If Republicans win control of the House of Representatives next week, as most prognosticators predict, the odds-on favorite to be the next Speaker of the House is Ohio Republican John Boehner, the body's current minority leader. Boehner is a bon vivant from blue collar Ohio roots, whose love of golf, Camel cigarettes, and red wine is as legendary as his perpetually tan skin. But what kind of House Speaker would he be? (Watch Newt Gingrich endorse Boehner.) Here, five theories:
A kinder, gentler speaker
Boehner insists that, unlike Pelosi or his former mentor Newt Gingrich, he would be "a very different kind of politician" as Speaker, says Paul Kane in The Washington Post. Instead of shutting out the minority party, Boehner says he would let Democrats offer bills and amendments, which "lets the steam" out of the partisan animosity. Given his druthers, Boehner would probably lead like the "traditional, not unreasonable, frankly likable Republican" he is, says Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair.
A partisan warrior
It's clear that Boehner "doesn't want to be remembered or seen as an arm-twister" or rank partisan, says Ezra Klein in The Washington Post, but "I don't look back at the last two years and think of Boehner as a real stickler for civility and bipartisanship." And he will continue to "play hardball politics because his caucus will demand it," says Cynthia Tucker in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. If he isn't "harshly, relentlessly partisan," he will face an insurrection from his "new crop of Tea Party candidates who equate compromise with treason."
A strategic pragmatist
"Boehner is by nature a salesman, a deal-maker, not an ideologue," says Vanity Fair's Purdum. His real leadership gift is "a calm and approachable manner, an insistence on strategic planning, a refusal to give up," says Nancy Benac in The Associated Press. That, plus his fund-raising prowess, explains his quick rise in GOP ranks and then his remarkable comeback after being kicked out of leadership in 1998. And it will help him maintain the "extraordinary discipline" he has managed in his caucus.
A deficit hawk
Boehner says his priority as Speaker would be to "cut the size of the government, not to shut it down." To do that, he tells National Journal's Major Garrett, he would "set up a process that makes it easier to cut spending," especially pork. One way to do that, he adds, is that "if a member has an amendment that would cut spending, it should get a vote. Period." Boehner has also pledged to replace the "Paygo" rule implemented by Democrats, which means all programs have to paid for, with "Cutgo," which would require cuts in spending to offset any new programs, say Daniel Stone, Eleanor Clift, and Andrew Romero in Newsweek.
A deficit disaster
"Cutgo" would be "an effective way to limit new spending programs," says Jonathan Chait in The New Republic, but it wouldn't stop Boehner's caucus from cutting taxes without paying for the drop in revenue. Our "structural deficit exploded" because the GOP similarly dropped "Paygo" a decade ago to pass the Bush tax cuts and Medicare drug bill. It's also worth noting that enacting the Boehner-endorsed "Pledge to America" "would add more than $700 billion to the debt," say Newsweek's Stone, Clift, and Romero.
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