Remember the famous scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones faces off against a guy who unsheathes a scimitar and wows the audience with his fancy swordsmanship--only to get shot in the chest by Indy? The swordsman—that’s House Speaker John Boehner right now on the Bush tax cuts. Whether it’s out of deference to the office, eagerness to have an interesting story to write about, or plain gullibility, every congressional reporter in town is now dutifully reporting on his negotiating strategy. But this fight is over. Boehner has brought a knife to a gunfight, only nobody seems to have told anyone in the conservative movement. To recap, the basic situation is this. Back when George W. Bush was in office, he wanted to cut taxes. And he wanted to disguise the cost of his tax cuts. So he had his allies on Capitol Hill write the legislation so that the tax cuts would automatically expire at the end of a 10-year window. That window closed at the end of 2010. But during the 2010 lame-duck session, Republicans were riding high on electoral victory and the Obama administration was concerned that tax hikes would hurt the economy. So they cut a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts two more years into the 2012 lame-duck session. It was a smart idea for everyone concerned. With the economy weak, there really was no case for a short-term tax increase, and this way the presidential election would resolve everything. If Obama lost, his GOP opponent would surely sign a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts. But if Obama won, then he’d block any extension. As you probably heard Tuesday night, Obama won. . . . The conceit here is the frankly bizarre idea that since Obama wants to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, he needs to engage in some kind of bargaining process. But this is silly. The Senate already passed a plan to extend the middle-class tax cuts. Now the choice before the House of Representatives is whether they want to vote to pass that plan before the new year or after the new year. Grover Norquist, the conservative Solon on taxes, appears to have made a metaphysical ruling that a vote for partial extension (before the new year) is a vote for higher taxes. That’s silly, but the dictates of holy writ are often a bit arbitrary. All Republicans need to do is wait until the Bush tax cuts have already expired. At that point, a vote for a tax cut that Obama will sign—i.e., the middle-class tax cuts only—would clearly be a vote to cut taxes rather than raise them. . . . There’s no political or substantive reason for Republicans to resist a post-new-year tax cut proposal. That means there’s no leverage on the GOP side and nothing for the parties to negotiate over. Republicans took a risk with the tax sunsets, and they lost. Boehner is bluffing, and it’s time for everyone to recognize that, take the next couple of months off, and pass the Obama middle-class tax cuts in January.