In his questions session with Democrats this week, Barack Obama chastised Republicans for not backing the Conrad-Gregg deficit commission, which failed to meet the 60-vote threshold to end debate last week.
And I told them, I want to work together when we can, and I meant it. I believe that's the best way to get things done for the American people. But I also made it clear that we'll call them out when they say they want to work with us and we extend a hand and get a fist in return.
Last week, for example, you put up for a vote a bill I supported -- Conrad-Gregg fiscal commission. We were sure this was going to be bipartisan, only to see seven Republicans who co-sponsored the idea in the first place suddenly decide to vote against it.
Here's the roll call for the Conrad-Gregg commission vote, with 22 Democrats and 24 Republican opposed. It seems it is necessary once again to remind Obama that Senate Democrats, to whom he was speaking, had a 60-vote supermajority at the time of the vote and thus could have passed it all on their own (perhaps with the help of some presidential leadership?).
After the commission vote failed, Obama changed tacks, to a commission established by executive order. Rep. John Boehner is wondering where that extended hand is in forming that commission. Boehner sent this letter to Secretary Geithner today:
“The President’s fiscal commission proposal is nothing more than a partisan Washington exercise rigged to impose massive tax increases and pass the buck on the tough choices we need to be making right now. The Obama Administration should scrap this partisan fiscal commission proposal immediately and start over on a process that includes Republicans and the American people.
“Washington Democrats’ definition of ‘bipartisanship’ continues to be writing proposals of their own behind closed doors, then unveiling them and demanding Republican support. Bipartisan ends require bipartisan means, and the proposed fiscal commission fails to meet this common-sense standard."
Given that the president is so keen on working with Republicans "when he can," and that it was a bipartisan group that killed the commission in the Senate, a good-faith do-over should include Republicans. More, from John Boehner on Republicans' specific concerns, at the link:
“The American people want to see an end to Washington Democrats’ unprecedented spending binge, which is hurting our economy and stifling job creation. At the White House last December, Republicans called for bipartisan action now to stop Washington’s out-of-control spending, and last year put forth an alternative budget that would get the job done. Instead the Obama Administration wants to punt these matters to a partisan commission and move ahead immediately with a job-killing budget that spends too much, taxes too much, and borrows too much from our kids and grandkids. It’s disappointing.”