Few can forget Minority Leader John Boehner’s constant haranguing of President Obama with the question: “Mr. President, where are the jobs?” In fact, in the run up to the 2012 mid-term elections all Boehner and the rest of the Republican leadership seem to talk about was job creation and spending cuts. Now, having been Speaker since January, the House has yet to produce anything in the way of legislation that will actually create jobs, in fact Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke pointed out that Republican measures aimed at cutting government spending may impede job creation. In spite of this, Boehner is now under attack by members of the Tea Party for not cutting enough. In fact one prominent a Tea Party leader, Judson Phillips, who heads up one of the largest umbrella organizations, Tea Party Nation, said: “Charlie Sheen is now making more sense than John Boehner.” Phillips has gone so far as to advocate that someone run to replace Boehner in 2012.
The antipathy between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party movement was predicted long before the results of 2010 were tallied. This tension was only increased when Boehner and his leadership cadre demurred in considering any newly elected Tea Party backed lawmaker for a committee chairmanship. Now under Boehner’s leadership the Republicans have stepped back from their goal of cutting $100 Billion dollars this year and that seems to be the tipping point for Mr. Phillips. To wit: “Early on, the GOP promised to cut $100 billion from the budget,” Phillips wrote, according to CNN. “The Republicans in the House quickly went squishy on that and had to be cajoled into cutting only $61 billion. Now, John Boehner is saying when the Senate comes back and they start negotiating…the $61 billion figure is not safe…Phillips’ display of frustration and anger is just the latest sign of growing rifts between devout Tea Partiers, who would like to see an uncompromising approach to addressing spending, and the majority of Republican legislators, who must deal with certain legislative realities surrounding the passage of a measure to fund the government.” But the friction and frustration isn’t solely between the Tea Party and the Republican leadership, it’s also internal. Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler also voiced disappointment with the level of cuts proposed but stopped short of criticizing Boehner. In fact Meckler took Judson to task for his attacks on Boehner, saying: “It’s one thing to criticize someone for their performance. It’s another to use this vicious hyperbole,”
Now let’s consider the other side of the equation. For all of the Tea Party fueled melodrama now taking place on Capitol Hill, the rock of reality cannot be ignored. That rock amounts to Harry Reid, the Democrat Majority in the Senate and the veto pen of Barack Obama. Boehner and anyone else in the G.O.P. who is serious about deficit reduction knows that these players will eventually have their say and they are not going to buy into the House bill as it is presently constructed. That said Boehner and his lieutenants are truly between a rock and a hard place and at this point and the ultimate outcome is unknowable. On thing seems certain and that is that the final legislation isn’t likely to resemble the House bill in its entirety. Why, because for all the bluff and bluster, that’s just not in the cards. John Boehner knows this and he’s now just trying to maneuver between the rock on one side and the Tea Party storm on the other. His political future depends on his navigational skills both on Capitol Hill and back home in Ohio where the Tea Party will be ready and waiting come the primary season.
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