Could Republicans Stage A Coup On John Boehner?

by
Owen Poindexter
What was once unthinkable is now a rallying cry of far-right groups: Fire Boehner.


Could John Boehner (left) be on his way out as Speaker of the House? Eric Cantor (right) could take his place in January. PHOTO: Reuters

Speaker of the House John Boehner is suddenly in trouble with his own party, with many on the right calling for the Speaker's removal from his post. The reason: he's trying to actually negotiate (just a little). His couter-proposal on the fiscal cliff negotiations to President Obama looked to many like a Republican's dream package, and, unsurprisingly, it was rejected quickly by the President.

Boehner asked for no increase in tax rates, no new presidential powers related to the debt ceiling or a raising of the debt ceiling (both of which the president insists on), and enormous spending cuts that go deeper than previous proposals. To many, it appeared that Boehner was simply positioning himself as far right as possible, so that if he and President Obama manage to find a middle ground before the fiscal cliff hits in 2013, it will be a right-leaning middle ground.

So why are far right groups like Freedom Works and Americans For Prosperity so angry at Boehner? Because he included a cap on charitable deductions, which would raise about $800 billion in tax revenue. An utter non-starter for anyone who identifies with the Tea Party.

"The President’s proposal and Speaker Boehner’s counteroffer fail to seriously deal with the reality of the problems facing the nation," Americans for Prosperity president Tim Phillips said in a statement Monday.

Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, told CNN on Tuesday, "I think (Boehner) is negotiating with himself. I wish Republicans would lay out a more substantial vision."

Boehner further antagonized himself with these groups when he removed four Republicans from House Committees who he had grappled with in the past on a number of issues, taxes chief among them.

“Speaker Boehner has been an abysmal failure as speaker, and his latest purge is the nail in the coffin for conservatives.” American Majority Action president and CEO Ned Ryun said in a statement on Thursday, “Boehner has never won a negation battle with the White House or Senate—and he’s been nothing short of an embarrassing spokesman for the Conservative Movement. It’s time for him to go.”

The idea that Boehner would not be reelected as Speaker of the House was unthinkable a month ago, but the whispers that he could face a serious challenge, perhaps from the less compromising Eric Cantor or Kevin McCarthy. A House Democratic aide told the National Journal that Boehner’s team “is going to have to work their butts off and call in every chit to make sure he wins what should normally be just a boring vote.”

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