- Created on 03 December 2012
She asked for just six words.
Michele Norris, the National Public Radio host, was starting a book tour for her memoir, which explored racial secrets. Sensing a change in the atmosphere after the election of the first black president, and searching for a new way to engage and listen, Norris printed 200 postcards asking people to express their thoughts on race in six words.
The first cards that trickled into her mailbox were from Norris' friends and acquaintances. Then they started coming from strangers, from people who had not heard Norris speak, from other continents. The tour stopped; the cards did not:
"You know my race. NOT ME!"
"Chinese or American? Does it matter."
"Oh, she's just another white girl."
"Waiting for race not to matter."
Such declarations brought the Race Card Project to life.
"I thought I knew a lot about race," says Norris, 51, an award-winning black journalist. "I realized how little I know through this project."
Two years later, the cards have become almost a parallel career for Norris, best known for her work on NPR's "All Things Considered." She and an assistant have catalogued more than 12,000 submissions on http://www.theracecardproject.com . People now send them via Facebook and Twitter or type them directly into the website, leading to vibrant online discussions.
Many cannot resist accompanying their Race Cards with explanations, stories and personal experiences. Norris, in turn, feels compelled to contact them, listen to their stories, and archive this new conversation about race.
The discussion is inseparable from this moment, when the page of America's racial history is in mid-turn. Part of Norris' inspiration came from a series of NPR interviews on race during Barack Obama's ascent. His reelection has reenergized Norris' multiracial community of six-word poets:
"Black babies cost less to adopt."
"Never a Nazi, just a German."
"Money on counter, not in hand."
"You are dirt, so I scrubbed."
Eric Liu, an author and educator, heard about the Race Card Project from a friend. He calls it "brilliantly powerful" due to the strict brevity: "It forces this profundity that you wouldn't get if you let people go on for two hours."
"It uses this format on the front end to unlock all of this expression and imagination," Liu said, "and on the back end, once it's out in the world, it forces people to see each other with new eyes."
That's what happened one Sunday when Celeste Brown, a graduate student from Florida, noticed the Race Card Project on Twitter and typed "We aren't all 'Strong Black Women'" into her computer.
A fire was lit. Women and men of all ethnicities gathered at keyboards from Los Angeles to Ireland. Comments flew: Isn't Strong Black Woman a compliment? No, it's strong like oxen - less than human. It doesn't matter how we treat them because they will survive. Time to stop putting up walls and be vulnerable. I feel like I'm forced to be strong. It makes a woman sound like a weed, not a flower.
In an interview, Brown said that her statement unconsciously distilled ideas and experiences she had previously shared only with close friends, like the tension between being independent and needing a man, or the question of how black women can build careers without being stereotyped as too aggressive.
"I wrote the first thing that came to mind," Brown said.
For Norris, such exchanges fulfill her goal of making it easier for people to talk about race. As a professional interviewer, she often sees racial questions lead people into "the pretzel twist" - arms folded, legs crossed, shoulders hunched. But with the Race Card Project, people express things unlikely to be spoken into an NPR microphone:
"Marry white to dilute the black."
"I married a black man anyway."
"When did your family come here?"
"Disagree with blacks? Automatic racist. Pathetic!!!"
Norris knows about reticence from her own family. In her memoir, "The Grace of Silence," Norris describes a secret her doting father never told her: He was shot in 1946 by a white police officer in his native Birmingham, Ala.
Her mother hid something, too: Norris' beloved grandmother traveled from town to town in the 1940s and '50s dressed as Aunt Jemima to sell pancake mix, a custom that many now consider a degrading mammy stereotype.
By confronting her family's secrets, Norris has inspired others to reveal their own.
Like the businessman in Los Angeles' Koreatown who told Norris that he abhors Asian gangs, but secretly roots for them because they present an image of Asian manhood he doesn't see anywhere else.
Or the elderly white woman who, along with her childhood friends, used to throw rocks at black sharecropper children walking by her home in Louisiana. She recalls the chill she got when one black girl was hit by a rock and turned to look her dead in the eye, a look that made her recognize her transgression. The woman asked her father what she should do. He told her, using the n-word, that she couldn't hurt black people because "they have thicker skin."
Or the story of Arlene Lee, who posted: "Birthday present; you are black, sorta?"
