House Speaker John Boehner apparently broke from Republican Party principles yet again this weekend, this time with a reported agreement to give President Barack Obama a full year-long free ride that would give up all GOP leverage until early 2014 on the debt ceiling.
“House Speaker John A. Boehner has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a major concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end ‘fiscal cliff,’” the Washington Post reported late Sunday evening. “The offer came Friday, according to people in both parties familiar with the talks, as part of the latest effort by Boehner (R-Ohio) to strike a deal with President Obama to replace more than $500 billion in painful deficit-reduction measures set to take effect in January.”
The most recent rise in the debt ceiling limit was to $16.4 trillion, as set by Congress last year. The national debt is creeping up on that $16.4 trillion now; the country is less than $20 billion away.
According to the Post, Boehner’s offer doesn’t go as far as what Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner wanted: absolute executive control over the federal debt limit indefinitely into the future. But the deal also leaves Republicans with little leverage with the White House in budget negotiations and other deals over the next year.
Boehner is now in an apparent rift with his Senate Republican counterparts. When Geithner asked congressional Republicans for leeway on the debt ceiling two weeks ago, McConnell reportedly "burst into laughter" in Geithner's face. McConnell also disagrees with Boehner on tax increases, and a spokesman says he won't support any increases in tax rates on anyone.
This is Boehner’s second reported cave this weekend; earlier this weekend, he reportedly offered to increase tax rates on those earning more than $1 million per year. Obama reportedly rejected the offer, claiming Boehner hadn’t caved on Republican principles enough. Other media outlets confirmed Politico's reporting shortly thereafter.
“Speaker John Boehner has proposed allowing tax rates to rise for the wealthiest Americans if President Barack Obama agrees to major entitlement cuts, according to several sources close to the talks,” Politico reported. “It is the first time Boehner has offered any boost in marginal tax rates for any income group, and it would represent a major concession for the Ohio Republican. Boehner suggested hiking the Bush-era tax rates for top wage earners, including those with annual incomes of $1 million or more annually, beginning Jan. 1, two sources said."
Since Boehner's and Obama's fiscal cliff negotiations have been conducted in secret, behind closed doors, it's unclear which team is leaking this information about the talks. It could be the president's staff, or it could be the speaker's staff. Either way, liberal media outlets are clearly getting the leaked reports first -- a sign that whomever is doing the leaking knows the information is embarrassing for Boehner.