Not counting his sweet government health care, his months of vacation time and his anachronistic job security (unless slimy Eric Cantor slides out from under him), Speaker John Boehner has a terrible job.
Sure, though his candidates received fewer total votes than the Democrats in the recent election, he kept his large majority in the House of Representatives, and likely will until at least through 2020—thanks to the ridiculous gerrymandering that followed the 2010 election.
But this only means his caucus—even with the defeat of poster nudniks Allen West and Joe Walsh—is more settled in its extremism. His members’ only fear? A more extreme Republican beating them in a primary.
That will only happen if they do something crazy, like vote for higher tax rates on rich people, which the president has vowed to make them do.
Meanwhile, Boehner is facing the reality that if his party loses Texas as they have California, it will cease to be a national party in a decade or two. This is what’s known as an existential problem. Thus, he’s going to need some Republicans to vote for some immigration reform sooner rather than later. That’s not going to be easy.
But first, he needs to deal with the messy matter of the expiring Bush tax cuts and the “sequester” on spending that would directly affect the bottom line of Republicans’ favorite corporate sponsors.
The speaker knows he’s facing a president who just won an electoral college landslide and garnered nearly five million more votes than his party’s “electable” candidate. And this president is threatening to ramp up his killer campaign machine to push for the end of the Bush tax cuts for the rich, a policy already supported by about 6 out of 10 voters.
So what can Speaker Boehner do?
Throw Paul Ryan—the losing running mate of the “electable” candidate—into the fire.
Yes, Boehner named Paul Ryan to be a part of the “fiscal cliff” “negotiating” team.
This is perfect poetic justice. Paul Ryan voted for every Bush policy that blew the surplus, he was behind the showdown that led the downgrading of our debt and his budget proposal is so toxic that he had to be hidden during the last weeks of the campaign. Who else would Boehner want to negotiate on his behalf?