Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Big Winner, The Big Choice

You know who gets the gold medal for making the fiscal cliff deal happen? Joe Biden, that's who. The much-mis-maligned VP managed to negotiate with the legislative hostage-takers and get. the. bill. done.  2016, take note.

Sure, it's a flawed bill. That was inevitable. Like it or not, blame gerrymandering if you will and you're right, but we have a divided government and so it was inevitable that the president's target dollar amount of raising rates at $250,000 was going to move.

The biggest question mark hangs over John Boehner. There will certainly be a lot of symbolic votes against his re-election as Speaker tomorrow - Iowa's own Caffeinated Thoughts is on the Dump Boehner bandwagon - maybe enough to force the first multi-ballot Speaker election since 1925, when a split between progressive Republicans and party regulars dragged out the election.

Assuming he is re-elected, Boehner has a choice. He can return to the path he was previously on, managing the house under the so-called "Hastert rule." Dennis Hastert, the puppet house speaker from 1999 to 2006 (Tom DeLay was actually running the show) wouldn't move legislation forward without a "majority of the majority."

But that was a new management style. Boehner could also choose to work as he did yesterday and be speaker of the HOUSE, passing legislation with bipartisan support. Yesterday proved that non-crazy Republicans, in coalition with the Democrats, can actually shape and pass compromise legislation. There's not many to work with and not much margin; the roll call shows nearly two-thirds of House Republicans, including our own Steve King and more surprisingly supposed Boehner ally Tom Latham - chose ideology over country. (Here's more analysis of the roll call.)

It's risky for Boehner personally, but it's better for the country, and better for the severely damaged brand of his party. It's not what I want; I'd rather have Nancy Pelosi running the show. But it's the hand we've been dealt and given the nature of the district lines, it's probably the way things will be till 2021.

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