Monday, July 11, 2011
Politico Arena Topic: Should Speaker Boehner Watch His Back?
I think John Boehner truly wants to get a big deal done—the $4 trillion grand bargain—which could calm the financial markets and go a long way toward paying down America’s debt. He said as much last week. Boehner must of figured that as Speaker of the House, he was the leader of his party in the House. That’s clearly not the case. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, his second in command, is the guy in charge. After throwing Boehner under the bus by pulling out of the debt ceiling talks a couple weeks ago, Cantor is leading the charge for a smaller deal that would include zero compromise on the revenue side—no tax increases on the wealthy, no closing of tax loopholes, nothing with the word “tax” in it unless it is followed by the word “cut”. The Cantor-led GOP will agree to nothing unless they get all of what they want. At a White House meeting yesterday, Cantor did most of the talking—indicative of his new found clout.
The White House knows the GOP position is unreasonable and will exploit it. President Obama will take to the bully pulpit and Democratic surrogates will hit the airwaves and hammer the Republicans for protecting the wealthy at the expense of the middle and working classes. Democrats have already agreed to make painful cuts in popular entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. What pain are Republicans willing to dole out to their benefactors? If Cantor and his crowd get their way: none. Fear of Tea Party primary challenges and Grover Norquist overwhelm any ability of most in the GOP caucus to strike a reasonable deal. Boehner was right to seek the Grand Bargain—it would have been good for the country and his party. Unfortunately, he way overestimated his own ability to deliver.
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