I would not want to be in Speaker Boehner's shoes for the next few months.
Quickly pivoting the political conversation from President Obama's reelection to Washington's looming budget battles, House Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday offered a potential path to compromise, saying Republicans are "willing to accept new revenue" to tame the soaring national debt and avert an ugly battle over the approaching "fiscal cliff."
With Obama's decisive electoral victory and Republicans' hold on the House, with a slightly smaller majority, Boehner (R-Ohio) said Tuesday's election amounted to a plea from voters for the parties to lay down their weapons of the past two years and "do what's best for our country."
"That is the will of the people. And we answer to them," Boehner said at an afternoon news conference at the Capitol. "For purposes of forging a bipartisan agreement that begins to solve the problem, we're willing to accept new revenue, under the right conditions."
In phone calls made overnight and this morning from Chicago, Obama said much the same thing to Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). He said he believed that the American people sent a message that leaders in both parties need to put aside their partisan interests and work with common purpose to put the interests of the American people and the American economy first.
While Boehner suggested that Republicans would still oppose Obama's plan to take "a larger share of what the American people earn through higher tax rates," he said the party is open to "increased revenue . . . as the byproduct of a growing economy, energized by a simpler, cleaner, fairer tax code, with fewer loopholes, and lower rates for all."
This won't sit well with some on the right, but Boehner is just being realistic. There is absolutely no way that Obama would be blamed if the nation went over the fiscal cliff. It doesn't matter if he's an arrogant SOB who mocks his opponents. The president never has to run again and he will claim a mandate based on the poll results (even if he didn't get one). Boehner risks a 2014 electoral debacle if he doesn't at least sound like he wants to compromise.
It's hard to judge the make-up of the House GOP caucus - how conservative it is, how independent. My guess is that Boehner will have his hands full getting GOP members to follow his lead in what promises to be a bloody battle to keep the country from plunging over the abyss.