Boehner’s inability to get his own Republican conference to line up behind him not only increases doubts about him remaining speaker in the new Congress; it also raises a more immediate question for President Obama: Who in the House can he negotiate with in the effort to avoid the large automatic tax increases and spending cuts that will occur in less than two weeks without an agreement? …

Boehner could turn to House Democratic leader Pelosi and agree on a proposal that could pass the House with Democratic votes and get through the Senate. But that obviously wouldn’t help him with his hard-liners in his effort to remain speaker. …

It might seem to make little sense for the president to reopen negotiations with Boehner at this point, since the speaker couldn’t even wangle enough Republican votes for his own proposal. If Obama and Boehner do resume talks, it might be with the understanding that whatever Boehner takes back to Congress may ultimately have more Democratic than Republican support. And that opens a range of issues for Boehner.