All sides, even the parties excluded, say clearing the negotiating room improves the chance of success. It adds complexity as the two negotiators consult separately with the leaders not in the room. But it also minimizes the number of people who need to say yes to an initial agreement. [...]One thing has been made very clear by President Obama, reiterated in an appearance Thursday in Virginia: “Just to be clear, I’m not going to sign any package that somehow prevents the top rate from going up for folks at the top 2 percent,” Mr. Obama said. “But I do remain optimistic that we can get something done.”
This time, while Mr. Boehner has made himself the sole focal point, aides say he has made sure a broad leadership team is behind him. He meets every morning while the House is in session with the full slate of Republican leaders, as well as the committee chairmen who would most likely implement a deal: Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who heads the Budget Committee; Representative Dave Camp of Michigan, who leads the Ways and Means Committee; and Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, who heads the Energy and Commerce Committee.
White House officials have begun daily conference calls with the communications staffs of Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi. The White House communications director, Dan Pfeiffer, met with the Senate Democratic Caucus last week, and the director of the National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, spoke with the House Democrats late last month.
In that case, Boehner having his leadership team behind him is questionable. Here's Paul Ryan just a few short weeks ago: "[W]hat we have learned, history and economics, is that you keep raising tax rates on job creators, it will cost us jobs. [...] I don't support raising tax rates." And Eric Cantor: "An obsession to raise taxes is not going to solve the problem."
Boehner might be able to strike a deal with Obama, but can he negotiate with his own leadership team?