A new report notes that under the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner, Republicans in the body “avoided being held responsible for an across-the-board tax increase” and “gave up substantially less revenue than Obama demanded” in the fight over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
The so-called cliff was avoided with a holiday vote by the U.S. House to approve a plan that raises more than $600 billion in new taxes, cuts an insignificant $15 billion from spending and allows huge new budget increases to develop under Barack Obama’s spending.
The bill also allowed virtually every working family in America to face higher taxes – with the expiration of a Social Security tax holiday – but didn’t rise to the trillion-dollar-plus tax hike that Obama originally advocated.
Boehner, however, isn’t getting credit for much, if anything, of the strategy by Republicans facing a Democratic White House and a Democratic Senate.
As of this afternoon, participants in an unscientific poll on the Drudge Report were rejecting Boehner as a future speaker of the House by a more than 6-1 margin.
There were 269,001 votes against him and 40,516 in favor, an 85 percent to 15 percent margin.
Drudge posted the headline “Your Turn! … John Boehner for Speaker of the House?”
Speculation about Boehner’s future as speaker grew when the second-ranking Republican in the House, Eric Cantor, openly opposed Boehner’s vote for the fiscal cliff deal.
The U.K.’s Guardian reported that conservatives in the House already were chafing under Boehner’s leadership. Last month, four “independent-minded fiscal conservations” – Justin Amash of Michigan, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, Walter Jones of North Carolina and David Schweikert of Arizona – were purged from their preferred committee assignments for opposing party leadership.
Though denied in public, the report said the word was that “scorecards” were used to rid the leadership of those who didn’t toe the line closely enough. Then came the move by conservatives to defeat Boehner’s alternative “Plan B” bill to address the fiscal cliff.
Meanwhile, according to the report, “Cantor had tried to establish himself as the right flank of the debt ceiling negotiations in the summer of 2011, famously irritating the president. But many conservatives regarded this as ambition talking more than principle. When the majority leader said out loud what most Republicans were thinking about the fiscal cliff bill, however, there was admiration.
“Could Cantor make a move? The conditions are there, but an exhausted Republican caucus may ultimately flinch from a change at such an uncertain time. And if Cantor doesn’t run, it’s hard to see anyone else mustering the votes to oust Boehner,” the report said.
The GOP lost much of its leverage when Obama was chosen for a second term, because it had been hoping to lead a surge of spending cuts as a new GOP president was installed.
“It hasn’t been pretty and it hasn’t yielded significant conservative reforms, but Boehner has averted government shutdowns, a default, and the fiscal cliff under seemingly impossible odds. House Republicans live to fight another day, possibly as soon as the next debt ceiling extension. All that has to count for something,” the Guardian opined.