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GOP members bowing to outside groups weaken Boehner, irk Americans

Published: Sat, December 22, 2012 @ 5:53 p.m.


John Boehner is a bloodied House speaker following the startling setback that his own fractious Republican troops dealt him in their "fiscal cliff" struggle against President Barack Obama.

There's plenty of internal grumbling about the Ohio Republican, especially among conservatives, and lots of buzzing about whether his leadership post is in jeopardy. But it's uncertain whether any other House Republican has the broad appeal to seize the job from Boehner or whether his embarrassing inability to pass his own bill preventing tax increases on everyone but millionaires is enough to topple him.

"No one will be challenging John Boehner as speaker," predicted John Feehery, a consultant and former aide to House GOP leaders. "No one else can right now do the job of bringing everyone together" and unifying House Republicans.

The morning after he yanked the tax-cutting bill from the House floor to prevent certain defeat, Boehner told reporters he wasn't worried about losing his job when the new Congress convenes Jan. 3.

"They weren't taking that out on me," he said Friday of rank-and-file GOP lawmakers, who despite pleading from Boehner and his lieutenants were shy of providing the 217 votes needed for passage. "They were dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of raising taxes."

That "somebody" was a number of outside conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Heritage Action for America, which openly pressured lawmakers to reject Boehner's bill. Such organizations often oppose GOP lawmakers they consider too moderate and have been headaches for Boehner in the past.

This time, his retreat on the tax measure was an unmistakable blow to the clout of the 22-year House veteran known for an amiable style, a willingness to make deals and a perpetual tan.

Congressional leaders amass power partly by their ability to command votes, especially in showdowns. His failure to do so Thursday stands to weaken his muscle with Obama and among House Republicans.

"It's very hard for him to negotiate now," said Sarah Binder, a George Washington University political scientist, adding that it's premature to judge if Boehner's hold on the speakership is in peril. "No one can trust him because it's very hard for him to produce votes."

She said the loss weakens his ability to summon support in the future because "you know the last time he came to you like this, others didn't step in line."

Boehner, 63, faces unvarnished hostility from some conservatives.

"We clearly can't have a speaker operate well outside" what Republicans want to do, said freshman Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan.

Huelskamp is one of four GOP lawmakers who lost prized committee assignments following previous clashes with party leaders. That punishment was an anomaly for Boehner, who is known more for friendly persuasion than arm-twisting.

He said Boehner's job would depend on whether the speaker is "willing to sit and listen to Republicans first, or march off" and negotiate with Obama.

Conservative Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, said one of the tea party's lasting impacts would be if Boehner struggled to retain his speakership due to the fight over the fiscal cliff, which is the combination of deep tax increases and spending cuts that start in early January without a bipartisan deal to avert them.

"If there's a major defeat delivered here, it could make it tough on him," King said. "He's in a tough spot."

Defenders say Boehner has been dealt a difficult hand. They say that in nearly two years as speaker, he's been field general over an unruly GOP majority confronting a Democratic president and Senate, steering them to the best outcomes possible.

House Republicans won some spending cuts early on. But they were faulted by the public for nearly causing a federal default in a 2011 fight over extending the government's debt limit, and lost a later battle over renewing a payroll tax cut.

This year, they've suffered in the polls for resisting the extension of wide-ranging tax cuts unless the wealthiest earners were included, which Obama opposes. They saw their House majority whittled by eight seats in last month's elections.

"He's doing a good job in a tough situation," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a Boehner friend. He said the speaker's challenges include "independent individuals" among House Republicans and the increased willingness of outside conservatives to pressure GOP leaders, not defer to them.

Portman said he didn't know if Boehner's tax bill debacle would weaken him.

"It proved to the president what he's been saying, that there are limits to how far he can go" in making concessions in fiscal cliff bargaining, said Portman. "But a win would have improved chances for an agreement" by demonstrating that Boehner could deliver votes.

"His own Republican team let him down and that always hurts a leader," said veteran Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga.


1redeye1(5609 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

I hope the members who turned their backs on Mr. Boehner don't get any thing that they really want. They should be thrown out of the party too.

