CNN reports, “Obama, congressional leaders to discuss impending fiscal cliff - CNN.com,” in coverage similar to that of so much other of the attention-addled media. For the last several weeks, we have been plastered with coverage of whether Boehner and Obama can reach a deal.
Hogwash. It’s time for Obama to call them on it.
The Constitutional truth is that there is absolutely no reason for Obama to negotiate anything, apart from being sucked into the sordid Washington insider silliness that both parties covet and the Republicans master. It’s the same kind of silliness that allows a Senator to put a “hold” on a bill, just so no one has to bother with a filibuster — like negotiating to buy a car, where you tell the dealer, “give me a better price before I will tell you whether I’m really interested in buying that car” in response to each offer.
But let’s take a look at the rules. The U.S. Constitution - yes, that Constitution that Congress could give a rats ass about - gives the roadmap for avoiding the artificial “cliff” that has been created as the playing field for a game of political chicken, right there in Article 1 Section 7:
“All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.”
Nowhere is the President mentioned, so far. So why negotiate with him, you Republican wussies? The Constitution goes on:
“Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.”
There you have it. Simple as that. Just two paragraphs written generations ago provide the very simple, clear roadmap to avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Obama should have continued to vacation in Hawaii waiting for the House Republican wussies [”weak or ineffectual persons,” says my dictionary], lead by Boehner, to lead the House in passing a bill. That bill should be sent to the Senate and, if the Senate does not concur, the two chambers hash it out until a majority of the House and of the Senate concur on final language of a bill. Then, and only then, does Obama need to towel off from a morning swim and look over their handiwork.
If he agrees with it, he signs it. If he can’t bring himself to sign it, but is willing to let it become law without his name on it, he can dive back into the waves and, after 10 days, it becomes law. Or, if he really dislikes it, he can veto it. Period.
If he vetoes it, then Rep. Boehner and Sen. McConnel have their work cut out for them, as it is their responsibility to lead the two chambers to either (1) override the veto, or (2) get a bill on Obama’s desk that Obama will sign. The Democrats are not the problem, since their position is already closer to what Obama will sign. It’s the radical right wing that’s the problem, and until voters turn them out on their ears, they are Boener’s and McConnel’s problem.
But the Republicans don’t want to accept the fact that they are leaders without enough followers. They have simply abdicated their responsibility to lead, preferring to lead the press into spreading the blame. They have de facto abdicated. It’s time voters return the favor and make it real, and make the abdication de jure. But that can’t happen until election day so, in the meantime, the press should stop repeating the he says/she says finger-pointing and tell the public what’s really going on: The Republican leadership simply refuses to do its job.