How about a little good news / bad news? Good news is that two of the four most powerful Republicans on Capitol Hill have finally realized that the Biden-led “budget talks” are pointless. Bad news is the most powerful Republican in Washington still thinks a deal can get done; and now has to go-it-alone…
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), in an interview after a negotiating session he described as bitterly contentious, said he would not be attending Thursday’s scheduled meeting of the bipartisan deficit-reduction leadership group. Mr. Cantor said he believed it was time for the negotiations to move to a higher level.
“We’ve reached the point where the dynamic needs to change,” Mr. Cantor said. “It is up to the president to come in and talk to the speaker. We’ve reached the end of this phase. Now is the time for these talks to go into abeyance.”
An aide to Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.) also said the lawmaker was withdrawing from the talks. The two have been the GOP representatives in the negotiations for the last six weeks.
But he’s still “optimistic?”
“Still, Mr. Cantor remained optimistic about the prospects for a deal. He said the Biden group had already made significant progress and had tentatively identified more than $2 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years. But he said there could be no agreement on an overall package without breaking the impasse between Republicans’ refusal to accept any tax increase, and Democrats insistence that some tax hikes be part of the deal.”
So you’re saying you’re optimistic that a deal can get done, but you know the only way it’s going to happen is if one side caves? And you’re getting out now?
Anyone else think Boehner’s about to fold?
If Cantor and Kyl are running for the exits, I can’t help but think Boehner’s about to fall on the grenade here. Cantor’s a spineless geek, but Kyl has on many occasions demonstrated that he possesses the necessary stones. If they’re getting out together here, the end result is destined to be anything but desirable.
“It was ridiculous,” the aide said.
House Speaker John Boehner reiterated those concerns in a briefing with reporters late Thursday morning. “Tax hikes are off the table,” he said. “First off, raising taxes is going to destroy jobs. If you raise taxes on people we need to grow the economy and hire workers, guess what? They’re not going to do it.”
Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf, testifying elsewhere on Capitol Hill, lent some weight to that concern. Questioned on whether the debate over tax hikes was keeping capital on the sidelines, Elmendorf said, “Uncertainty about federal policy is diminishing household and business spending.”
Cantor, in his written statement, offered a glimmer of hope. He applauded Biden for his work “in bringing us this far.”
“I believe that we have identified trillions in spending cuts, and to date, we have established a blueprint that could institute the fiscal reforms needed to start getting our fiscal house in order,” Cantor said.
But his pullout from the talks signals how difficult any potential deal — particularly one including tax hikes — could be to sell to the majority GOP House caucus. On the Republican end, Cantor’s decision would likely punt the issue up to Boehner.
One senior House Democratic aide noted this likelihood.
“He just threw Boehner under the bus,“ the aide told Fox News.
Much more at Memeorandum…