Let’s assume that House Republican leader John Boehner is a reasonable man, as Democrats repeatedly say. Let’s also assume that he wants a Republican candidate to win the 2016 presidential elections. His behavior in the shutdown saga so far undermines these two assumptions. What then does Boehner value most in today’s crisis management? It must be the unity of his Republican caucus in the House. But chasing that value damages Republican prospects for future elections.
In the 2012 fiscal crisis, Boehner was outvoted when a majority of House Republicans pulled him back from a compromise with Obama on more taxes for the rich in exchange for expenditure cuts. Today, off the record Republican statements illustrate uncertainty about their end game. The Speaker is floating in order to avoid antagonizing some of his own members. Continue reading