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realclearworld

Why plan B should have been plan C

House Speak Boehner's "plan B" for the fiscal cliff went down in flames because he couldn't get enough members of his own caucus to vote for it. This should, if our congressmen had any sense at all, signal the end of Boehner's speakership but they don't so it won't.

Immediately after the election it became clear the Republican leadership needed to develop a shrewd plan to gain political leverage on President Obama in order to come away with some sort of victory on the so-called fiscal cliff. Plenty of strategies were floated in the conservative media. I was partial to two very different approaches.

The first approach was well articulated by Guy Benson of Town Hall. It was for the Republicans to fully embrace the Simpson-Bowles recommendations that they were hesitant to embrace before. Guy explains the benefits of this approach which include the fact that Simpson-Bowles actually reduced projected spending by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, better than any deal the GOP could get now. Another benefit is that it was negotiated in the open. Another advantage of embracing Simpson-Bowles is that the Democrats were in favor of it so Boehner could have rhetorically smashed the President's head with it, saying "compromise? We're proposing a plan your appointed special committee came up with and which we had previously rejected and your side accepted, we're agreeing to raise taxes, how much more compromise could you ask for?" This is an active strategy.

The other approach is almost the exact opposite of the above. It's to do what Rand Paul suggested, to have the House Republicans vote "present" on any fiscal cliff legislation the president proposed so that the Democrats could pass it unopposed. The benefit of this would be to make it clear that the president got his way so that when the inevitable happens (another recession) the blame would lie squarely on his shoulders and perhaps we could return to being a center-right country for another 20 years. This is a more passive strategy.

Either the active strategy or the passive strategy would have been infinitely more desirable than the failed "plan B". My preference would have been the active strategy of embracing Simpson-Bowles, even with its tax increases, because it would be better for the country even if it's worse for the party. The passive option was a gamble that the president's decisions wouldn't put us over the real fiscal cliff of insolvency.

Boehner's choice to go into closed-door negotiations with the President was a fool's game. Such negotiations are never favorable the Republicans and the President always wins because he says he was willing to give so much and the Republicans were inflexible and the media eagerly repeats that tripe.

Now we have nothing and the Republicans are going to get pegged by the media as being intransigent. People will eat that narrative up just like they've eaten every other fairy tale that's been served to them by this "light worker" who Oprah once dubbed "the One."

We deserve the government we have.

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