Speaker John Boehner eyes his bête noire, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Larry Downing/Reuters)
Congressional aides tell Reuters that House Speaker John Boehner will cut the tea party contingent
in his caucus out of the negotiations in deal-making for the the long-term payroll tax cut extension.
Republicans in the House of Representatives got a public drubbing from critics within and outside the party in December for initially refusing to approve a Senate plan to extend the tax break for 160 million Americans through February.
The party of lower taxes was left on the defensive, countering a barrage of criticism that its unwillingness to compromise threatened an effective tax hike on workers, potentially damaging the fragile economic recovery.
Now, with Democratic and Republican negotiators preparing for a new round of talks in the coming days to extend the payroll tax cut for the rest of the year, Republican leaders are anxious to move quickly to get a deal, aides said. [...]
"I think Boehner will seek a more accommodating approach to get a good percentage of Democrats to vote for it - even if it costs him a lot of House Republican freshmen," one House Republican leadership aide told Reuters.
"His instincts will be not to be so reliant on House Republican freshmen," the aide added, referring to the 85 first-term congressmen. [...]
[T]he political fallout from the December showdown with Democrats was so unpleasant for Republicans that some congressional aides now speculate that Republicans might push to accelerate a deal by January 24, when Obama gives his annual State of the Union address to Congress.
It's a good lesson for the White House and Democrats in Congress. Exploiting the fracture in the GOP between the total nihilists' tea party and the opportunists (all the rest) works. The opportunists will have no choice but to make real compromise with Democrats if they want to avoid becoming even more unpopular with the public. What that means is that Democrats don't have to offer politically damaging concessions (say, for example, raising the Medicare eligibility age) in order to get things done.