He’s been ridiculed by the media. Liberal spinners say he has lost control over the Tea Party. But in fact the Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a plan, stuck to it, and is likely to get much of what he wants.
In a remarkable press conference revealed that he had a deal with the White House on large debt reduction and $800 billion in additional revenue to be achieved through tax reform and enhanced enforcement. Boehner brought out his “Jell-O” analogy once again to describe the White House. He said bluntly, “It’s the president who walked away from his agreement and demanded more money at the last minute.”
Boehner is the composed “adult in the room” now. He, excuse the expression, called the president’s bluff — a viable deal with no tax hikes and Obama blinked (or sloshed in the other direction, to follow the Jell-O imagery).
All of this followed Obama’s appearance in which he angrily accused Boehner of walking away from the deal. (According to Boehner, Obama upped the revenue figure at the last moment.)
Boehner now has left the White House on the sidelines, has his troops in order and can craft a deal with the Senate. At this point, the Senate Democrats who have never put forth a plan of any type must be desperate for a deal. The ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), took the opportunity to twist the knife, putting out a statement that read in part: “The President has never put a single plan on paper that actually reduces spending, and he has no program that would substantially reduce the deficit. If he does, it’s a closely guarded secret. And if such a secret plan does exist it should be made public… The honest truth is that this president, and this Democrat-led Senate, will not agree to the level of spending cuts in a debt deal necessary to put our country on a sound path.”
In his letter to his House colleagues, Boehner made the case that he had stood up to the White House and now could craft a deal without violating the House’s principles:
The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have not been participants in the conversations I and Leader Cantor have had with the White House; nor have the Republican leaders of the Senate. But I believe there is a shared commitment on both sides of the aisle to producing legislation that will serve the best interests of our country in the days ahead — legislation that reflects the will of the American people, consistent with the principles of the Cut, Cap, & Balance Act that passed the House with bipartisan support this week.
The much maligned Majority Leader Rep Eric Cantor (R-Virg.) found vindication as the talks seem to be headed in precisely the same direction as he had suggested, prompting Obama to stalk out of a White House meeting. His spokesman told me, “Eric has been adamantly clear that raising taxes with millions of people out of work is the wrong policy, one that we would not consider, and one that couldn’t pass the House.”
A senior Republican Senate adviser said admiringly of Boehner, “I’m glad he stayed calm.” The White House now is left sputtering, fully aware that if the Senate and House reach a deal Obama will be in no position to veto it and send the country into default. All in all, a very good day for Boehner and the House Republicans.