Last fall, as members of Congress were home campaigning and America’s attention was focused on the contest between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, top aides to House Speaker John Boehner huddled to devise a winning strategy for the looming fiscal cliff.
Chief of Staff Mike Sommers, policy director Brett Loper, and communications chief Dave Schnittger gathered each week in H-128, the high-ceilinged “Board of Education” room, one floor beneath the House chamber, where the legendary Sam Rayburn had hosted his cronies for whiskey and gossip during his long reign as speaker. It was in that room that, in 1945, then-Vice President Harry Truman learned of Franklin Roosevelt’s death and felt, he said later, like “the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me.”
Boehner’s aides prepared two blueprints: a “Romney Wins” and an “Obama Wins” scenario. A Romney win – Plan R - would generate less pressure: The new Republican president would make his thinking known, and Boehner would follow his lead. But the calculus changed, fundamentally, if Obama won reelection and the Senate stayed in Democratic hands. Boehner would then be the nation’s leading Republican elected official. It would be up to him to counter the president, oppose huge tax hikes, and resolve the fiscal cliff. He would have to act boldly--and quickly.
NJ Reporter Nancy Cook joins Rod at 4:35pm to discuss this in-depth article
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