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Beside the fact that those to the Right of him are absolutely fed up with the idea of “compromise” and are clinging desperately to the notion that an increase in the debt ceiling means an increase in spending, John Boehner has to also play to the moderate members of his party, not to mention Independents, and Democrats – and that’s a tough spot to be in. It seems the days are long gone that the GOP could move to the center and actually legislate from that position: the highly conservative faction of its electorate has made sure that its message is being heard loud and clear. They remain persistant in their view of “no compromise” by any means necessary; although, ironically, and yet interestingly enough, they have admitted, lately, that an agreement to raise the debt ceiling by Tea Party members, IS compromise on their part. So, maybe, or perhaps arguably, there is a little room to wiggle.
While many taxpayers, politicians, and financial experts, alike, feel that the failure to raise the debt limit would yield increasing financial consequences, many right-wing conservatives and Tea Party members believe that the future of our country hangs in the balance due to the egregious spending binges that have become so prevalent in Washington. Some Tea-Party backed GOP members plan to “hold it down” and vote against raising the debt ceiling, unless Republicans can come up with a deal which spells out an immediate balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution. What proves to be more of a political quandary, is that the Tea Party also feels members like Boehner have not represented their ideals from day one and that the Republican establishment has sold them out. Warnings were issued in December 2010, by the Tea Party to the newly appointed Republican House if they did not deliver the kind of results they campaigned upon. Referencing earmarked-laden government spending bills that were pending in December, the message to GOP members was emphatic: “We will go after them. We're not going to accept it," cautioned Amy Kremer, leader of the Tea Party Express. Houston Lawyer, Ryan Hecker, a driving force behind the Tea-Party-endorsed document “the Contract From America”, states, "They have to build legitimacy -- they don't have legitimacy right now. They are the same Republicans, in many cases, who voted for TARP and did not put forth real conservative solutions over the course of six years when we had the presidency and both houses of Congress."
In a matter of months, tensions between newcomers and the Establishment have intensified dramatically. Earlier this week, a riff occurred within the GOP, as members of the Republican caucus split over Boehner’s proposed budget bill, which some said, failed to include an adequate balanced-budget amendment. Staff members for the Republican Study Committee began emailing outside conservative groups, urging them to “put pressure on fellow Republicans to oppose Boehner’s plan.” The email sent by one staff member, also called for lobbying efforts against 30 Committee members who were identified by District. Meanwhile, in an effort to reinforce their position, Tea Party members rallied in front of the Capitol, Wednesday, touting hand-held messages that read “hold the line” and “balance the budget.” By Thursday, there were a growing number of conservative Republicans that refused to sign on to Boehner’s bill, forcing him to postpone a vote in the House.
As former House Speaker Newt Gingrich knows all too well, failure to reach a debt agreement could possibly result in catastrophic results not only financially, but politically as well. Much like Boehner, Gingrich and Republicans came in sweeping the Democratic Majority out of the House of Representatives. Like Boehner, Gingrich pledged to govern differently; he and his Republican cohorts concocted the “Contract With America,” which laid out GOP policy plans in 1994. And much like Boehner, he was met with stiff opposition from his within own party. "Gingrich came to office in 1994 claiming to be revolutionary and then found that some of his members were much more revolutionary than he was," said John Pitney, a former Republican House aide.
According to recent polls, Democrats, moderate Republicans, and Independents (even Boehner himself) want compromise. It’s what moves things in Washington. Because you have to reach across the isle, especially having a Democratic-controlled Senate, there must be concessions in order to get things done. The Tea Party has a very different mission – they believe that the members they elected in the House of Representatives were sent to Washington to do one thing and one thing only: cut spending; even if that means no compromise. Their philosophy and that of most other Congressional members will never be fully in line. We have seen evidence of this divide play out more and more over the past week. Many Tea Party-backed Republicans have rejected the bill passed by the Speaker, which undercuts his credibility now and will, eventually, probably undermine his efforts to serve another term.
In the coming days, John Boehner and his caucus have some serious choices to make-either they agree to the deal that is currently being drafted by Senate Republicans and Democrats in order to raise the debt ceiling, or stand firm on the convictions of the far Right and be remembered in history as the members of the House that stood by and allowed the U.S. to default on its obligations. Unfortunately, no matter what the decision will be, many are already questioning Boehner’s leadership ability; and in regard to future legislation, the failure to tame his losely-controlled caucus will, no doubt, add to that air of ambiguity and uncertainty.