On the night before Lee's 50th birthday, she was going through the papers of her late mother, an immigrant from Peru. Lee found her mother's real birth certificate, plus a fake one she had used to enter the United States in 1958. On the fake document, Lee's mother had changed her race from black to white.
"My mother raised me to be white and I am, at least by self identification I guess," Lee wrote on the Race Card Project website.
"It breaks my heart that we never had a chance to talk about it, that she didn't feel she could trust her only child to understand and that she didn't feel she could ever come out of hiding," Lee wrote.
"And now, I have a new prism through which to see things."
So does Norris. "These six words are just the beginning of fascinating stories," she says. "It's the most interesting and rewarding work I've ever done as a journalist."
Race Card submissions increased after the recent election. So did requests to use the project in schools or institutions, and more people than ever are including additional comments.
A book is begging to be written. Norris is talking with several institutions that are interested in permanently housing and maintaining the project. She will need assistance when she ends a leave from NPR that began last year, when her husband took a role with the Obama campaign.
So many threads lead to Obama. It's clear, Norris says, that he opened the door for this conversation. But few people mention the president by name in their six words. He is mentioned far more in additional comments, and almost always in Norris' follow-up interviews.
"It appears that his ascendance has made people think not just of his story and his place in history, but also their own," she says.
And what about Norris' own place? What are her six words?
When the project began, her words were personal, born of her experience as a black Minnesota girl with a slight speech impediment who was advised against pursuing a four-year college degree. "Fooled them all, not done yet" used to fit well.
But now, after what the nation has experienced these past few years, and the gratitude she feels toward thousands of people who shared their stories with her, Norris is reminded of a quote from the legendary dancer Alvin Ailey: "The dance comes from the people and must always be given back to the people."
So today, her six words are:
"Still more work to be done."
- Created on 30 November 2012
(AP) — Before purchasing a shirt, shoppers will run their hands over the fabric, look at the price tag and wonder how it will hold up in the washing machine. Some might even ask if it makes them look fat.
The one detail, however, that is rarely considered: What are the conditions like for the workers making the shirt?
A horrific fire that raced through a Bangladesh garment factory Saturday, killing 112 people, has put the spotlight — at least temporarily — back on those workers and their sometimes treacherous work environment.
The factory, owned by Tazreen Fashions Ltd., made clothing for several retailers around the globe including Wal-Mart, Sears and The Walt Disney Co. All three companies have distanced themselves from responsibility for the incident, saying they didn't know that their subcontractors were using the factory.
Holiday shoppers have also maintained their distance from the tragedy.
"Truthfully, I hadn't even thought about it," said Megan Miller of Philadelphia as she walked out of the Disney Store in Times Square. "I had Christmas on my mind and getting my kids something from New York."
Shoppers from Cincinnati to Paris to Singapore all said the same thing: They were aware of the fatal factory fire, but they weren't thinking about it while browsing stores in the days since. Brand name, fit and — above all — prices were on their minds.
"Either our pockets get lighter or we have to live with more blood on our hands," said Amy Hong, a college student who was at a store in Singapore. "I try not to think about it."
Experts who survey shoppers say the out of sight, out of mind attitude is nothing new.
"When you talk to them about their biggest concerns, where something is made, or the abuses in some country, almost never show up," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, which interviews 10,000 to 15,000 consumers a week, mostly on behalf of retailers. "The numbers are so small, I quit asking the question."
Convenience is much more important to shoppers.
Take Tammy Johnson who was at a Walmart in Bloomington, Minn. this week. She lives nearby and appreciates that the store has a large grocery section in addition to clothing and other goods.
"It's easier and it's cheaper," she said of her decision to shop there. "I hate that, but it is true."
Even those who want to make socially responsible purchases a priority have little information available to work with.
There's no widespread system in place to say where all the materials in a shirt come from let alone whether it was made in a sweatshop or not.
A label saying "Made in USA of imported fabrics" doesn't provide as much information to shoppers as they might think. Maybe tailors assembled it under good working conditions, but what about the people who wove the fabrics? Another label saying that a shirt is made from 100 percent organic cotton fails to say anything about the conditions of the factory in which it was made.
"What do they know at the point of sale about where it comes from, other than the tag?" said Paco Underhill, founder of Envirosell, which studies consumer behavior. "Our hearts are generally are in the right places. It's the question of making sure we have the knowledge and pocketbook to follow."
