Fiscal cliff: What would Mrs Lincoln say to John Boehner?

US President Barack Obama visits a toy maker in Hatfield, Pennsylvania 30 November 2012 Barack Obama has said he would not accept any deal that extends tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans

The Republicans' rather huffy letter to US President Barack Obama made me think of a glorious moment in Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln.

The letter, signed by House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, among others, says there has been a "status quo" election "in which both you and the Republican majority in the House were re-elected".

They are claiming that this means the American people expect both the victors of the recent election to "come together on a fair middle ground".

It is reasonable to assume the White House see things rather more like Mrs Lincoln.

Her moment occurs at a White House reception when the president's wife holds up a long reception line to give Thaddeus Stephens, a Republican leader in the House of Representatives, an almighty ear-bashing.

I cannot remember the exact words, but the gist of it is: "My husband is loved by the people, known to the people, he's just been re-elected, and you are nobody - now just back off."


Mr Obama is betting that most Americans will feel the re-election of the president carries more moral weight than the re-election of the House.

He has been on Twitter repeating his demand for tax rises for the rich, opposition to deep cuts in education budgets, and so on.

Everything he has done has been about political positioning, not serious negotiating.

That has further outraged the prickly Republicans, who write of their shock that when Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner went to see them he proposed a plan that was in their view "neither balanced nor realistic".

So, they have countered by backing a plan - already passed by the House - to cut healthcare for the future elderly and food stamps for the poor.

They demand a response and serious negotiation. Mr Obama, a more aggressive president than in his first term, is manoeuvring them where he wants them, by getting under their skin.

He is claiming the public label of the man who wants tax cuts for everybody, forcing them to champion deep spending cuts. This is not yet about doing a deal - it is about defining how a deal is seen, when it is done.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

Trident question comes to the surface

In 2016, the new government will have to decide whether to continue to invest in the Trident programme - and this could be a key issue in a hung Parliament, says the BBC's Mark Mardell.

Read full article

More on This Story

US Economy


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    Ton Load (190),

    “187 Congress role is to sign-off ... They don't do the work or decide the work to do”

    Even by your standards, that’s amusing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    ref #186

    I don't consider American Business a special interest groups or workers, labor unions a slpinter of thew work force is
    As far as the Palestinians there claim is less valid than the Kurds but we don't hear anyone demanding turkey to give up land
    The Palestinains claim is bogus as any historian would confirm, They are an invented people like the people of Atlantis

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    Read: No one want Hamas in control but the PA have legitimate case

    Palestine can choose Hamas or peace
    But they can't have both

    As long as Palestine supports Hamas
    there will be no peace
    b/c they are choosing Hamas over peace

    Read: They are an Occupied State now

    According to you

    According to me Israel owns itself

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    190.Ton Load
    "187 Congress role is to sign-off authorize and approve policy and work proposals like middle management"

    You really have no clue about how the US Government works, do you?

  • Comment number 190.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.


    “More people voted for DEM Congressmen (and Women) than voted For GOP.
    Your comment suggested otherwise and then you defended it.”

    If 20 of party A are elected with 10 votes each because they ran unopposed, and 1 of party B was elected with 1,000,001 votes to his opponent’s 1,000,000, who did the voters put in office, party A, or party B?

    That's how those elections work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    Pmk: However, just 24% have a favorable opinion of socialism

    Which is interesting Pmk makes this point
    as one of Obama's main mentors who he mentioned in his book
    Dreams From My Father- not Dreams Of My Father-
    was a man named Frank Marshall Davis

    He was on FBI watch list for his pro-Soviet Communism

    Even Lincoln was not a socialist

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    Ton Load (184),

    "... Their role in Congress is a minor two bit part, wide berth in world economy politics & possible damage"

    Add to your list of errors the notion that the House majority party "is a minor two bit part". Per the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 7, clause 1), appropriation bills must originate in the House of Representatives.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    180. MagicKirin
    ref #149

    Magic you are living in dream
    The DEMS have a terrible connection with Special interest Groups but it pales into insignificance in comparison to the GOP.
    As for Israel Most Europeans want a 2 state solution.
    No one want Hamas in control but the PA have legitimate case.
    They are an Occupied State now, In reality they always were.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    "the rub!"

    If today's gene-pool inadequate, then 'journey' to educability indeed daunting, perhaps soon to end itself

    But take heart: the trick will be, not to make of mere mortals unrecognisable gods, merely for 'teachers' to share 'ideas' no more complex than friendship, partnership, secure equality, 'proportionate' losses only in choice, laziness, criminality

    What the catalyst?

  • Comment number 184.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    179. centromere

    I am not actually proposing PR but you statement read That more people wanted GOP congressmen (women) than wanted DEM congressmen (and woman)
    The GOP in reality won, that is how it is.
    But they won more seats with fewer votes. More people voted for DEM Congressmen (and Women) than voted For GOP.
    Your comment suggested otherwise and then you defended it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    All for All (178),

    “… We have different experiences and argument-sets, but enough trust to address? …”

    I’m comfortable with argument, as are you. Some are not up to the challenge.

    “… Better general 'educational context' should unite?”

    Aye, there's the rub! What constitutes wisdom? If the wise disagree, how may mere mortals such as you and I unite on intractable issues?

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Ton Load (177),

    “… If people wanted Republicans they would have voted Romney …”

    If the voters had wanted a Republican PRESIDENT they would have voted Romney.

    You are mistaken.

    “… The people dissed Republicans …”

    Actually, rather than ‘dissing’ them, the voters elected a Majority Republican House. Again.

    You remain mistaken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    ref #149
    You are correct that the Republican lost but I want them to show the integrity which the Democrats lack and fight for the working people instead of special interests groups like the Dems do
    The majority is not always right, no beeter example than the U.N vote against Israel. The U.S and Canada were right thought they were outvoted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.


    “For sure, But the 2nd Sentence of your below quote is misleading.”
    (That’s what the people who vote wanted)

    Is it not true that the voters elected more Republicans than Democrats on November 6th?

    “No That is not what voters wanted.”

    After the votes were totaled, 234 Republicans received more votes than Democrats, and 201 Democrats received more votes than Republicans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    Chryses @175

    "real differences"?

    I wonder

    Not sure that, as 'last man standing', you would find it too 'really' painful to agree with all others on income equality

    Not sure you would deny the question 'should be put' to a free People capable of understanding it?

    We have different experiences and argument-sets, but enough trust to address?

    Better general 'educational context' should unite?

  • Comment number 177.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    It is an irony that today's Republicans are quick to call itself the party of Lincoln. But, today's Republicans would not have ended slavery. All the states now petitioning for succession are Republican controlled states.Moderates in the party are either abandoning the party or telling it to soften its extreme views. Democratic philosophy was once like today's Republicans, but the table has turned

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    All for All (170),

    “… Would I let you down? …”

    We have real differences of opinion about the optimal state of humans.

    “… No need to give it a foreign name or discredit in advance …”

    Not everyone agrees with Plato.

    “… Relative to UN Constitution, it would be advisory …”

    I prefer my U.S. advisory bodies to provide advice relative to the U.S. Constitution.


Page 1 of 10



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.