The battle over extending the expiring "Bush tax cuts" for the wealthiest Americans was shaping up to be one of the big stories of the midterm campaign, but Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) just changed the narrative. On CBS's "Face the Nation," the House minority leader said that while he'll still "fight to make sure we extend the current tax rates for all Americans," if "the only option I have is to vote for those at $250,000 and below, of course I'm going to do that." Has the big fight already ended in a whimper? (Watch The Week's Sunday Talk Show Briefing about Republicans and tax cuts)
It sure looks like the GOP's caving: "Did Boehner blink? I think so," says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. His office claims he's just refuting the "hostage" talking point Obama's been using to cudgel Boehner and the GOP, but "that doesn't make logical sense," or even political sense. Whether he meant to or not, "Boehner gave Obama an opening" to making this midterm a popular referendum on tax breaks for the wealthy.
"Did Boehner blink?"
Boehner's just playing good cop: "Game on," says Don Surber in the Charleston, WV, Daily Mail. When Obama demands we "soak the rich," Boehner's smart to change the subject. He wants to be not just House Speaker, but "de facto president for the last two years of Barack The Unready's reign," and with Congress in reach, he "won't be trapped into looking extremist." That's what his lieutenants are for.
"The Boehner gambit"
Obama forced the GOP's hand: Republicans knew that Obama would accuse them of holding middle-class tax cuts hostage, says Mark Mardell in BBC News. Boehner's change of position is a way of blunting that charge, but Republicans "can't avoid [it] altogether." Obama seems to have succeeded in "pushing the Republicans into some of sort of bipartisanship while not budging himself."
"Has Obama got his mojo back?"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- 10 things you need to know today: December 19, 2014
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Pope Francis' American problem
- 7 enduring lessons from It's a Wonderful Life
- Why the Sony hack changes everything
Subscribe to the Week