The meeting between President Obama and congressional leaders on the fiscsal cliff went well, and you can tell not by the nice statements released afterward, but by House Speaker John Boehner's face. In the post-meeting press conference Friday, Boehner looked much more relaxed than he did in the summer of 2011, when House Republicans couldn't come to an agreement with Obama over raising the debt limit. Back then, Boehner didn't look like someone had killed his dog, but like someone had ordered him to kill his own dog. Today? There was hope in his eyes.
Why the better mood? Because there are things, and they are on the table. All of the things, but especially the most prized thing, "revenue." In the 2011 debt limit negotiations, some things weren't on the table, things Obama really wanted, like ending the Bush tax cuts for people who make a lot of money. Obama wanted that thing on the table so bad he put a bunch of other things on the table he didn't want on there, and Boehner still said no deal. But on Friday, all four Democratic and Republican leaders did a joint press conference together, and Boehner announced, "To show our seriousness we put revenue on the table as long as it's accompanied by significant espending cuts." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed, saying, "We are prepared to put revenue on the table provided we fix the real problem." That's even though "Most of my members I think without exeption believe that we're in the dilemma we're in not because we taxed too little but because we spent too much," McConnell said.
The Democrats, for their part, said they were open to spending cuts. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "We have the cornerstones of being able to figure something out." (On CNBC, Sen. Kent Conrad suggested a compromise could include cutting tax deductions for high-income Americans and raising the capital gains tax.) House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said a deal had to be reached for the good of the country. "We understand our responsibility there," Pelosi said. "We understand that it has to be about cuts. It has to be about revenue. It has to be about growth."