John Boehner

From The Washington Post:

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) responded defiantly to President Obama’s comments earlier Wednesday about the impending “fiscal cliff.”

In an appearance before cameras that lasted less than one minute, Boehner said the House would pass his “Plan B” on Thursday “to make permanent tax relief for nearly every American – 99.81 percent of the American people.”

“I hope the president will get serious soon about providing and working with us on a balanced approach,” Boehner said. “Then the president will have the decision to make: He can call on Senate Democrats to pass that bill or he can be responsible for the largest tax increase in American history.”

With that, the Speaker walked away from the microphones without taking questions.

According to CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller, Boehner’s statement lasted 51 seconds. I’m not sure why Boehner didn’t just send out a press release — except he probably wanted some face time on television and a clip to be played on the radio. That’s fine, except that a press conference should be exactly that — let at least a few questions be asked.

Maybe he’ll get it right next time.


With less than 30 hours left before federal funding runs out, it’s time to start really worrying that we’re going to experience the first partial government shutdown since 1995.

Budget negotiations will continue tonight during a White House meeting between President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and I hope they agree on a funding bill that both political parties can accept. I don’t know what to expect, though; I’m not sure whether they actually will reach an agreement in time to avoid a partial government shutdown.

This is serious stuff, but I think an injection of humor is needed right now. Fortunately, TBS broadcast a 2007 episode of “The Office” today wherein Darryl asks Michael for a pay raise. During the negotiation meeting, Michael loses the upper hand (if he ever had it) when Darryl notices he is wearing a woman’s suit. That prompts the following reflection from Michael:

“Negotiations are all about controlling things, about being in the driver’s seat, and you make one tiny mistake, you’re dead. I made one tiny mistake: I wore a woman’s clothes.”

Keep that advice in mind tonight, guys. Don’t wear women’s clothing to the negotiation meeting. Not only would you lose control of the negotiations, but it might make Boehner cry, too.

Actor Steve Carell’s 7-year run as Michael Scott comes to an end on Thursday, April 28, and “The Office” will miss him. Will Ferrell’s four-episode arc as Michael’s temporary replacement, Deangelo Vickers, begins next week. Michael’s permanent replacement will be revealed during the season finale on Thursday, May 19.

Let’s hope that if a government shutdown takes place, it’s over before then.

It’s time for a political pop quiz:

Question: What’s the best way to know your efforts are truly bipartisan?

Answer: Factions on both sides of the political aisle are mad at you, yet many Americans believe what you did was the right thing.

Case in point: The tax-cut compromise bill reached through negotiation between President Obama and Republican congressional leaders. Nobody is 100-percent pleased with the bill, and that’s because both political parties had to give up something to get something in return.

That’s how it worked in the good old days before hyper-partisan talking heads ruled the cable news networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yep, it was good old-fashioned compromise that created this deal.

And with all due respect to incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner – who recently said on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that he rejects the word “compromise” as meaning the equivalent of showing weakness by not standing up for what one believes in – compromise is exactly what all our lawmakers should be focusing on doing these days.

When Obama easily won the 2008 presidential race, it wasn’t just because he was the anti-Bush and seemed to understand economics better than John McCain. People also bought into his campaign promise to change Washington, D.C., politics by bringing compromise back to the table.

Unfortunately, Obama’s victory on those grounds essentially turned the Republicans into what a Democratic operative keenly dubbed “The Party of No.” Whatever the Democrats wanted, the Republicans didn’t. And outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to be approaching her job the same way as the Republicans. If the GOP wanted something, the “Speaker of No” didn’t. That’s partly what made Pelosi an easy target for Republicans during this year’s midterm elections.

Then, on Nov. 2, the Democrats got jolted back to reality by the “shellacking” they suffered at the polls. That seemed to remind Obama that the majority of Americans – whom I believe sit firmly in the center of the political aisle, or at least have aisle seats – want compromise, even if that’s not what some of them want to call it. That much was evident when he took control of the tax-cut situation and came to a compromise with GOP congressional leaders regarding the Bush-era tax cuts, extension of unemployment benefits and Social Security payroll taxes.

Now that they have some congressional power again, the Republicans now seem willing to compromise, too – at least on some issues, like repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays and lesbians, and finally moving forward on the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.

Should both political parties come to consensus about every issue? Of course not – their key differences are what make them unique from each other and draw loyalties from the electorate. But they need t0 remember that every issue is not one of those exceptions. If they don’t, we’re headed for gridlock.

This column was originally published in the Thursday, Dec. 23, 2010, issue of Ottawa Delivered.