Hats off to Speaker John Boehner. No seriously… hats off, folks. Given a shaky House GOP coalition, we forced two votes in the Senate on the Pence Amendment and the repeal of Obamacare, and for the first time since the Second World War the federal government shrank. Shrank!
Round 2 is where the real heavy pounding begins. Obama and the Senate Democrats have tested the House Republicans. They are praying to God like Bernie Baumbaum in the woods just begging for the Tea Party and pro-lifers to eviscerate Speaker Boehner for a job not done.
Now small minds and the bought-and-paid-for are buying it, but if you look across the spectrum you’ll see that the Tea Party has been by and large quiet. Not because they aren’t disappointed (by and large, everyone is disappointed in the end product), but most folks are astute enough to know that Boehner just pulled one hell of a snooker deal on the Obama administration and the Senate Democrats.
On the pro-life side of the fence, the Pence Amendment was the sticking point with the Democratic leadership. Boehner stressed it as a non-negotiable, Obama said he would shut it down. Keep this in mind folks: there is *nothing* Obama would love more than to see a civil war between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. Boehner managed to get two votes, one on Pence, the other on the Obamacare repeal. That’s election year gold.
“Here we go again with elections!” the cynic says. Not so fast… understand this first. The House Republicans are first and foremost a coalition, with different constituencies, different reasons for being there in Washington, and not all of them on the same page. We all know that Republicans in Washington need to be worked on in order to carry the right message. Should this coalition splinter during a government shutdown, we may never get the same chance again. It took 16 years to recover from the 1995 government shutdown debacle, and while today’s environment may be squarely in our camp this time (and the MSM will not hold the same power over hearts and minds in a blog-savvy 2011), there is a manner and way in which the debate must be framed.
Boehner won real concessions from the Democrats. They came out the losers in this, and desperately are trying to recast the narrative so that the Republican coalition of fiscal conservatives, libertarians, social conservatives, independents, moderates, and Tea Party activists splinters into a million pieces.
Be smarter than they are. Keep up the pressure on the Congress. The real fight is coming in about two weeks on $5 trillion in cuts and a balanced budget. It’s not a fix, but it’s a starting point for conversation that will require a united front and an overwhelming majority to keep intact.