And it's not just clothing. It is hard to tell where televisions or laptop components are made.
Companies selling products say they even struggle to tell. Work is often given to subcontractors who themselves use subcontractors. While many major companies stipulate ethics and standards that their subcontractors must follow, policing them is a costly, time-consuming process that sounds easier than it is.
In the case of the Bangladesh factory, Wal-Mart said it had received a safety audit showing the factory was "high-risk" and had decided months before the blaze to stop doing business with Tazreen. But it said a supplier had continued to use Tazreen without authorization.
In recent years, consumers have become much more aware about the food they eat, and where it comes from.
Supermarkets are full of eggs laid by free-range chickens, organically-grown apples and beef from grass-fed, hormone-free cows. Some upscale restaurants now name the farm that provided them with pork chops. And customers pay a premium for these foods.
The difference: They perceive a direct benefit, since the food is going into their bodies.
Ethical choices when buying clothing — or the latest version of Apple's iPhone — are much more blurred.
Jean MacLeod, who was shopping at a Walmart on the south side of Indianapolis, is willing to pay more for goods if they are made in an ethically responsible manner and does it all the time when she buys food.
Walmart wants the best prices for its customers, she said, but the company also has power as a buyer to make sure factories have decent working conditions.
"They should be able to say, 'Look it, we don't want to buy from you unless you do things a little more our way,'" MacLeod said. "If they don't want to buy from them, then that means that factory will go out of business."
Arguments have been made that producing items with cheap labor isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Factories in the Third World can provide jobs with wages well above a region's average. They can help lift families out of severe poverty. The catch is that there are fewer safeguards to protect workers from being exploited from unscrupulous employers.
At the Bangladesh factory, locked exits prevented many workers from escaping after fire broke out.
It draws eerie parallels to New York's Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911, where 146 people died within 18 minutes of a fire starting in a factory with locked exits.
That fire was the catalyst for widespread changes in labor laws in U.S. But in the 100 years since, the desire for cheap clothing hasn't abated and costly labor has just shifted to factories overseas.
"To put it maybe too frankly, profit and efficiency and competition always trump safety and health," said James A. Gross, a labor relations professor at Cornell University.
Not every company sees things that way.
Los Angeles-based American Apparel promotes itself as a line of "sweatshop free" clothing. Its founder and CEO, Dov Charney, said that companies can control working conditions — they just need to bring production closer to home. American Apparel knits, dyes, cuts and sews all of its products in-house.
"When the company knows the face of its worker, that's important," Charney said. "You can control working conditions and quality."
Yes, American Apparel spends more on labor, but it isn't as much as you would expect. Charney estimates that an imported T-shirt selling for $6 at Walmart would cost about $6.30 if produced domestically thanks to the company's massive scale.
"The consumer can care. They can buy from companies that are committed to fair trade and try to seek out those companies," he said.
In the mid-1990s, the sneaker giant came under pressure to change its ways after numerous reports of child labor, low wages and poor working conditions. Eventually wages climbed, minimum age requirements were put in place and Nike increased monitoring at its factories.
But such change only comes after persistent public pressure.
"Clothes makers will always do what they want, but the buyer should educate himself," said Paris shopper Pierre Lefebvre.
Not all buyers have that luxury. Family budgets are tight.
"Especially with this economy, we like our money to go as far as it can," said Lesley Schuldt, who left a Cincinnati Macy's this week with five shopping bags worth of jewelry, cookware and gifts. "I have no idea where half the stuff I bought was made, but I imagine it was not in the U.S."
Associated Press reporters Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati, Josh Freed in Bloomington, Minn., Tom Murphy in Indianapolis, Meghan Barr in New York, Heather Tan in Singapore and Thomas Adamson in Paris contributed to this report.
- Created on 27 November 2012
It was a bold experiment. An Oak Park couple set out to buy everyday necessities —from groceries, gas, clothes to household items — from black-owned businesses for an entire year.
The Empowerment Experiment, co-founded by John and Maggie Anderson, was an eye-opener and a challenge for the couple who sought to trigger a discussion on black capitalism but instead found themselves in the midst of controversy.
