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Obama Reached Breaking Point In Talks!

This article from Bloomberg is one of the more detailed outlines of what happened during the budget negotiations:

Obama Reached Breaking Point in Budget Talks After Tense Hour With Boehner

By Lisa Lerer – Apr 11, 2011

President Barack Obama had finally reached his breaking point.

For more than an hour in an Oval Office meeting on April 7, House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any compromise on the government’s budget include a prohibition on federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Obama already had reluctantly agreed to a provision banning the District of Columbia from spending funds on abortion services — and that was as far as he would go.

“Nope, zero,” he told Boehner, according to a senior Democratic aide. “John, this is it.” The room went silent.

The tense negotiations culminating in a last-minute deal the next night to avert a government shutdown underscored the challenges facing both Boehner and Obama as they tackle the fiscal issues that will dominate the debate during the next two years in Washington…

Notice how this is all cast in terms of Mr. Obama. His "breaking point." We will hear almost nothing about Harry Reid or any of the rest of the Democrats in Congress.

Besides, why should there be any debate from Obama? Remember how often he self righteously lectured us about the need for deficit reduction? Of course that was back when he was trying get the biggest tax hike in our nation’s history by not renewing the Bush tax cuts.

For weeks, Obama, 49, stayed out of direct negotiations over the budget accord, sparking complaints from lawmakers in both parties on Capitol Hill that he waited too long to get involved. He spoke to Boehner, 61, directly just twice between Feb. 19, when the House passed its budget bill, and April 2, according to Republican aides.

Serious negotiations only began after Republicans passed the sixth stopgap spending measure on March 15, funding the government through April 8. Fifty-four Republicans voted against the bill, forcing Boehner to rely on Democrats to pass the measure and making it clear that another short-term extension wouldn’t be tolerated by the Tea Party-wing of his conference, which is pressing hardest for deficit reduction.

The two sides struggled even to agree on a baseline for how much spending to cut. Formal talks stalled after a heated March 22 meeting, at which a Republican Appropriations aide insisted on using as a starting point the House bill that included $61 billion in spending cuts, said one of the people familiar with the talks. Democrats offered to cut $10 billion.

Six days later, White House Chief of Staff William Daley reinvigorated discussions when he suggested that Democrats could accept another $20 billion in cuts. The staffs began working on a deal that would slash $33 billion in spending, according to aides.

Negotiations suffered another setback on March 30, however, when Vice President Joe Biden announced the $33 billion number to reporters after a meeting on Capitol Hill. That fueled reports of a tentative deal and angered Republican negotiators, who feared a Tea Party backlash.

Notice how, as usual, Mr. Biden managed to screw things up.

As Tea Party activists protested outside the Capitol, chanting “shut it down” in a chilly drizzle, Boehner disputed the reports of a deal.

“There is no agreement on a set of numbers, and nothing will be agreed to until everything’s agreed to,” he told reporters.

So exactly how much more did the Tea Party get? Another $5 billion in additional cuts? The US borrows almost $5 billion a day. Everything else would seem to have just been window dressing to placate the Tea Party.

Behind closed doors, however, he began selling the idea of a compromise to his caucus, reminding the 87 new Republican House members that his party controls only that chamber and lacks the influence to impose its will on the Democratic- controlled Senate and White House.

In private meetings, Boehner argued that a shutdown could have catastrophic effects for the party by handing Democrats a political “win.”

“He put it in context,” said Representative Dan Lungren, of California. “He said, ‘Look, nobody is going to get 100 percent of what they want,’ including him.”

The release of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s 2012 budget plan on April 5 helped convince some lawmakers to back a compromise, said House Republican aides. While party leaders debated whether releasing the Ryan proposal would complicate the talks, the Wisconsin Republican’s ambitious plan calling for an overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid and deep cuts reassured some members they would get additional opportunities to spotlight their efforts to slash spending.

“We’ve got a few months left in this fiscal year; let’s reduce the size of government, and let’s focus on 2012,” said Representative Adam Kinzinger, a freshman from Illinois.

Of course there is some wisdom in looking at things this way. But there is also the concern that we are always being told ‘don’t worry. We’ll get them next time.’ Only ‘next time’ never comes.

Republicans also introduced a weeklong funding bill that would cut $12 billion in spending and fund the Defense Department through the end of the year. The White House vowed to veto such a proposal, called the “troop funding bill” by Republicans.

Still, Republican aides say the measure put additional pressure on Democrats to agree to cuts by positioning them between funding soldiers and shutting down the government.

