The small government brooms have begun their revolt against sorcerer Mickey Mouse.
Since the fiscal cliff negotiations came to a head, conservative activists have turned Speaker Boehner into their own fire hydrant and used him in kind. With fingerprints on the Tax Relief Extension Act and his vote for the bill, Republicans have done more than balk — they’ve started calling for Boehner’s head.
But why did Speaker Boehner really support the negotiated Fiscal Cliff bill, and what does it accomplish? Have the wheels really come off the wagon?
More Than Half of a Loaf
According to tax hawk Grover Norquist, the deal counts as a tax cut. Imprimis, it protects most taxpayers from a hike that was coming anyway. It also came after the country had already gone over the cliff. If a conservative is presented the chance to shield most Americans from tax hikes or the alternative of shielding no one, the choice is clear.
Conservative Chris Ruddy, chairman of the popular Newsmax magazine called the deal acceptable, lamenting, “The old proverb that ‘perfect is the enemy of the good’ applies here.” It was, after all, a negotiation.
Sacrifice a Rook, Take a Queen
By negotiating in good faith and giving President Obama many concessions in the Fiscal Cliff talks, Republicans have greatly increased their own leverage in upcoming Debt Ceiling negotiations. With tax hikes off the table for most Americans, the GOP is in strong negotiating position to demand deep cuts before they agree to raise the limit on Congress’s credit card.
Change The Conversation
With tax rates negotiated and codified long term, the entire conversation can now focus on spending cuts. Sure, Republicans will have to wheel and deal — cut a trillion out of entitlements, give half a trillion in defense — for example. But at least we’re all reading out of the spending cuts hymnal. That is much safer political ground for Republicans and a much needed dose of tough love for the country.
Later today, the U.S. House elects a new speaker. John Boehner’s political legacy hinges on whether the Republican caucus sticks by the man who threaded an impossible needle or whether they toss him hastily overboard for the sake of moving on.
Somebody has to say it out loud: John Boehner is a good conservative, a good Republican, and a good leader. On behalf of all those great leaders who’ve taken incredible heat in the name of doing what’s right, I sincerely hope that he retains his position. A good leader focuses his eye on the distant horizon and mutes his ear to the screams of the shortsighted. That’s what Speaker Boehner has done.
To those fellow fiscal hawks seriously considering a mutiny against your captain in stormy seas, I urge you to channel those immortal words of Bon Qui Qui, “[Y}ou can have it your way, but don’t get crazy.”