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2timOthy(802 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

A Cry baby loser would not get my respect. It's out of control. They had 3 years to come up with a plan. But No the Teabaggers will not compromise at all.AND WHAT WE DON'T SEE OR HEAR IS CONGRESS TAKING CUTS IN PAY AND BENFITS !! SORT LIKE COMMUNISM NO !! America is on it's way to hell. If it's there ? Sort like CONGRESS AND ALL IT'S LIES .

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3Archie1(15 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

It's about time Republicans wake up and smell the roses. We need to go back to the Clinton era tax rates. Our country was in the best condition ever. Unfortunately W took over, started 2 wars, lowered taxes, ate up a huge surplus and created the largest deficit in history.The "only care about themselves Republicans" made big money during this time, placing the entire country on a flaming fiscal spiral. Thank goodness people saw fit to put President Obama in office to clean up the mess. Remember, it took Clinton 8 years to clean house from the first Bush who served only 1 term. Who knows how long it will take to clean house from this last one. We can only hope that more House Republicans see the light and oust this Speaker and select a much more effective one. Oh, and by the way, let's bring back the Brady Bill that was carelessly discarded during the great W time. Only then will we be able to get these needless automatic weapons off the street and stop this crazy violence.

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4georgejeanie(1486 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Oh yea,
dodd and Frank had nothing to do with the Great Recession. Making the banks loan money to individual s that had no business getting to buy a house with no money down. The Republicans warned them we were going to burst the housing bubble by giving people with no down payment the ability to buy a house.

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576Ytown(1339 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

So let me put this into prospective. The president and the democrats want the republicans to put forth a plan to solve this massive deficit and debt problem. The president does not have a budget...has not had one since he took office. Obama's budget was unanimously defeated by dems and reps in 2012. He has yet to pass a budget. http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepav... He wants to "Tax the rich! Tax the rich!" as the solution. Does not want to cut spending...wants a higher debt ceiling. Our president has added 6 trillion dollars to the deficit. The numbers are staggering.

All this double talk about the fiscal cliff and the Bush tax cuts. Oh no...higher taxes if we don't do something about it, at the same time, screaming "Tax the Rich! Tax the Rich!" They used to refer to it as the "Bush tax cuts for the RICH", not they conveniently call it the "Bush tax cuts for the MIDDLE CLASS". I want to ask you, did you notice the big difference in your paycheck when the tax cuts took effect? No.

We borrow $4 million every minute. For every $1 we bring in, we spend $2.06. Every household in America owes $140,000 toward our national debt. A trillion dollars is 100 million millions. http://www.usdebtclock.org/

Our house is on FIRE people! We are all going to have to pay. The out of control spending at the government level has to stop!

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6sam_carter(121 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

76. Are you ok with the republican insistance to cut social security and medicare? Thats what they mean when they insist on cutting "entitlements".
Cutting "entitlements", meaning cutting social security and medicare, is all the republicans will bring to the table.
Cutting social security, and not one penny on defense.

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7IslandMike(764 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Dodd-Frank had NOTHING to do with the US going into the Great Recession. It didn't pass until 2010.

Republican Phil Gramm was chairman of Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs between '99 -02. During that time he decided to fix what wasn't broken and came up with the BRILLIANT idea to deregulate the banking laws. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in 1999, which removed Depression-era laws separating banking, insurance and brokerage activities (essentially repealling the Glass- Steagall Act).

During eight years of Republican rule no reform was adopted regarding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, NONE! So, you can blame Barney Frank all you want, and it IS fairl to argue he tried to protect Fannie and Fredie from oversight and regulation, but he didn't have the power to do it by himself.

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876Ytown(1339 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Everyone here has internet access. One, two or three clicks gets you to a whole lot more info than what is filtered to us by the media.

I do believe that social security and medicare need to be changed for upcoming generations. I want to stress upcoming because at this time there are many who depend on it for survival, but without change it has already been agreed that it will go broke in 33 years leaving zip-zero for folks retiring in 20 years...or anyone else for that matter.

Here are 3 sites that you might start with to educate yourself on reasons why we can't continue as we have. I purposely chose government websites.