Three years after their 2009 experiment began, Maggie Anderson has penned a book chronicling their experience in Our Black Year. Anderson wanted the book to be more than just a summary of their effort. She wanted to open a dialogue about self-help economics and conscious consumerism so blacks can leverage their own buying power, worth an estimated $1 trillion.
"What we did is a yearlong experiment to study and expose some problems so that we ... can talk about and do something about fixing those problems," said Anderson, speaking at a Sunday book signing at the Oak Park Public Library, 834 Lake St.
She noted that too often people ignore the elephant in the room — that America's economy is "racially divided and functions in a way that hurts black neighborhoods the most." She explained that every ethnic group can set up shop in black neighborhoods, prosper off black dollars but do little to provide jobs.
"America has not lived up to its ideals until the black community plays a better role in this economy," Anderson said. "We can't just be consumers and workers. We are owners. We are patriotic, hard-working, taxpaying Americans, and we are worthy of support."
But support must work both ways. For black businesses to survive, blacks must spend their dollars there. Black Americans have $1 trillion in purchasing power but less than 6 percent of those dollars stay in black communities.
That divestment, Anderson said, leads to poor schools, high crime and explains why quality black-owned businesses generally don't exist in black neighborhoods. Many businesses the Andersons patronized throughout their experiment are now closed, including a black grocer, two shoe stores, a winery and a children's apparel store.
Maggie Anderson contends many bourgeois black Americans who've made it out and into affluent suburbs are reluctant "to fight for real equality in our economy." Black people's lack of support for each other angers her even more than the one-sided way corporations take advantage of black dollars.
"We came together to fight for black people's civil and political rights. Is it taboo to come together to fight for economic rights?" she asked.
Anderson candidly pointed to integration as a factor in the demise of black economic empowerment. Black consumers began to spend their money outside their community, she explained, causing support for black businesses to wane when segregation was lifted.
In the 1930s, she noted grocery stores were the largest category of black enterprise. During that time, black-owned grocery stores totaled 6,400. The number now has dwindled to eight, compared to 28 Hispanic grocery store chains.
"I don't know how we are going to come together to recreate the homespun economic empowerment black people used to have when we were legally segregated," she said. "But now we are a legally integrated society where poor black folks are still segregated but their money isn't."
The Andersons' endeavor was not without controversy. While their experiment grabbed media attention, with it came a torrent of criticism. Comments labeled the couple racist and they even received death threats.
Anderson insisted the effort to support black business is nothing new. It's a concept already in practice by Jewish, Latino and Asian consumers. Where is the reciprocity? Anderson wonders.
"Every other ethnic group does exactly what I am trying to get more black people to do — practice self-help economics — but they are not racist," she said. "Why is it not racist for Jewish, Chinese and Greeks to support their own? Why is it just communal pride then, but racism when black people try to do it?"
More troubling than the backlash was the lack of support from prominent black figures like Oprah Winfrey, BET founder Bob Johnson or Al Sharpton. She hoped they would challenge more blacks to embrace this idea of self-help economics. Anderson called that revelation "disheartening." The couple, at one point, pondered abandoning the experiment.
"This experiment was the best shot that this community has had to really get this message out there," said Anderson who along with her husband has formed a foundation to promote this cause.
The foundation's goal is to promote conscious consumerism, track supplier diversity in corporate America and promote strategic entrepreneurism. The latter goal is to urge diversity among services black businesses offer.
The book offers advice for those wanting to support black capitalism. Anderson suggests buying gift cards from black-owned franchises or patronizing businesses like a black-owned dry cleaners or black-owned car washes regularly. Also chambers of commerce are another source to find and support black businesses. She doesn't evangelize "buy black only." Instead, she encourages more people to make the effort.
"I tell people to make small sacrifices so black businesses can be supported too. I tell people to support black businesses a little more because 2 to 6 percent is not enough," Anderson explained.
Oak Park resident Trina Wade described herself as a conscious consumer. But learning of the Anderson's experiment "sparked an energy" in her to make an active choice to patronize black businesses even if prices are higher than at white retailers. She contends blacks would patronize their own more, but may not know where to start.
"I know it is important to us, but the thing is the word is not out there enough," Wade said.
- Created on 28 November 2012
Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress with a poignant note of acceptance after a personal journey that took a heartbreaking turn.
"For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service," Jackson wrote in a letter delivered on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday. "However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most of the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible."
