New Jersey governor Chris Christie has never been one to mince words—he became a conservative heartthrob during his first gubernatorial campaign thanks to a string of anti-union screeds that made the rounds on YouTube. But on Wednesday, Christie took aim at his fellow Republicans for their failure to pass a relief bill for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. “There is only one group to blame for the continued suffering of these innocent victims: the House majority and their Speaker John Boehner,” Christie said during a press conference today. Boehner had promised to introduce the bill following the fiscal-cliff impasse but adjourned the House Tuesday night without offering a vote. Christie took this as a betrayal, claiming that he called the House speaker four times last night to no avail.
Despite Christie's 2016 aspirations, his lashing out at the national GOP isn't surprising. At the moment, he's more concerned with winning re-election later this year in his traditionally blue state; he's ditched his deep-seated conservatism in an effort to craft a bipartisan image, praising the president in the days following Hurricane Sandy. Yet Christie's remarks against Boehner were particularly caustic and personal; the New Jersey governor paired his attack on Boehner with praise for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who called Christie before Boehner tabled the bill and just so happens to be Boehner's main rival for control of the House GOP. Boehner faces a test of his leadership tomorrow, when the new Congress convenes and kicks off the session by voting on the House speaker. Just 17 Republican defections could cost Boehner the majority he needs to keep his spot as speaker. Christie's indictment of Boehner could provide the extra push Cantor needs to peel away enough votes to unseat Boehner tomorrow.
So They Say
"Go fuck yourself."
—House Speaker John Boehner to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid during the heated final stages of the fiscal-cliff negotiations.
Daily Meme: Fiscal-Cliff Award Season
- We fell over the fiscal cliff, if for only a few hours until Congress finally passed a deal in the wee New Year's hours. Now that the agony is over, let's look back at the hell that was December 2012 on Capitol Hill and hand out the end-of-season awards to our hearty representatives.
- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gets the "best pitcher" trophy for his well-calibrated toss of the White House's chock-full-of-concessions proposal straight into his fireplace.
- Best relief pitcher goes to Joe Biden for stepping in to finish the game when Reid and John Boehner failed, patching together the final deal with Mitch McConnell.
- Perhaps the biggest winners of the fiscal cliff? Rich people.
- Another big winner? The legislative process! It might have taken an inordinate amount of time, but no one is too happy with the final deal, which means the legislation was a near-perfect compromise.
- Wait, scratch that. Let's give the best actor trophy to the legislative process. Although a final compromise was passed, it was "the result of a jerry-rigged burlesque of the legislative process that was devised a year ago because the House had been rendered dysfunctional by a claque of feral children. This whole puppet show likely will be replayed—with even more spectacular special effects!—in March when we deal with Fiscal Cliff 2: Sequester Boogaloo."
- The lifetime achievement award goes to George W. Bush—most of the temporary tax cuts bearing his name have now been made permanent.
- Best New Year's Eve Party goes to the Senate, which stayed up late to send its final offer to the House, and was accused of being drunk by Representative Steve LaTourette.
- Best sequel goes to John Boehner, who is the latest of a long line of politicians to sprinkle the hallowed halls of the White House with salty language.
- Best cliff hanger goes to the cliff itself, which hasn't been averted, just postponed for two more months, at which time the debt-ceiling and sequester negotiations will be dealt with at the last possible moment, leaving high stress and angst in its wake.
- Or as Dylan Matthews puts it, "the fiscal cliff was 'averted' the way that Jay-Z 'retired' in 2003. It wasn’t, and it’ll come back shortly, and the comeback will be pretty bad." Hooray!
What We're Writing
- Robert Kuttner on the neverending cliffs and legislative drama facing our government.
- Mike Konczal asks, Will government continue to support the still fragile housing market this year?
What We're Reading
- We've heard endless screeds on the politicking, but ... what's actually in the fiscal-cliff deal?
- In which Jonathan Chait compares the fiscal cliff to The Big Lebowski.
- The long, sordid tale of the "miniature Canadian Cold War"—i.e., the great maple syrup heist of 2012.
- Alec MacGillis on the man who could have saved organized labor.
- Adam Davidson peers into the economy's future.
- Rebecca Solnit calls 2013 "year zero" for the climate.
- Why Republican nihilism messes up our democratic system.
Poll of the Day
The fiscal cliff has been averted! But alas, the public isn't hopeful that 2013 is going to be a rosy year. A new USA Today/Gallup poll released Wednesday finds that just 33 percent think 2013 is going to be a "year of economic prosperity."