1st, starting with ssa history: http://www.ssa.gov/history/hfaq.html (shows the number of people living to age 65 in 1937) and http://www.ssa.gov/pressoffice/pr/tru... (shows it will be exhausted 3 years sooner than projected just last year - 2033).

2nd, the national debt: http://www.usdebtclock.org/ Shows our ss liability per taxpayer of $1,061,390 (that's million in case you didn't notice).

3rd, the rate employee & employer pay into social security 10.4% of our earnings to ss & 2.9% into medicare (employer & employee shared). http://ssa-custhelp.ssa.gov/app/answe... Recent tax cuts reduced and extended the amount of ss & medicare taxes from our pay from 6.2% to 4.2% (8.4% ee & empl total) http://www.irs.gov/uac/Payroll-Tax-Cu...

Compare that to what you would have it you invested that yourself to be used at retirement or passed on to your heirs would be a much better deal. Consider the fact that in the mid 80's we introduced 401k's as a pre-tax option for retirement savings, add the 10.4% of the forced ss taxes we already pay. Before you say it, we would still need the government as a safety net for some people who did not pay into the system and find themselves disabled or in need. Private vs forced ssa deductions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLTfOA...

Get back to me when you've looked at the facts. Happy browsing! : )

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9sam_carter(121 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Young fella, the sky was falling, (soc sec out of money in thirty years), back when Ronald Reagan was president. As Alan Simpson is famously quoted as saying, I was there.
Spend a few clicks and browse how the crisis was handled then.
Hint: He raised taxes....

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10sam_carter(121 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Strolling down memory lane...
I wonder if georgej remembers the Savings and Loan crisis and bailout.
A few clicks, some browsing, and you will read about the Keating 5, (McCain was one of them).
Browse some more to see how Neal Bush, W's brother, profited handsomely with the Silverado Savings and Loan...

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11Archie1(15 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Republicans will continue to attempt blame on someone else. It is so sad to see so many followers who have been brainwashed by their conservative heros. The time has come for ALL Republicans to open their eyes. Your party is sinking fast! The TEA BAG people or what ever they call themselves are a complete joke. Lets get real folks and bring back the best President our country has ever seen. We need the Clintons back in the White house. I would be happy with either Bill or Hilliary. The are both worthy and what we need to get back to reality and prosparity.

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12IslandMike(764 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

The Tea Baggers aren't that far off base, their problem is they have goals (small government and less taxes) with NO PLAN to get there. I've heard Palin talk about smaller government and less taxes as the face of the Tea Party for the past four years. Not once have I heard her mention what to cut, how much to cut and how long to cut it.

Between the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh and FIXED NOISE NETWORK, a party I once respected and agreed with in many of their conservative principles has turned into a visionless, hate and fear based party that has no clear leadership, panders to shrinking base. (See: George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Cheney Romney and Palin.) The repubs keep losing elections and blaming the opponent, it's time to look internally!! Obama didn't alienate the Latino voters (largest and still fastest growing minority) from the republicans. There has to be more to the message than LOWER TAXES.

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13IslandMike(764 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago


What does the right want to do? Extend tax cuts and have the middle class pay to balance the deficit? They killed the middle class under Bush. I do agree that Obama has to come forward with some major spending cuts, but only after the repubs agree to end the Bush era tax cuts for those making over $250k a year. That is what Obama ran on and what the PEOPLE elected him to do.

As for ObamaCare, your party did NOTHING to reform healthcare in eight years under Dubya. Repubs preached we needed HC reform and they did what Bush did throughout his eight year presidency. NOTHING. Well, you did oversee the biggest intelligence failure in US history (9-11) and invade Iraq (where are those weapons of mass destruction?) and kill a bunch of our troops while burying the US in debt.

As for you saying Obama has done nothing, I don't think Bin Laden thought he did NOTHING when he saw the SEALS kicking down his door.

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14timOthy(802 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Again PEOPLE NONE OF YOU ADDRESS THESE worthless people wages and benefits ! WHY ?? Unless you think they have YOUR AGENDAS.

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