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John Boehner chokes up before being sworn for his second term as Speaker of the House.
If John Boehner keeps down this path, he'll be giving the gavel back to Nancy Pelosi
after the 2014 midterms. And then he'll really have something to cry about.
The Wall Street Journal doesn't come out and say it definitively, but this is a pretty clear sign that they think congressional Republicans are bluffing about demanding Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit:
We'll support efforts to cut spending and reform entitlements, but the political result will be far worse if Republicans start this fight only to cave in the end. You can't take a hostage you aren't prepared to shoot. Do the two GOP leaders have a better strategy today than they did in 2011, and do they have the backbench support to execute it?
Instead of threatening default, the WSJ editorial board suggests Boehner embrace a less ambitious policy agenda:
Mr. Boehner needs a plausible counter-strategy. Recognize that he can't govern from the House, but use the leverage of the spending sequester and power of the purse to see what few policy victories can be had. Find some programs and special interests to showcase and defund, in the manner of the Bridge to Nowhere. Take on corporate welfare. And unleash other Members in the House and Senate—the Toomeys, Hensarlings and Johnsons—to make the GOP's growth and reform case to the public. Mr. Boehner can't be the main party spokesman.

Push smaller reforms that are good policy but might also have a chance of picking up Democratic support.

The most amazing thing about this is that you've got The Wall Street Journal editorial page encouraging a Republican Speaker of the House to back off a hard-right agenda. It's not that they disagree with Boehner's objectives—it's just that they (like Newt Gingrich and Judd Gregg) don't think he can plausibly achieve them. Nonetheless, Boehner says he's plowing forward with the debt limit gambit. And as long as President Obama and congressional Democrats stand firm in their pledge against negotiating over the debt limit and to only consider spending cuts if Republicans are willing to raise revenues, Boehner and the House Republican Conference will be headed off the political cliff in November 2014.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 09:27 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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