One of the more surreal experiences at the Reuters Washington Summit this week was hearing Republicans saying they are prepared to work with President Barack Obama over the next two years and then listing their priorities – which started with undoing and repealing almost everything he has done in the past two.
Today, at the Tart Lumber Company in Virginia, John Boehner unveiled the Republicans’ “Pledge to America” – a glossy 45-page booklet meant to set out their agenda for government. “Republicans have heard the American people,” said Boehner, the party’s leader in the House of Representatives.
As expected, there were howls of derision from the left. Many conservative commentators rallied behind the proposals to cut spending, lower taxes and balance the budget, but not everyone is happy. In his column, Reuters Breakingviews columnist James Pethokoukis argued that Republicans had missed the chance to make the case for the kind of serious fiscal reform the United States desperately needs.
“America’s so-called ‘party of no’ has finally revealed what it will say ‘yes’ to. Yet a new Republican manifesto offers little more than undoing President Barack Obama’s reforms to date, with vague talk of balanced budgets. Maybe that’s smart politics. But it’s a missed opportunity.”
Lest you think Washington Extra is letting Democrats off the hook for the lack of bipartisanship in Washington these days, there was another moment of surreal politics that stood out at this week’s Reuters summit. How can you blame the administration for the uncertainty plaguing business, one senior administration official asked, when the president has been “totally certain” all along about what he wanted to do with the Bush-era tax cuts?