Is This About Boehner Being Speaker?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is John Boehner.  On January 3, 2013, he might be reelected by his Republican majority, or he might not.  If not, Boehner will be just Representative Boehner, a smoker, a golf enthusiast, and a fan of tanning salons.

The alleged positions of President Obama and Speaker Boehner are so close even a first grader could find the middle and reach a compromise.  For some reason, these two can not.

Obama and Boehner are two men who also know the consequences, at least short term, of reaching no agreement by year end.  The general public will be mad and the stock markets will be furious.  Beyond the fiscal cliff issue, failure will signal two more years of total gridlock in Congress.  Public opinion on the value of government (not its services) will be in the toilet.

Here’s one take.

Suppose Speaker Boehner and the President announce an agreement.  Let’s say it is taxes up for those earning $500,000 or more, increase in dividends and capital gains taxes, and changes to Medicare and Social Security plus some other miscellaneous cuts.  The deal is about $2 trillion over 10 years.

The House votes on these measures and Speaker Boehner cannot deliver enough Republican votes for the measure to pass.  Come January 3rd, it will likely be Speaker Cantor.

From Boehner’s eyes, ending his Speakership for $2 trillion (roughly $200 billion a year) when we are sporting $1 trillion a year deficits might not seem a good bet.  Narrowly viewed, he is probably correct.  Viewed more broadly, the fiscal cliff is a surrogate for Americans believing their government can be effective.  Even a small step is important.

The 7/24 talking heads have told us repeatedly that we are watching Kabuki theater.  The ending is already known and what we are watching is the dancing that leads up to it.  I am beginning to think that is not the case.

Agreement by year end is a goal which can cement John Boehner’s legacy.  If he agrees to a compromise and gets it passed in the House, Boehner will clearly be seen as an effective leader.  If the compromise fails in the House, Boehner will be seen as a courageous leader who deserved better.

 

 

 

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