WASHINGTON – The handwriting is on the wall.
House Speaker John Boehner, who has twice capitulated to raising the debt limit under Barack Obama’s presidency is not only about to do it again, this time he has raised the white flag of surrender before the bargaining has even begun, say members of his own caucus.
It’s not just House Republicans and conservative pundits who see it. Even Obama’s closest advisers see a clear field to dictating the terms of continued borrowing and spending for the next four years.
David Axelrod, the architect of Obama’s re-election effort, said Boehner has given “encouraging” signs that House Republicans, whose approval of any spending plan and any hike in the debt limit, is required, are ready to work with the White House.
Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee agreed: “There is a basis for a deal,” he told Fox News.
Less than 24 hours after the election, Boehner held a conference call with House Republicans, telling them it is time to compromise with Democrats and avoid the contentious fights of the last two years.
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia said Sunday he doesn’t agree with Boehner’s cave on Obamacare, in which he called it the “law of the land.”
“We’re not opposed to the president’s health care law because of this election, we’re opposed because it’s bad policy and it’s bad for patients all across this land,” he told Politico.
As for the fiscal cliff, Boehner and Obama have both suggested an agreement could involve cutting tax breaks, many of which favor the wealthy.
But that’s not sitting well with many House Republicans.
”What we’ve seen in the past is the speaker goes, negotiates with the president, and just before we vote, he tells us what the deal is and attempts to persuade us to vote for it,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-La. ”We’re just not very happy with deals being baked, then we’re asked to stay with the team and support the speaker.”
When Boehner appeared at the Capitol the day after the vote, he offered a conciliatory message and put higher taxes back on the table.
“Mr. President, this is your moment,” he said. “We’re ready to be led, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. … We want you to succeed. Let’s challenge ourselves to find the common ground that has eluded us. We’re willing to accept new revenue under the right conditions.”
“The American people have spoken,” Boehner said somberly, his eyes glistening. “If there’s a mandate in yesterday’s results, it’s a mandate for us to find a way to work together.”
“His rhetoric has been encouraging and I think we’ve also had an intervening election,” said Axelrod on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”
But it’s not just on fiscal matters Boehner is softening.
He also signaled his willingness – even eagerness – “for comprehensive immigration reform” – which includes a pathway to legalization for the undocumented.
“This issue has been around far too long,” Boehner said in an interview Thursday with ABC News’ “World News.” ”A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.”