The offer made yesterday by House Republicans to the White House to avoid the fiscal cliff got all the headlines, but there were two reasons why it wasn’t the most important fiscal cliff-related story of the day.
First, it wasn’t really a serious offer. In spite of the fact that the letter to the White House says the House GOP wasn’t going to respond in kind to what it considered a totally unlikely-to-ever-be-acceptable opening offer from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner last week, that’s exactly what it did. That made it easy for the White House to quickly dismiss it and leave the fiscal cliff negotiations where the were when the day began: not started.
Second, earlier in the day, the House Republican caucus announced that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had punished several GOP representatives with tea party connections for not loyally supporting the leadership the past few years by removing them from their committee assignments. This clearly was an attempt by Boehner to consolidate his power, discipline tea party members, and make it more likely that whenever he negotiates a fiscal cliff deal (January still seems more likely than December), it will be more likely to pass the House. That should strengthen his standing with the White House and put him in a better position to negotiate.