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John Boehner gave up on fiscal cliff negotiations after he was unable to get House Republicans to agree to any proposal at all, even one that he himself had crafted. The fate of the Republic, he said, was now in the Senate’s hands. So how is Mitch McConnell handling things?
An aide said Wednesday that McConnell had not been in contact with any top Democrats, including Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, during the holiday break….Always cautious, McConnell has kept a decidedly low profile during the last few weeks of political theater in the Capitol….Behind the scenes, he  helped devise Boehner’s Plan B maneuver, which failed to gain enough Republican votes to be brought up in the House. In the aftermath of that defeat, however, McConnell may be unwilling to take on the job of deal-maker. The reasons reflect the pressures that have buffeted his fellow Republicans.
“I cannot emphasize how little a constructive role he will play in this,” Democratic strategist Jim Manley, a former top Reid aide, said of McConnell. “He’s going to be very reluctant to get involved, and to the extent he does get involved, he’s going to move very slowly.”
No Republican dares to be associated with a tax increase, including McConnell. Grover Norquist and his blood pledge still control them all. Will this change after January 1, when the conversation is no longer about raising taxes, but about lowering them? That would make sense, but sense is in short supply these days in the GOP caucus. Here’s the best quote in the entire story:
“The president made a strategic miscalculation and overreached,” said one GOP aide granted anonymity to discuss party strategy. “He could have worked to reach a fair agreement, but instead he picked a fight, poisoned the well, and now we are likely to have a rather unproductive next four years. The decision he made only hurts himself.”
The president overreached! He spent an entire year campaigning on letting tax rates go up modestly on the rich, and then, after winning a convincing victory in November he insisted on….letting tax rates go up modestly on the rich. In GOP-land, that constitutes “poisoning the well,” and it will now become the official excuse for another four years of bitter obstruction and spittle-flecked conspiracy theories. The whole process took less than two months from start to finish. Happy New Year, everyone.