Jackson pulled few punches. The congressman, who has been receiving inpatient treatment for bipolar disorder, acknowledged not just the health challenges he has faced but a deeply embarrassing federal investigation into the misdirection of campaign funds. "I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes," he wrote, "for they are my mistakes and mine alone."
In an era when so many political figures refuse to take any responsibility for their actions, it is notable that Jackson chose to exit with an acknowledgement of his own fallibility.
Yes, mistakes were made and there is no point in trying to diminish them. It is appropriate to recognize that Jackson's reputation has been tarnished, and that he faces a long struggle to resolve the personal and legal troubles that have derailed his congressional career. But as someone who covered Jackson throughout his seventeen years in the House, I also recognize that focusing merely on the missteps that have ended his career obscures the full story of this man and his service.
Through the vast majority of his time in Washington, Jesse Jackson Jr. was an accomplished and valuable member of the House—a progressive representative, yes, but more than that. He was an all-too-rare congressional champion who went beyond the call of duty in struggles for peace and economic and social justice.
From the moment the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson was elected to the House in a 1995 special election, he began compiling one of the most independent and reform-oriented records in the chamber. Jackson clashed not just with the economic royalists on the right but with Democrats who chose to compromise with the forces of reaction, militarism and austerity. This consistency cost him politically; it was tougher for him to raise money and to attain the powerful positions that are apportioned to those who compromise with the unconscionable.
Jackson voted against authorizing President Bush to attack Iraq. But he did more than that. He signed on for the lawsuit, filed by constitutional lawyer John Bonifaz, which argued that Bush could not take the country to war without a full declaration from Congress. As the full extent of the wrongdoing that led the United States into that unjustified war was revealed, Jackson demanded accountability for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. "Our democratic system is grounded in the principle of checks and balances," he said." When the Executive Branch disregards the will of the people, our lawmakers must not be silent."
Jackson voted against the Patriot Act. But he did more than that. He joined then-Congressman Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, to promote legislation to exempt libraries and bookstores from having to comply with unwarranted federal demands for the reading lists of citizens.
Jackson condemned the US Supreme Court intervention in the case of Bush v. Gore, which shut down the Florida recount and handed the presidency to George Bush. But he did more than that. One year after the 2000 election, when most Democrats were frightened to say anything negative about Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Jackson stood in front of the Supreme Court to challenge the legitimacy of the decision that made Bush president and to say, "The disputes in Florida and other states showed us that we need one national standard for voting and one national standard for counting votes. But they also reminded us that there are more basic reforms that are needed.... Even though the right to vote is the supreme right in a democracy, the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore told Americans there is no explicit fundamental right to suffrage in the Constitution." And he proposed to amend the Constitution to establish that right, along with a right to have every vote counted in a verifiable manner.
Jackson condemned George W. Bush's free-trade agenda. But he did more than that. He opposed free-trade deals promoted by former President Clinton and by President Obama. He even broke with leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus in 1998 to oppose the African Growth and Opportunity Act. AGOA, as that deal was known, was dubbed "NAFTA for Africa" by the business press. Jackson refused to accept the spin from Wall Street and its political echo chamber. He took the counsel of South African President Nelson Mandela and Africa trade unionists who decried the act as a move to make it even easier for multinational corporations to exploit the continent's workers and resources. Jackson decried the proposal as the "Africa Re-colonization Act," and argued during the House debate on the issue that, "The AGOA extends short-lived trade 'benefits' for the nations of sub-Sahara Africa. In exchange for these crumbs from globalization's table, the African nations must pay a huge price: adherence to economic policies that serve the interests of foreign creditors, multinational corporations and financial speculators at the expense of the majority of Africans."
The congressman asked, "Whose interests will the AGOA advance? Look at the coalition promoting it—a corporate who's who of oil giants, banking and insurance interests, as well as apparel firms seeking one more place to locate their low-paying sweatshops. Some of these corporations are already infamous in Africa for their disregard for the environment and human rights."
Even as he wrestled with the ailments that would end his House career, Jackson remained the bold and visionary champion he had always been on essential economic issues. While most other Democrats were practicing election-year caution last spring, he was pushing the debate in the direction it needed to head.
