Boehner sounds like a man ready to make a deal, but he has an excruciating negotiating task in finding something that somehow passes muster with an invigorated second-term Democratic president, a reinforced Senate Democratic majority and a conservative House majority.

Boehner said he was prepared to raise new revenue for the government — but not increase tax rates — as long as the White House would agree to entitlement reform. Republicans were “ready to be led,” Boehner said, attempting to shift the burden for what comes next squarely onto Obama’s shoulders. …

Boehner thinks he has more room to maneuver with his own colleagues, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who aides excruciatingly note is on the same page as the No. 1. He has laid out his principles in public. In the summer of 2011, Boehner was negotiating with a president up for reelection, a House filled with red-hot firebrands and a leadership team dragged down by internal staff warfare. This time, his party has suffered an electoral beat down and Obama has run his last campaign.