I’m not sure it’s widely understood just how angry some of the major stakeholders on the left are about the latest turns in the fiscal cliff talks. The sight of the White House offering more concessions to John Boehner, only to be met with more GOP intransigence in the form of his absurd Plan B, is stirring bad memories of 2011 and has some on the left insisting that the only proper response is for Obama to rescind his most recent offer.
Case in point: The AFL-CIO wants Obama to pull back his proposal to raise the income threshold on the tax hikes to $400,000 and to rescind the offer of Chained CPI on Social Security.
“He needs to recognize what everyone else recognizes, which is that he made an overly generous offer to Boehner, and Boehner threw it back at him,” Damon Silvers, the policy director for the AFL-CIO, told me this afternoon. “The appropriate response is to tell Boehner the offer is no longer valid.”
Silvers said Obama should reboot and get back to a set of proposals that is more in line with the policies he ran on — the ones that got him reelected.
“We want the president to come forward with an offer that reflects the reason why he won,” Silvers said. “We want the president to fight for two things: One is an end to the Bush tax cuts for the top two percent, and the other is to protect Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.” Silvers confirmed that the AFL-CIO wants Obama to pull back on the $400,000 threshold and Chained CPI offers.
This comes as the House GOP leadership continues to furiously line up votes for Plan B: The Hill’s latest whip count shows that 25 Republicans are a firm or likely No, leaving Boehner an extremely thin margin of error. However, it’s still possible that several Dems in the House could defect and vote for Plan B. One leadership aide would only tell me that “not many” would vote for it. It’s not clear, though, whether those Dems will vote for it if their votes would mean the measure passes.
As for the AFL-CIO’s demand, the White House is not likely to give it any serious consideration. Obama wants a deal, and it’s looking more like Plan B may go down to defeat, which would leave Boehner in an extremely weak state; any ultimatums from the White House right now could make a deal even less likely.
But the AFL-CIO’s demand is a sign that Boehner’s recent ultimatums have left us in a situation where the left simply won’t tolerate a single additional concession of any significance from the White House. Additionally, labor would like the White House to make it clearer to Republicans that Obama is prepared to go over the cliff, rather than agree to a bad deal — a message that pulling back the last offer would deliver forcefully.
UPDATE: In an interview with Sam Stein, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka also expressed displeasure over Obama’s offer, though he stopped short of saying Democrats should walk away from it.