On April 6, Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Daley, Biden, Boehner, White House budget director Jacob Lew and top aides convened in the White House to try to design a framework for the deal. Boehner said he wouldn’t propose a bottom or top-line number, because the spending cuts depended on the number of so-called policy riders that Democrats would agree to include in the final deal.

Democrats tried to force Boehner to accept $33 billion, according to Republican aides familiar with the negotiations. He refused, and Democrats left the meeting doubtful they would reach a deal, though the lawmakers agreed to reconvene.

The next night, the parties reached agreement on the broad composition of a bill that included $38 billion in cuts. Yet the sticking point remained the Planned Parenthood funding ban, which Republicans said was non-negotiable.

Again, Boehner managed to get a measly additional $5 billion in cuts. The push for the so called ‘social issue’ riders were obviously meant to impress the Tea Party. But who really believed they would go anywhere? — Oh, and it turned out the funding for Planned Parenthood was negotiable, after all.

Democrats were adamant that it not be in the bill, knowing the provision would inflame their base and could alienate the independent voters whose support Obama will need to win a second term.

Toward the end of the meeting, after repeated efforts to insert the family planning rider, an exasperated Biden said the administration was prepared to “take it to the American people” and allow a shutdown over an issue unrelated to government spending.

Aides headed back to the Capitol around 11:45 p.m. and by 3 a.m., talks had stalled. Republican aides were asking for more than $40 billion in cuts and standing firm on the abortion provisions.

Does this mean the Republicans suddenly wanted an additional $40 billion dollars in cuts? If so, this is the only place where we heard anything about the $73 billion dollars in cuts the Republicans were reportedly demanding. 

The following morning, after not hearing from Boehner, Obama called the speaker and relayed his frustrations that the current state of negotiations didn’t reflect their talks from the night before.

The breakthrough came on the morning of April 8, when Republicans embraced an idea originally proposed by Senator Dick Durbin, of Illinois, to hold an up-or-down vote on the most contentious policy amendments.

What a laugh. As if the Democrat-controlled Senate is going to vote to defund Planned Parenthood or Obama-care, or any of the other sacred cows of the Democrat Party.

The Republicans gave up their demands for $40 billion dollars in additional cuts for a few symbolic votes in the Senate? Granted, it might be nice to make Democrat Senators vote for abortion with an election coming up. But will they be worth $40 billion dollars?

As aides hammered out the final language, the lawmakers stayed in constant contact. Obama and Boehner spoke four times on April 8, and the president called Reid repeatedly, with a few calls just minutes apart.

Boehner called his conference together at noon and again at 9:45 p.m. to present an almost-final version of the deal, rattling off a list of items including health-care and abortion votes to Republican applause

Boehner told members he had gotten the best deal he could, given that Republicans control only the House, and that they had changed the debate to focus on cutting spending rather than approving new programs.

“We control one half of one third of the government,” Issa told reporters as he left the meeting. “We don’t mandate anything.”

It’s funny, but we don’t ever recall hearing Nancy Pelosi or Tip O’Neil saying anything like this. Or any other previous Democrat Speaker of the House.

Forty-five minutes later, aides shook hands on a final deal and Daley, Obama’s chief of staff, called the president in his residence to tell him a deal had been reached. At 11:04 p.m., Obama addressed the American people from the White House Blue Room, with the Washington Monument lit behind him.

“Tomorrow, I’m pleased to announce that the Washington Monument, as well as the entire federal government, will be open for business.”

What a hero. Mr. Obama has saved the country yet again.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, April 11th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

12 Responses to “Obama Reached Breaking Point In Talks!”

  1. Georgfelis says:

    Note: “according to a senior Democratic aide” in the top part of the article.

    I don’t believe any quote of a Republican when delivered by a Democrat, I don’t care who they are, unless they have a tape recording. Boehner stuck to his guns (whoops, I hope thats not hate speech) and grew a spine, something that the rest of the Republicans can learn to do also.

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So do budgets.

    • Rusty Shackleford says:

      Georg, I have to respectfully disagree. After at first thinking this might work, I have had a few days to ponder and it actually has resulted in me becoming angry. When dealing with petulant children, parents often make the mistake of appeasing them and acquiescing to them in order to “keep the peace” in the household. Well, using that analogy, the petulant children just got away with snookering the parents yet again.

      Boner is still trying to approach the political arena in “bill clinton” terms, thinking that they, the left, will move towards the middle if they “play it just so” like a deft, clever game of poker. But the left isn’t playing poker anymore; They’re playing Russian Roulette, where the republicans keep winning another round. The democrats have nothing to lose. They have it all. Even with a republican-led congress. Why? Because the republicans haven’t woken up to the new rules. That is that the rules apply to the republicans but that the democrats have none, and aren’t going to play by anything but their own rules. Again: None.

