So, the White House sent this along:
Readout of the President’s Call with Speaker Boehner
Speaker Boehner called the President this morning and the President reiterated to the Speaker that the only viable option currently on the table is for the House of Representatives to pass the bipartisan Senate compromise that received the support of nearly 90 percent of the Senate. The President told Speaker Boehner that he is committed to begin working immediately on a full-year agreement once the House passes the bipartisan Senate compromise that prevents a tax hike on 160 million Americans on January 1.
Apparently, Boehner didn’t get the message because he and his lieutenants went in front of the teevee cameras and reiterated that he isn’t backing down.
“We need people to sit down and work with,” Boehner said. “We’re not going to sit here and negotiate with ourselves.”
That earned a swift rebuke from Senate Dems, who echoed the president’s message:
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, rejected any plan aside from the extension that the Senate passed on Saturday with an 89-10 vote.
“That’s it,” Durbin said of the Senate bill on MSNBC. “It’s the only option.”
Seeing that no lifeline was forthcoming from the Democrats, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offered Boehner an anvil.
In a blow to House Republicans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has called on the House to pass a two-month payroll tax extension — while pushing Democrats to negotiate a full year extension of the tax break.
McConnell’s statement came just 30 minutes after Speaker John Boehner pledged that he and House Republicans weren’t backing down from their push for a one year extension of the tax, which expires Dec. 31.
McConnell also made some other suggestions, but they are largely irrelevant. The bottom line is that he sandbagged Boehner. Of course, that’s only fair since Boehner sandbagged McConnell by failing to insist that his conference pass the bill McConnell had negotiated. By undercutting Boehner’s stance, he further isolated the House Republicans.
Boehner doesn’t want to sit around and negotiate with his own members, but the White House was clear about this. During yesterday’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney was repeatedly asked how the president could help Speaker Boehner save face. He offered nothing, but instead insisted that Boehner simply offer a vote on the Senate bill.
Q Might that not spark a revolt within his own caucus?
MR. CARNEY: The President has an enormous amount of responsibilities. Every President does. He cannot be responsible for the internal politics of the other party in one house of Congress. He is simply focused on doing what is best for the American people, and working with Republicans, as well as Democrats, to achieve what’s best for the American people. And that’s what the bipartisan compromise reached in the Senate represents. Ninety percent of the United States Senate on a substantive issue, an important issue like this, is quite an accomplishment. Senators McConnell and Reid deserve a lot of credit for the work they did on achieving the two-month extension and on the progress they made towards a full-year extension. And so the House should act on that.
It doesn’t happen that often when we have this kind of bipartisan consensus on an important issue. We should act on it.
In other words, the White House doesn’t give a shit about Speaker Boehner’s problems and is perfectly content to let him twist in the wind. If that means that the payroll tax holiday doesn’t get done before it expires, they don’t seem to mind.