House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suffered a stinging defeat late Thursday, when, at the last minute, he canceled a vote on his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff by extending Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans except those making more than $1 million a year. Boehner spent days pressuring his Republican colleagues into backing his proposal, known as Plan B, hoping it would give him leverage to get more concessions out of President Obama, who campaigned on a promise to let rates rise for households making more than $250,000 (this week he said he'd bend and agree to setting the threshold at $400,000). In the end, however, anti-tax conservatives refused to go along. Boehner said Friday that he didn't think the setback would cost him his leadership position — Republicans will decide on Jan. 3 who will be the speaker of the House in the next Congress. "They weren't taking that out on me," he said. "They were dealing with the perception that somebody might accuse them of raising taxes." Is he right to think his job is secure, or does this embarrassing defeat mean his days as the House GOP leader are almost over?
It looks like Boehner is history: Boehner figured passing Plan B would force Obama to accept "a deal more to the GOP's liking," says Rick Moran at The American Thinker. "Instead, his own caucus rejected him, castrated him, and tossed him to the wolves." This debacle made Boehner look "like a jellyfish," not a leader. If he can't get his team to support him now in a fight as important as this, "it's hard to see Boehner as speaker in the next Congress."
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All Boehner has to do is stand firm: Boehner's fate is in his own hands, says Noam Scheiber at The New Republic. If his priority is keeping everybody's Bush-era breaks from expiring at year's end, he could muster "a rump group of Republicans and a majority of House Democrats." If he wants to remain speaker — and "Boehner comes across as a man who wants to keep his job" — all he has to do is refuse to back any deal raising tax rates, at least until Jan. 3.
Boehner might not want the job: This fiasco "might be a moment of personal reckoning for Boehner," says Steve Kornacki at Salon. GOP hardliners have never trusted him, leaving him "a SINO — speaker-in-name-only" his whole two-year term. "He can't cut big deals with Obama," muscle his team into line, or "even pass his own stick-it-to-Obama tax plan." His job may be safe if he wants it, but it's "hard to see why he wants to keep putting himself through this."
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