      What this means is that there will be no conversation or debate on defunding Planned murderhood and the TWMBR debate that is “promised” or “agreed to” as part of the budget deal will never happen with Dingy Harry at the helm of the senate. Or, if by some strange quirk it does, it won’t turn out the way the majority of Americans would like. He is still an enemy of the people and a national socialist. He likes his position and intends to keep it. He has no grace, no manners and is a bully.

      For a brief while, I succumbed to the notion that maybe now the republicans will start to lead and take control and not sway back and also not stand right in the way of a democrat flying punch but no….they continue on thinking that getting the media to love them is important and that things must look right, even if they aren’t. What a ludicrous game that is.

      Finally, as the game has changed, it’s time to simply tell the democrats “NO!” in no uncertain terms. In other words, take control of the message, stand fast but without the whining that the national socialists do. As with a strong parent…”NO!” is a very effective tool when it’s enforced with sufficient effort. But just like the parent who doesn’t want their kid mad at them, they say ‘no’ but then relent so everyone can sit and have ice cream. The democrats get their way, gloat and then wait for the next opportunity to act up in the grocery store with everyone watching to see what the parent will do.

  2. proreason says:

    “We control one half of one third of the government,”

    ok. The only problem with that is that the 1/2 of 1/3 has 100% responsibility for setting the budget.

    Never forget that you don’t have to lie by claiming the sun is a triangle. There are millions of ways to lie, as the criminal class teaches us every day.

    • tranquil.night says:

      We do not want everything overnight.

      We want the people we elected to represent us not to kow to fearmongerors.

      Our current dissatisfaction is over substance AND strategy.

  3. tranquil.night says:

    And we let him slither away.

    Eh, there was one positive outcome to the Tea Party holding strong, and it’s that the beltway establishment of frauds have definitively outted themselves. We finally can see clearly who gets it and who’s just trying to personally capitalize off it.

  4. fjmathis says:

    It’s all about the votes! Obama risks losing a huge voting block if he agrees to defund Planned Parenthood. Look how Hollywood and other libs are going crazy about this issue. It’s $300M. If all of these rich, Hollywood types are so concerned about it, why don’t they give their own money to PP? They could raise $300 million in a day! Give me a break. And I love how they say “women’s basic health needs.” I’m sorry, but most women don’t go to PP for “basic” health care. Who are they trying to fool any way?

    • tranquil.night says:

      And amazingly, we had Reid/Obama in a position where they were willing to shut down the government and veto troop pay to keep the trough flowing to the DeathFarm. That’s a PR fight not even RINOs could’ve lost, so, naturally, they caved.

    • proreason says:

      I’m beginning to believe the deal was struck before the 2010 election.

      What else can explain why the Republicans humiliated themselves and got next to nothing?

      It would explain why the dims didn’t pass a budget. The dims also would have paid more attention to the polls than the rinos. The arrogant rinos, of course, wouldn’t have believed that a knuckle-dragging Tea Party tsunami could happen. The dims had greater incentive to believe the numbers. So, the rinos probably approached the dims and thought they struck a good deal, since they expected to only pick up a few seats.

      Everything since then has been theatre, with the marxists cooperating to help the idiot rinos pretend like they were doing something, while the dims have been laughing their asses off the whole time.

      Bottom line, 38% of a promise; 3.8% of the new spending since 2008; 1% of the current budget.

      Appropriately, it’s about the same % of YOUR budget that you spend on toilet paper.

  5. canary says:

    Fox reported several times that Obama told them to get the deal done early morning, because Obama wanted to fly to “Indiana” that day. Obama was on stand-by all day, fuming no doubt of missing another trip to campaign in Indiana.

    Some say Obama played out the The West Wing scene from 5th season. “Then Shut it Down”


    Never watched the show, but maybe Obama was a faithful watcher

  6. Perdido says:

    Ample proof the the Tea Party has a bit of work left to do. Now we target the cowards.

  7. BigOil says:

    I believe the headline should read Obama pushes the United States to the breaking point. Meanwhile, Boehner either doesn’t have the stones for this fight, or he is not smart enough to understand the definition of bankruptcy.

    Boehner and his fellow beltway Republicans are not even on the correct playing field. This battle should be focused on what progams and agencies to eliminate, not cutting a few billion dollars through so called budget reform. Even if Republicans can manage to shave a couple billion dollars from a federal agency, the bureaucrats continue to churn out regulations and steal our liberty. There is also no mechanism in place to stop the Marxist party from accelerating spending and wiping out all the cuts once they regain power.

    If the strategy doesn’t change, and quickly, only the severity of the economic collapse is in quesion.

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