Green Room

Boehner forcing Obama to spend his political capital?

posted at 11:42 am on November 19, 2012 by

Wonder why John Boehner has taken an initially passive role in fiscal-cliff negotiations?  Read this smart take from my friend Salena Zito at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the strategy behind Boehner’s maneuver:

Boehner knows he has no political capital to expend right now, but Obama has plenty. The Ohio congressman has a demoralized party, spooked by its losses, and he knows the only reason Republicans still hold the House is because of a crazy little thing called gerrymandering.

Boehner would keep losing if he believed he had just won simply because he holds a House majority. So if he wants to lead, he has to step back and allow Obama to lose his lead.

That’s why a walk through the halls of Capitol Hill found a growing number of House members, in leadership and on the bench, as well as senators more than willing to back up the speaker on his call for the president to “bring it on” when it comes to offering up some substantial solutions.

One of those is Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

“Boehner is right,” he said in an interview with the Trib. “The president keeps reminding us he just won an election. It’s time for the president to start talking about what he has to offer and put something on the table.”

There is some risk in this strategy, too, as a success here on policy redounds to the benefit of the Democrats.  But that’s going to be true anyway as long as Democrats hold the White House and Senate, and a failure to achieve a solution would be easily blamed on obstructionist Republicans.  Salena’s analysis shows both the conundrum Boehner faces in this vise, and the long-game strategy that he’s taking to rebuild political capital — and not just his, but the GOP’s as well.

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Occam’s Razor tells me that anything Boehner does is not due to any “smart strategy” on his part.

Norwegian on November 19, 2012 at 11:46 AM

Boehner should announce that he’ll sign on to any tax increases the president wants – as long as the budget is balanced.

gwelf on November 19, 2012 at 11:53 AM

If this is true, good. Republicans shouldn’t be offering anything…let Obama submit what he wants and negotiate off of that.

changer1701 on November 19, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I don’t believe Boehner possesses enough guile for this to be his intent. It reminds me of the theorists who contended that Justice Roberts was “playing the long game” when he sold out our country and upheld Obamacare last summer.
Boehner is not a leader and is not up for the fight, and the potential blowback that comes from standing up to the opposition send him cowering into submission.

Right Mover on November 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Do nothing, John. Let the tax cuts expire. Let sequestration happen. Let the debt hit the ceiling. You can do all of this just by making sure your troops do nothing. You won’t have to stand for election over it for two years. And, as a bonus, at the end of the day the budget is balanced.

He who dares, wins.

JohnGalt23 on November 19, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Boehner doesn’t force anything, not even tears.

CurtZHP on November 19, 2012 at 12:09 PM

THANK YOU, Mr. Morrissey for probably the first piece of common sense I have seen in a while.

If the Boehner digs in his heels, the Republicans get to own the blame for what is ALREADY in the works to happen after the first of the year. Rightly or not, they will be blamed for it. We need to allow the Democrats to own 100% their idiocy. We actually do need to see what they propose.

And things aren’t all THAT bad politically for the Republicans. Two of the Senate seats we lost were due to stupid candidates, we could have won those. We could have easily had no net loss in the Senate. In the House, we lost 5 Republican districts in Illinois and 5 in California for a total of 10 but only lost a net 6 seats.

At the state level we gained governors and gained legislative bodies. Louisiana and Arkansas have both houses of their legislature controlled by Republicans for the first time since the end of Reconstruction. When we take legislative and governors seats we are actually building a strong and deep bench of Republican candidates for national elections in the future and depriving Democrats of the same.

Overall we got out of 2012 in far greater shape than we got out of 2008. We are in pretty good shape headed into 2014 if we simply allow the Democrats to own the mess they are creating. The sad side of that strategy is that so many families are going to have to suffer for that but there really isn’t much we can do holding only the House and having ever fewer seats in the Senate. But we have been in worse shape. In 2006 and 2008 we were in bad shape at state and federal levels.

crosspatch on November 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Boehner forcing Obama to spend his political capital?

Meh. Obama will just print some more.

forest on November 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM

I still maintain the Republicans have to put out a plan. We know what the Democrats are going to do, wait until just before the Christmas recess, put out a 1500 page bill to solve the problem and tell the Republicans to vote for it or they’ll call them obstructionists.

If the Republicans put out a bill first and then tell Reid and company the only way they will deal with this is through the reconciliation process, where different bills go to a conference committee and they resolve the differences, that would put the onus on the Democrats to do this right.

So you think Boehner is playing this smart, I think he’s playing right into their hands. The Democrats have been doing this for 2 years and he falls for it every time, why wouldn’t they do it again?

bflat879 on November 19, 2012 at 1:00 PM

On the Bill….
Mr Boner….Present
Mr ______…Present
Mr ______…Present
etc.
Let it burn.

dirtengineer on November 19, 2012 at 1:06 PM

I don’t believe Boehner possesses enough guile for this to be his intent. It reminds me of the theorists who contended that Justice Roberts was “playing the long game” when he sold out our country and upheld Obamacare last summer.
Boehner is not a leader and is not up for the fight, and the potential blowback that comes from standing up to the opposition send him cowering into submission.

