On the morning after the “fiscal cliff” crisis was averted with the House passing the Senate’s bill unamended, a strange item regarding Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) appeared in a Politico insider wrap-up of the negotiations:
“Go f— yourself,” Boehner sniped as he pointed his finger at Reid, according to multiple sources present.
Reid, a bit startled, replied: “What are you talking about?”
Boehner repeated: “Go f— yourself.“
According to the Politico story, Boehner later bragged to fellow Republicans about the exchange. Why would the Speaker feel the need to brag about telling off Reid, publicizing what to many Americans would surely sound like embarrassing behavior? Hmm. Who would be impressed by childishly showing outward contempt for a major Democrat and then the even more immature act of boasting about it?
Could it be the exact folks the Speaker is having the hardest time corralling — the Tea Partiers in his caucus?
On Friday, January 3, the Speaker faces re-election, which would normally be a formality as his caucus only lost a handful of seats — despite receiving more than a million fewer total votes than Democratic candidates. But the “fiscal cliff” debate has exacerbated fissures in his party after — for the first time in nearly 20 years — tax rates are set to rise on the richest.
First Boehner couldn’t get a majority of his members to support his “Plan B,” which would have raised the rates on incomes over $1 million. Then he agreed to put whatever bill the Senate passed to a vote. When the bill came to the House with $600 billion in tax increases and under $20 billion in spending cuts, House Republicans revolted. They demanded that an amendment be added with $300 billion in spending cuts, which the Senate said would kill the bill. Among the revolting Republicans, and perhaps the most revolting, was House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).
Republicans eventually allowed a vote on the bill, violating the Hastert Rule that demands any bill to be considered have a majority of the majority party behind it. But most Republicans voted against the bill.
Wednesday morning, the anger from the right was palpable on sites such as Breitbart and Red State that cater to the party’s extremes.