A smart move by Republican leader John Boehner today, or a nicely laid trap if you prefer. Boehner echoed yesterday’s call from former White House budget director Peter Orszag, for a two-year extension to the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans. Boehner appealed for both parties to “do this together” to “show the American people that we understand what is going on in this country.” There was, of course, one big difference between Boehner’s and Orszag’s suggestions – the Republican leader conveniently left out the all-important promise to let all the tax cuts expire at the end of that two-year period. Not surprisingly, President Barack Obama swiftly rejected the offer, insisting that the country could not afford to extend tax cuts for the rich. “This isn’t to punish folks who are better off — God bless them – it is because we can’t afford the $700 billion price tag,” he said in Ohio. You get the feeling this partisan battle isn’t going to be settled easily or early, and the lingering uncertainty this creates is probably not good news for the economy. Expect the blame game to continue.
Elsewhere today, a lovely special report on the Tea Party and how the upstart is growing up and going back to school, determined to shed its amateur status. If it succeeds, the movement’s influence could well extend beyond November and into the 2012 presidential race, although who that might ultimately benefit is very much an open question. Take a look also at our exclusive report on how the Pentagon’s top watchdog has abandoned efforts to do in-depth audits of defense contracts, leaving billions of dollars of taxpayer money at risk from overpayments and fraud.
Meanwhile, another blame game continues over the Gulf oil spill, with BP’s own investigation not impressing Democratic congressman and critic Edward Markey. “This report is not BP’s mea culpa,” he said. “Of their own eight key findings, they only explicitly take responsibility for half of one. BP is happy to slice up the blame as long as they get the smallest piece.”
Finally today, it could be time for a game of musical chairs at the White House. Washington is wondering how long Obama’s abrasive right-hand man Rahm Emanuel is going to be sticking around, now that the Chicago mayor’s job has come free. It would be ‘”an unbelievably attractive opportunity,” said David Axelrod, while Robert Gibbs pointed out that the job “doesn’t come around a lot.” Rahm, we are told, has not decided yet, but already people are talking about possible successors. The early field includes: deputy national security adviser Tom Donilon; Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain; and Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett. Even more tantalizing, perhaps, is the possibility that his departure could represent the start of a shake-up of the president’s inner circle after the November elections.
Here are our top stories from today…
BP and partners trade blame for oil spill
A BP investigation of the Gulf of Mexico disaster played down its own role in the world’s worst offshore oil spill and pointed the finger at what it said were failures by contractors. The 193-page internal report drew fire from a prominent lawmaker and one of the contractors, Transocean Ltd, called it a “self-serving” attempt by the British energy giant to escape responsibility for the “fatally flawed” design of its deepsea Macondo well.