Byron York – It’s possible to have a strong hand and still overplay it. As Republicans see things, that’s what President Obama is doing in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations.
In private conversation, some in the GOP appear a little sheepish about the fact that they once took the president seriously. Even though he had the upper hand after winning re-election, they thought he genuinely wanted to avoid going over the cliff and would negotiate in good faith. Then Obama sent Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to Capitol Hill with a thumb-in-the-eye offer, and Republicans got the message.
In subsequent days, Obama has not only flatly rejected a Republican proposal that, unlike Obama’s, made concessions on tax revenue. He has also ratcheted up his demands — he now says there will be no fiscal cliff deal without a deal on the debt ceiling as well, which he has demanded unilateral authority to control. And he has, in public, addressed Republicans as if they were unruly children in need of discipline.
”If Congress in any way suggests that they’re going to tie negotiations to debt ceiling votes …” Obama told the Business Roundtable recently, “I will not play that game. Because we’ve got to break that habit before it starts.”