You have a choice. Go over the cliff and, with a new Congress and in the new year, return to the work of crafting a tax cut from the Clinton rates the president insisted upon.
Then he too will be under pressure to bring relief, and both parties will author a tax cut rather than one party breaking its word.
The president promised the sequester to the Pentagon would not happen. On January 1 he becomes the pledge-breaker because he would not deal in good faith in the lame duck.
If you bail out the president and break your pledge, you are going to be trapped, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, in an endless cycle of true charges that you broke your word.
On August 18, 1988, then Vice President George H.W. Bush told the GOP Convention: “Read my lips. No new taxes.” He was elected in a walk.
In August of 1990, President Bush agreed to raise taxes, and the New York Post captured the reaction with a headline: “Read my lips…I lied.”
It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t nuanced.
It was politically devastating.
And it left a mark. The very same mark Plan B and the eventual “deal” will leave on you.
Or you could wait until the new year and the new Congress. Tell one and all that you’ll be back to negotiate a tax cut and serious spending reforms as the debt limit loom –when the president stops campaigning and starts governing. That last phrase is called messaging. It matters. Try it.
I had thought all along that the Speaker would set up this choice for the president, and that perhaps the president would yield to the good of the nation.
Until “Plan B” surfaced. Then it became obvious that neither the Speaker nor the Caucus understands what the people who voted for them and contributed to their campaigns believe. Once you vote for it, your pledge is undone, your word as good as dust.
Here’s the first question: After you vote for Plan B, what will you promise voters you’ll do next?
Here’s the second question: Why should they believe you?