Inside the Cliff Deal: Mistrust, Proposals on Fire, F-Bombs

Negotiations were even more prickly behind the scenes

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 2, 2013 7:54 AM CST

(Newser) – If you thought fiscal cliff negotiations were testy when Harry Reid took to the Senate floor to accuse John Boehner of running a dictatorship, well, the reality was closer to a hybrid of rioting kindergartners and the showdown at the OK Corral. The lowlight came last Friday, reports Politico in a new fly-on-the-wall breakdown of the negotiations, when Boehner stopped Reid outside the Oval Office, just before a much-hyped negotiating session, and said, "Go fuck yourself." When Reid stammered, "What are you talking about?" Boehner repeated the insult. Other special moments in legislating:

  • When Reid saw the first offer Obama intended to pitch to Mitch McConnell on Sunday, he was so angry that he crumpled it up and threw it into the fire in his office fireplace.
  • White House officials were "furious" and "mystified" by Boehner's "Plan B" move. Boehner later confided to Obama that his secret plan was to pass the bill in the House with the $1 million tax threshold, and let the Senate knock it down to $500,000. A perplexed Obama asked if he'd shared the plan with Reid or Nancy Pelosi. He hadn't.
  • In an early negotiating meeting, McConnell lashed out at Reid over filibuster reform, an off-topic outburst that "stunned others in the room."
  • In one negotiating session, Obama urged Republicans to forge a deal, even though liberal economists like Paul Krugman would say, "I've been fleeced again."
  • The GOP thought the White House was negotiating in bad faith. "The president says good things to Boehner, and then Nabors and Geithner always follow it up with something absurd," one senior House GOP aide said. "It's excruciating."
  • Throughout the talks, Senate Republicans grew increasingly worried that House conservatives would ruin everything. The mistrust worked both ways; some House Republicans say they trust Obama and Co. more than McConnell, because at least they know where the Democrats stand.
  • When McConnell insisted Joe Biden get involved in negotiations, some Democrats privately snickered that he was "calling his dad for help."
Head to Politico for more.

John Boehner passes waiting reporters as he leaves a closed-door GOP meeting on the fiscal cliff bill passed by the Senate Monday night, Jan. 1, 2013.
John Boehner passes waiting reporters as he leaves a closed-door GOP meeting on the "fiscal cliff" bill passed by the Senate Monday night, Jan. 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
This Nov. 16, 2012 file photo shows Harry Reid and John Boehner, who aren't exactly chummy.
This Nov. 16, 2012 file photo shows Harry Reid and John Boehner, who aren't exactly chummy.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)
John Boehner and Cathy McMorris Rodgers arrive at the House of Representatives for the final vote on emergency legislation to avoid a national fiscal cliff, Jan. 1, 2013.
John Boehner and Cathy McMorris Rodgers arrive at the House of Representatives for the final vote on emergency legislation to avoid a national "fiscal cliff," Jan. 1, 2013.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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