Despite rejecting the President’s call on election night, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner woke up to a…well…wake-up call on Wednesday morning.
After the shellacking Republicans received on election night – losing the White House, two seats in the Senate, and a handful of seats in the House (retaining a majority mainly due to strategic gerrymandering of districts) – Boehner executed three flip-flops within about 12 hours of the election being called for the President.
1. Boehner Says “Obamacare Is The Law Of The Land.”
When asked if he still plans to repeal Obamacare in light of the election results, Boehner replied: “I think the election changes that…Obamacare is the law of the land.”
Watch a video clip of the ABC interview:
2. Boehner’s Ready To Cave On Commonsense Immigration Reform
Given that Obama won the growing population of Latino voters by 44 points, Boehner seems ready to nudge his party in the direction of bi-partisan immigration reform.
Republicans have blocked all movement on this issue up until now, but that might soon change. Refusing to register the (Spanish) writing on the wall would, of course, continue to deplete the Republican voting base. Recognizing the need for the party to “evolve,” Boehner said in the same interview:
A comprehensive approach is long overdue, and I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground to take care of this issue once and for all.
3. Boehner’s “Ready To Be Led” On Balanced Deficit Reduction
While Boehner may have been trying to set up Obama for blame if talks fail, his remarks on the deficit and tax reform sounded a lot like he was rolling over on the “no-new-revenue” brinksmanship displayed by Republicans since the 2012 mid-terms.
In a speech on Wednesday, Boehner said:
Mr. President, this is your moment. We’re ready to be led — not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. We want you to lead, not as a liberal or a conservative, but as president of the United States of America.
However, in the ABC interview that day, Boehner said that raising tax rates would be “unacceptable,” setting himself up for another showdown with President Obama, who has emphatically stated about the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts: “I refuse to renew them again” – for people who earn over $250,000 per year, that is.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wasn’t quite as good at feigning a spirit of bi-partisanship. He also rejected the President’s call after the election, and said Wednesday that the President did not “deliver” during his first term in office. His post-election remarks also pretended that Washington’s gridlock hasn’t been almost exclusively due to Republican intransigence:
To the extent [Obama] wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way…Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives…and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office.
The good news: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection in 2014, and this race is a top priority for Democrats. Come on Kentucky!!
Still, McConnell’s licking his wounds with even less minority control of the Senate than he had before. Boehner is the person in charge of the only chamber where Republicans have a majority. And Boehner’s a more moderate Republican, albeit a spineless one.
The question remains: Will Boehner side with the vestiges of Tea Party radicalism or a more centrist approach in 2012?
Whatever Boehner’s true intentions, the potential for he and his party to continue driving government off the proverbial cliff emphasizes the need for liberals, progressives and moderates to stay engaged in the political process past election day.
In his victory speech, Obama indicated that our collective responsibility to move forward doesn’t end with the closing of the polls. We all must work a little harder to stay engaged, to speak up, and to take action if we want our momentous victory this week to bear fruit.
As Obama put it, let’s move on to the “hard and frustrating – but necessary – work of self-government.” See video highlights of Obama’s victory speech.