That stink you smell is John Boehner sweating like a longshoreman as Obama sits back and watches the speaker fall all over himself in a desperate effort to reach a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Boehner has conceded to Obama on taxes, entitlement reform - and now the debt ceiling.
House Speaker John A. Boehner has offered to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year, a concession that would deprive Republicans of leverage in the budget battle but is breathing new life into stalled talks over the year-end "fiscal cliff."
The offer came Friday, according to people in both parties familiar with the talks, as part of the latest effort by Boehner (R-Ohio) to strike a deal with President Obama to replace more than $500 billion in painful deficit-reduction measures set to take effect in January.
With the national debt already bumping up against a $16.4 trillion cap set last year, Congress risks a government default unless it acts to raise the debt ceiling in the next few months. Some Republicans had argued that party leaders should use the threat of default to demand additional spending cuts from Obama.
Boehner's offer signals that he expects a big deal with sufficient savings to meet his demand that any debt limit increase be paired dollar for dollar with spending cuts. That would permit him to keep a key vow to his party - and head off a potentially nasty debt-limit fight - at least until the end of next year.
"Our position has not changed," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Sunday. "Any debt limit increase would require cuts and reforms of a greater amount."
The White House rejected Boehner's offer, saying it would raise too little cash to significantly dent record budget deficits and do nothing to extend emergency unemployment benefits into the new year, according to a Democrat familiar with the talks. But the offer was viewed as a breakthrough, the Democrat said.
The offer also includes a proposal to raise tax rates for millionaires, generating as much as $460 billion over the next decade - about half what Obama has demanded from the wealthy, according to official estimates.
These blatant and nauseating cave ins to Obama should cost Boehner his speakership. But they won't. Boehner is under pressure from many members to strike any kind of deal in order to avoid the perception that the onus for failure to reach a deal would fall on the GOP.
All of those positions that were set in stone on taxes, entitlements, and the debt ceiling proved to actually be set in pudding. Obama will probably let Boehner continue to grovel and at the last minute, deign to "negotiate" a deal that he wanted all along.
It really doesn't get much worse than this for Republicans.