Is Boehner's grip on the caucus slipping?

Tax hikes, by any name, are a nonstarter for a party that forged its brand on the mantra of lower taxes and less government, and Boehner’s willingness to talk rates with President Barack Obama — particularly in the context of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) refusal to do so — raised eyebrows within his conference. The uproar among Republicans, on and off Capitol Hill, forced Boehner to back away from the “grand bargain,” setting up a testy White House meeting where little was accomplished Sunday night.

“It’s crazy to think the speaker was considering a trillion [dollars] in tax increases. After all, we’re the anti-tax party,” said one veteran Republican lawmaker close to leadership. “Cantor brought him, the economy and our party back from the abyss. Cantor is strengthened, clearly. And it’s another example of the speaker almost slipping beyond the will of the GOP conference.”…

They’ve long shared a frosty rapport, which extends to their top aides. And this episode serves to illustrate that Boehner has a No. 2 who is unafraid to go his own way on an extremely tricky issue. It wasn’t the first split in recent weeks. Boehner told House Republicans in a closed-door meeting last week that he was not going to provide details of the negotiations to the full conference. Cantor, for his part, wanted lawmakers to be kept apprised of the blow by blow of the discussions.