Dubbed the "Catching Up To 1968 Act of 2012," Jackson's last major initiative was a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10 per hour. "That may sound like a hefty wage increase, but it doesn't fully equal the purchasing power of the minimum wage in 1968—which today would be closer to $11 per hour," the congressman explained when he introduce the measure in June. "This bill is really only allowing American workers a degree of 'catch-up.' Thus the name and theme around the bill: 'Catching Up To 1968.'"
Jesse Jackson Jr. served his constituents and his conscience through seventeen of the most demanding years in the history of the US House of Representatives. He cast more courageous votes and stood on principle more consistently than the vast majority of his colleagues. His career has ended on a sad note for Jackson, and for those who respected him. But it would be sadder still if we were to neglect the long arc of his service to the republic, a service that bent toward economic and social justice.
- Created on 26 November 2012
(CNNMoney) -- Pete Davis is president of Davis Capital Investment Ideas. He worked for Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, serving as an economist for the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Senate Budget Committee.
Despite what the optimists say, it's too early to count on a fiscal cliff deal.
Senior staffers have been trying to set the broad outlines of a compromise -- dollar amounts of revenue increases and spending cuts.
They're working up options for President Obama and congressional leaders to consider when they meet for their first substantive talks.
In my experience, the first thing that happens in such a meeting, after opening statements and procedural matters, is they reject all of the options the staff prepared.
Then they start arguing among themselves. After an hour or two, they tire of that and walk out on camera and tell the world they made progress.
Their staff then goes back and works all night on new options, and they meet again, and again, and again.
Here's my short list of why the fiscal cliff won't get resolved easily.
1. President Obama insists on a tax rate increase on those earning $250,000 or more, and House Republicans balk.
2. President Obama and Democrats refuse to accept revenue increases that won't be scored by the Congressional Budget Office -- i.e. that depend upon tax reform and/or upon an assumed increase in economic growth.
3. Republicans won't accept another extension of the temporary 2% payroll tax cut for working Americans. So President Obama may insist on a Making Work Pay tax credit much like the one from the 2009 stimulus package. That credit was worth up to $400 for single workers earning less than $95,000 and up to $800 for married couples making less than $190,000.
4. House Republicans insist on entitlement cuts that Senate Democrats won't accept. Senate Democrats see Social Security as completely off the table, and Medicare cuts will be difficult to achieve because most of the easier ones were used to pay for health care reform.
5. Everyone wants to repeal the $109 billion sequester of defense and nondefense spending, but Republicans may object if it's not "paid for."
6. Democrats want bigger defense cuts than Republicans will accept.
7. Discretionary spending can be shaved a bit more, but not much more without incurring Democratic opposition.
8. Republicans may refuse to accept a debt ceiling increase that is not "paid for." A one-year hike would cost about $1.2 trillion. There's no way they could pay for that.
I'm not ruling out a deal before Christmas, particularly one that combines a very modest "down payment" with procedures to deliver tax and entitlement reform. I've always said I see about a 40% chance of such a deal by December 24.
The problem for the market will be to gauge how much deficit reduction will ultimately be delivered. I expect to be underwhelmed.
This all comes down to how insistent President Obama will be on raising taxes on the rich and whether he will accept a deal without a rate increase.
All of the president's statements so far have upped the ante on a tax rate increase on those earning $250,000 or more. Sure, he has caved many times before on a wide range of issues, but will he do so following an election victory and when he never has to run again?
One big final impediment will remain after a deal is announced. The House may not pass it.
In July 2011, House Speaker John Boehner thought he had agreed to a deal with Obama that his colleagues would support, but House Republicans rejected it because it included revenue increases.
Boehner was put in the embarrassing position of having to return to the bargaining table and ended up cutting a smaller, kick-the-can-down-the-road deal, that resulted in the creation of the so-called Super Committee, which failed, and the $109 billion sequester that no one wants. I'm sure he'll be a lot more careful this time around to whip his support before finally signing off on a deal.
Of course, anything the House Republican Caucus will pass is unlikely to attract more than a handful of Democratic votes, even if Obama supports it. Boehner will not get united House Republican support for any deal. He may need Democratic votes to pass it, and Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to supply them.
I still see a 60% chance that we temporarily go over the fiscal cliff. After Obama and congressional leaders exhaust themselves by trying to reach agreement but failing, they may decide to risk the fiscal cliff for a short time rather than accept a bad deal.