 years we cut the debt load on the individual American from $53,000 to $25,000.
3. Make an offer that demands a Balanced Budget Amendment.
4. Make an offer that demands 1-3.
5. Make an offer that demands that overnight we secretly paint the moon yellow just to screw with people's heads.
Anything -- literally, anything -- is better than fighting on the no-win ground we're presently fighting on. And an offer that sounds like something more than just a patch job and promises long-term fiscal sanity and responsibility, might actually go over the head of the current media Narrative and penetrate with voters.
In the short-run, we'll probably still lose. But in the long run, with these kinds of bold proposals, Republicans will remain proud to be Republicans, and the president and his media minions will be seen as arguing against a ten-year proposal to do the moral and fiscally responsible thing.
If we're going to lose anyway, why not at least go down swinging during a righteous debate.
What have we got to lose by going bold?
Nothing. In fact, we have everything to gain.
But if we don't go bold, we've already lost everything.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC