With the election results ensuring another four years with an empowered adversary in the White House, and a growing docket of polls that show voters ready to blame Republicans for a failure to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, many House Republicans appear to view Mr. Boehner with the same sort of respect that adult children award their parents for the sage counsel they ignored in their younger days.
Should his support hold up, Mr. Boehner, who faced a frequent battering from his own members over the last two years as he tried to seal deals on various spending agreements, would be better able to negotiate from a point of relative Republican unity.
And, most important, he would be viewed as able to sell a deal to his once-fractious caucus. ...NYT
In other words, Eric Cantor can sit down and stay quiet, at least for a while. Republicans in the House are sticking with Boehner. The "realities of the election" seem to have hit them. Things could change, according to the Times, if President Obama forces the tax issue or if -- as they may -- hardline Republicans around the country get angrier.
Columnist Dana Milbank sees the Speaker's situation somewhat differently.
Speaker John Boehner emerged from his weekly huddle with House Republicans on Wednesday morning to take his place behind a mahogany lectern in front of a brown backdrop. The dark tones provided ideal camouflage for the deeply tanned speaker — as though he were trying to vanish into the background.
Who could blame him?... Milbank, WaPo
A front page report from Washington Post shows less support for the Speaker, more for a 39% top tax rate. Boehner's position seems a little less secure.
A growing chorus of Republicans is urging House leaders to abandon their staunch opposition to higher tax rates for the wealthy with the aim of clearing the way for a broad deal that would also rein in the cost of federal health and retirement programs. ...Many GOP centrists and some conservatives are calling on House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) to concede on rates now, while he still has some leverage to demand something in return. Republicans are eager to win changes to fast-growing safety-net programs, such as raising the eligibility age for Medicare and applying a less-generous measure of inflation to Social Security benefits. ...WaPo
Boehner's position appears to depend on the softening of Obama's stand on raising taxes. Still, a top rate of close to 39% is beginning to look likely.
“I and some others are advocating giving the president what he wants,” said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette (R-Ohio). But he stressed that this must be part of a package that slows federal borrowing and reduces the debt by $4 trillion to $5 trillion.
“Quite frankly, some people in this 2 percent who call me, they’re more worried about the fiscal cliff than about the rates going up a couple points. That has bigger risk for them,” said LaTourette, a close Boehner ally who is retiring in January. ...WaPo
And then there's the matter of who's to blame if the "cliff" is reached. Polls indicate the Republicans are already taking a beating and the blame: 53% to 27%. They've heard the news.
Republicans are looking for face-saving ways to retreat, such as allowing a tax increase to pass the House by voting “present” instead of “no.” Jeb Hensarling (Tex.), the outgoing chairman of the House GOP conference, acknowledged Wednesday on CNN that “the president is going to get his revenue one way or the other.”
As they prepare to accommodate Obama, Republican leaders have begun to crack down on hard-liners in their ranks who routinely defy compromise. On Monday, two dissidents were removed from the House Financial Services Committee and two from the Budget Committee.
Outside their meeting in the Capitol basement Wednesday morning, House Republicans were coming to grips with the inevitability of the tax increase. ...Milbank, WaPo