Sunday, July 24, 2011

Is Boenhner Trying to Save Obama from Himself? or Just Chicken? or Both?

The recent big news on the debt ceiling death spiral is that Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has walked away from the talks with President Obama.  The usual take on this is that it reflects the usual Republican intransigence in all dealings with Democrats, and particularly, with the current occupant of the White House.

My somewhat contrarian view is that Speaker Boehner is in fact appalled at the cuts in social programs being offered by the President, and wants no part of any deal which includes them.

In this sense, he is saving the Republican party from Armageddon -- since the proffered cuts are in Social Security and Medicare, both of which are extremely popular with Republican voters.   Also, by inadvertance (or unwelcome necessity) he is saving the President from his own misguided attempt to cut those programs.

Call it a failure of Republican nerve, or call it a political calculation which mixes a good dose of self preservation with the knowledge that those programs are more useful to Republicans as propaganda targets on the hoof, then they would be if extinguished.  Either way -- I think Boehner's withdrawal from the talks might signal, in an odd way, the best good sense we've seen from Washington in several months.

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