Would tea party accept a Bill Clinton-brokered deal with Obama?
Chastened by Obama’s win, Republicans are taking a hard look at the impact of the tea party wing on the party brand. The real story may be whether that makes the GOP more amenable to a deal.
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Political scientists and tea party activists also suggested that such a deal could actually be brokered by the former president, as Professor Nocas says has been discussed, especially given Mr. Clinton’s 11th hour role on the Obama campaign trail.Skip to next paragraph
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“I definitely think it would behoove Obama to put Bill Clinton in charge of outreach, because Barack Obama frankly doesn’t know how to make a deal on the Hill,” says Scott Boston, a St. Louis-based tea party activist and blogger.
“The fact is, Bill Clinton’s budget was $1.2 trillion smaller than Obama’s budget, so, given that, though I’m not for higher taxes, I’m willing to trade a higher tax rate in return for $1.2 trillion in spending cuts,” Mr. Boston says. “Either way, we need to talk about the Clinton philosophy towards making the country go again, which was, ‘I’ll meet you on tax side if you meet on spending side.’ ”
“If they want to put that ’97 budget deal on the table, that sounds attractive to me,” says Matt Kibbe, the CEO of the anti-tax group Freedom Works and coauthor of “Give Us Liberty: A tea party manifesto.”
“It seems like there’s more pressure on the president,” says Kibbe. “We had a status quo election and the president must have known that this fiscal train wreck is coming, it’s there for everyone to see, and how is he going to lead in this situation? He’s not going to be able to demagogue the rich, because you could tax them at 100 percent and you couldn’t fix this problem.”
Indicating new Republican flexibility, House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio said Wednesday that the GOP is open to discussing tax increases "under the right conditions" to get deficits under control.
Until now, Obama has pushed for more moderate deficit cuts offset by raising taxes on “the rich,” or couples making more than $250,000 a year. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the problem with Obama’s tack is that it doesn’t go far enough to reduce the deficit and the nation’s record $16 trillion debt in a significant way. The president has also refused to make deep cuts and reforms to social programs, as Republicans have demanded in their budgets.
A more likely scenario than Bill Clinton returning to the federal budget table is that establishment Republicans either have to maneuver the negotiations away from the House’s tea party coalition or force ultra-conservative members to bend into compromise – a tall order, suggests Professor Dyck, at the Center for Public Opinion.
“Can these people who have been lobbing bombs at each other, the president and the tea party, step away from the rhetorical campaign and come up with a negotiation on the fiscal cliff in about 16 days?” wonders Dyck. “I think the tea party is going to fight it kicking and screaming, because it is, ultimately, an ideologically pure movement.”