Jul
15
2011

The Brave World of Boehner/Obama Bipartisanship

Media love the "middle" in politics–where leaders of the two major parties come together to find common ground, renew the national spirit and/or live up to the ideals of the Founders. Time magazine (7/14/11) has a soppy piece about Barack Obama and Republican leader John Boehner's attempt to reach a budget deal.

Those efforts–some of which happened in secret–are, according to reporters Jay Newton-Small and Michael Scherer,

the story of two self-described dealmakers in a town where dealing is often a synonym for surrender, who ran up against the limits of their roles, their powers and their colleagues. Boehner and Obama have gotten credit for thinking big and working to overhaul outdated economic policies. But they waited too long to start, in part because they didn't take the time to get to know each other years ago. They also misjudged their armies: They rode out to rescue the country, only to watch many of their followers run for the hills.

They explain how the pair came up with the idea to use the debt ceiling as a lever for a budget deal in order to

freeze out their respective extremists and make the kind of historic deal that no one really thought possible anymore–bigger than when Reagan and Tip O'Neill overhauled the tax code in 1986 or when Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich passed welfare reform a decade later.

You got it– each side has its crazies that prevent great things from happening. Obama tried to freeze the left-wing extremists, and Boehner has…. well…I guess the upshot, according to Time, is unfortunately all the extremists balked; the left wouldn't cut Social Security benefits, the right wouldn't make wealthy people pay any more in taxes:

The Republican refusal to consider any new revenues, including making easy fixes to the tax code to close loopholes for businesses and other groups that don't need public subsidies, is as recklessly absolutist as Democrats' insistence that bloated entitlement programs are untouchable.

Protecting Social Security benefits (average monthly check: $1,177) is just the same as protecting corporations from paying higher taxes. That makes sense only in The Sensible Center that the Beltway media have concocted.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.