As the political tug-of-war wears on in Washington over a deal on reducing the deficit as part of a compromise to raise the debt limit, some conservatives are beginning to fret about the possibility of the GOP "caving" (there's a plethora of definitions of what "caving" would be). And, today the media's attention is focused on differences – perceived or genuine – within the GOP Leadership.
Over the weekend, Speaker Boehner had a conversation with President Obama that ended with Boehner rejecting Obama's recommendation because it contained a trillion dollar tax increase. The fact that Boehner even accepted the President's invitation to talk raised some eyebrows. Majority Leader Eric Cantor and others have consistently said raising taxes is a non-starter in the GOP controlled House, and Boehner has again confirmed that position.
Politico.com asked me to reply to the following questions in the wake of the weekend's events:
"Did Boehner have a choice but to exclude tax hikes? And does the weekend episode demonstrate that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) is the real center of power among rank-and-file House Republicans, who have the votes to block most any deal?"
Here is my answer that can also be seen here:
The 87 Republican House freshmen didn't get elected to raise taxes. They were sent to Washington to rein in government growth and over spending. They know it; so do the 153 other Republicans in the House, and the voters who sent them there haven't forgotten. Boehner and Cantor are principled leaders who also know what they can and cannot get passed by their majority and what the American people are expecting.
It's only normal to speculate about what Boehner and the GOP will or will not finally get done, and to obsess about perceived or genuine differences. However, I'm grateful that they are the ones in charge. The real difference we should remember is the political dynamic that exists now on Capitol Hill as opposed to two years ago.
The final deal the GOP House puts forward likely won't satisfy everybody's definition of perfect, but it will be dramatically better than had Nancy Pelosi still been the Speaker. If the Democrats still had the majority cutting spending and shrinking government wouldn't even be on the table. The only discussion going on would be about raising taxes – which ones, and by how much.
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