Now that it is clear that a possible deal between Republicans and the White House has collapsed, Democrat activists are breathing easier tonight. They may even be breaking out the champagne.
Throughout the week progressives were panic stricken that a deal was close at hand. Over the week they launched a political campaign to torpedo any White House deal. They may have succeeded tonight.
This outcome reflects the point of view espoused by Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief David Corn. Yesterday he predicted: ”It may well be that for Obama the best political outcome is no deal.”
As talks broke down late today, House Speaker John Boehner (D-OH) pointed an accusing finger at the president, saying the White House upped its demands by insisting on $400 billion in new taxes.
In the last 24 hours there has been widespread fear among Democrats that the president was poised to surrender to Republicans on spending, entitlements, and taxes.
Nearly giving up on the White House, stricken progressive groups this week launched a counter campaign called an “Emergency Call-in Day.”
Activist groups hoped to generate tens of thousands of calls into Congress on Friday. They saw the House and Senate as a last ditch firewall to any bad White House deal. The ad hoc coalition said they were “demanding that they reject the terrible deal being reportedly negotiated by the White House,” according to the organizers. The group consists of MoveOn.org, the AFL-CIO, CREDO Action, Democracy for America, PCCC, AFT, Campaign for America’s Future, and Change Nation.
Moveon.org director Justin Rubin is quoted in The Nation today as saying: “The Democratic base did not work night and day to elect Democrats so that they could cave to Tea Party extremists.”
Across the board Democrats still seem dispirited and alarmed. They have staked out “no-no-no” positions on virtually all proposals that are circulating in Washington. This campaign indeed may have resulted in the retreat by the president.
Democratic fears spilled over to hysteria on Thursday when the Washington Post erroneously reported a deal that would cut federal spending by $3.7 trillion over ten years and contain no new taxes.
Both the White House and Boehner said no deal had been cut. But it still triggered a congressional revolt among Democrats on the Hill. Politico reported yesterday that reports of the deal sparked “a fierce, angry, even screaming reception at the Senate Democratic Caucus” with Jack Lew, President Obama’s budget chief.
Washington Post blogger Felicia Sonmez wrote that “House Democrats and liberal groups were livid” about outlines of the deal.