In a statement today, Speaker Boehner issued more tough talk about about no new tax hikes as a part of a deal to avoid the sequester cuts. The problem is that Boehner doesn’t really have a choice.
Here is the statement from Boehner:
President Obama first proposed the sequester and insisted it become law. Republicans have twice voted to replace these arbitrary cuts with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our national defense. We believe there is a better way to reduce the deficit, but Americans do not support sacrificing real spending cuts for more tax hikes. The president’s sequester should be replaced with spending cuts and reforms that will start us on the path to balancing the budget in 10 years.
Speaker Boehner’s remarks were more empty tough talk. The reality is that the House Republicans have a choice between either raising more revenue, or letting the sequester cut defense spending. Boehner’s statement underplayed how desperate a majority of House Republicans are to avoid those defense cuts. As recently as December 20, 2012, the House voted to replace the defense cuts with cuts to food stamps and healthcare.
House Republicans have already shown their hand. They will do anything to get rid of the defense cuts. Boehner can talk a big game, but all he has is empty talk. House Republicans have so marginalized themselves that they no longer have a seat at the table. What many House Republicans don’t get is that there is a difference between making policy,and preventing policy from being made. After years of Republican led dysfunction in the House, the rest of the national policy making apparatus has decided to work around Boehner and his self destructive caucus.
The House Republican strategy has left them powerless, and on the outside looking in.
Boehner thinks that the sequester is the big trump card that he has left to play. The speaker has convinced himself that his caucus will stick together on the defense cuts, and force Obama to cave on the discretionary cuts. The problem with his thinking is that for the last few years the exact opposite has been happening. The president understands that all of the pressure is on House Republicans. Obama can afford to let them have their temper tantrums, and wait for them to cave.
The country has seen this movie too many times before. We already know how it ends. House Republicans are going to take the country to the brink of another disaster, only to give in when Obama doesn’t cave. Like an ill behaved child, the Republican controlled House continues to test their political daddy in the White House.
It is kind of cute that John Boehner is clinging on to his last illusion of power with such naivete. Boehner is bluffing, and everyone knows it. Boehner’s remarks today are the official start of the countdown until the next great House Republican cave of 2013.