First, Boehner failed the counting test. Before Christmas, the speaker sought to rally his fractious House behind a “Plan B” to raise taxes only for people making more than $1 million per year. They didn’t. Boehner pulled the bill and backed out of negotiations. Then, Washington’s top two Democrats — Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) — proved unwieldy negotiators. Reid seemed to have trouble coming up with a fast counteroffer to a proposal from McConnell. Obama, fresh off reelection, was defiant in public and in private. Even on Monday, as a deal seemed to be drawing closer, Obama gave a televised speech in which he noted that Republicans had already caved on their key demand never to raise tax rates.
To some Republicans, that seemed like a premature and unseemly celebration.
“This is so disappointing. Why wouldn’t the president be sitting down with people working out this agreement instead of having a Republican-bashing event?” asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).