Right Mover on November 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM

I agree. I’d have more confidence in the analysis in the article if there was any evidence Boehner was prepared to fight Obama on anything. He was unwilling to fight in 2010 when Republicans had the upper hand after the Tea Party wave, and he is certainly not willing to fight now. This is just excuse-making. I’m basically expecting more “theater” battles for the consumption of gullible “moderates,” followed by the Republicans caving and giving Obama everything he wants, much as the last two years went.

Doomberg on November 19, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Gonna disagree with the assertion that Republicans only won the House because of Gerrymandering. Gerrymandering isn’t new, and has never offered much protection against a poor national election.

The reason the GOP has held onto the House is because House elections aren’t national elections, or even state wide elections. Democrats tend to get the bulk of their strength from really densely populated urban populations, since these aren’t don’t actually take up much land mass they don’t account for all that many congressional districts. This gives Republicans a built in advantage in house races, our base covers a much wider geographical range.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Nice idea, but Boehner isn’t play a deep game of three dimensional chess here. He’s folding like a beginner’s origami kit.

ElectricPhase on November 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

What political capital? Obama is coming from a victory where he recieved million upon millions of LESS votes than he did in 2008. The speaker should instead remember the almost 60 million people that voted for his party not Obama’s party. He has the speakership and he needs to lead.

unseen on November 19, 2012 at 1:39 PM

He’s folding like a beginner’s origami kit.

ElectricPhase on November 19, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Nah. He’s folding like a cheap whore. Boehner isn’t even worth a consistent metaphor.

The Rogue Tomato on November 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

Boehner forcing Obama to spend his political capital?

Sure. And, I am going to win the next big PowerBall jackpot.

bw222 on November 19, 2012 at 1:41 PM

This gives Republicans a built in advantage in house races, our base covers a much wider geographical range.

WolvenOne on November 19, 2012 at 1:33 PM

I say the voters voted for the mandate of gridlock. when in doubt gridlock is the only strategy that is a safe bet for voters. the GOP offered nothing new and the voters don’t want Obama to have free reign over the economy so they voted to give both parties limited power in DC. Thus gridlock. I’ll take gridlock any day of the year over one party rule in DC. Gridlock means nothing gets done in DC and my freedoms and money are save for the day.

unseen on November 19, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Boehner ‘forcing’? Stop right there.

PersonFromPorlock on November 19, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Overall we got out of 2012 in far greater shape than we got out of 2008.
crosspatch on November 19, 2012 at 12:29 PM

Hell, Germany came out of WWII better than the GOP in 2008.

I bet you believe it was the Republican Party (rather than the Tea Party) that was responsible for the 2010 victory.

bw222 on November 19, 2012 at 1:52 PM

Fools from both sides, greedy bastids and nothing else, ruin the land.

The free but stupid land deserves them all, in full.

May the populace suffer incredibly for its idiocy.

There are hardly any true men/menschen left.

Schadenfreude on November 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I still like Burma, rather than Myanamar.
Whats up with that ?

FlaMurph on November 19, 2012 at 2:46 PM

Schadenfreude on November 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Very good comment.. :cool:

Dire Straits on November 19, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Clearly the smart thing to do is to piss of the base of the party because that worked s well in 2012. If Boehner plays this just right the republican party splinters in two, delivering permanent democrat one party rule.

jukin3 on November 19, 2012 at 2:56 PM

The Democrats are in charge. It’s their turn to lead. The people voted on that.

They did was leave the House veto power over ideas of the too stupid variety.

I was told Obamba has a plan, bring it on.

FineasFinn on November 19, 2012 at 3:31 PM

I agree, it’s HIGH (no pun intended) time Obama is forced
to actually put something forward that gets attention (unlike his zero vote budget that came and went).

I have never understood how he gets away without putting anything forward. Oh wait, the press doesn’t talk about it.

Jocelyn on November 19, 2012 at 3:34 PM

This seems simple to me. Might be just me… but here goes:

1. Boehner does nothing. Obama says to America, well, the do-nothing Congress isn’t doing anything, so by Executive Order, I decree…

2. Boehner does something. Obama says to America, well, the Republican Congress is withholding the progress America needs, so by Executive Order, I decree…

What Boehner does is irrelevant.

beatcanvas on November 19, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Zito’s not much of a friend, Ed. Gerrymandering? She should look at Massachusetts, Barney Frank’s old district looked like an octopus, w/one extra long skinny tentacle through conservative districts to dilute the conservative vote, down into extra blue sanctuary cities New Bedford and Fall River.

Ceolas on November 19, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Boehner, the GOP, congress. All irrelevant. Obama will do as he wishes, and the grimy thieving savages who make up 51% of this God-Damned “nation” will wildly support him because they are ignorant morons with hearts hardened by the Lord.

Kakalak Pundit on November 19, 2012 at 5:51 PM