John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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The Clock

Posted on January 2, 2013


Time is slowly but surely running out on the Obama Administration.

The small tax agreement passed by the House last night makes it harder for Obama to do other things with his time in the White House.

That is the inevitable truth that seems lost on conservatives who opposed a deal to make permanent 98% of the Bush tax cuts.

Mitch McConnell is a master at clock management, and as minority leader, his job is to make it as hard as possible for the President to enact his left-wing agenda.

As I wrote yesterday, McConnell was the master strategist who decided that the Congress would deal first with taxes and then with spending.

Conservative leaders (well, the ones most desperate to raise money attacking Republicans) are professionally apoplectic.  They can’t believe that Republicans didn’t get any spending cuts included in this deal, after they torpedoed John Boehner’s plan which included massive spending cuts and popular tax provisions.

But Plan C wasn’t designed to include spending cuts, you blithering idiots.   That comes later, in the fight over the debt limit.

The President has already declared that the debt limit is off the table, but of course, we all know that he is posturing.  Nothing is off the table, and the fact of the matter is that Republicans need to come up with substantial spending cuts if they are to gain the respect of their political base.

After the fight on the debt limit will come a fight on sequester.  After the fight on the sequester will come a fight on the 2013 Appropriations bills.

All of these fights will take the time and attention of the President himself.  All of these fights will take political capital and energy and promises.  By focusing on the budget issues, Republicans make it harder for the President to focus on other things, like immigration and gun control, and whatever crazy left-wing agenda items he might want to add to the list.

Imagine if last night, the grand bargain came together, and Republicans and Democrats cleared up everything in one vote.  The President wouldn’t have high-fived the Speaker and said, “my job is done here.”

He would have moved on to gun control.   He can’t do that now.   Now he has to talk exclusively about the debt limit.   He has to burn up political capital on an issue that dove-tails quite nicely with out-of-control spending.

The clock is running out on the Obama White House, and the more time we talk about fiscal issues, the less time he has to get his left-wing agenda through the Congress.