Boehner and incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor also sound grimly determined to cut government spending, and they have an able ally in incoming Budget Chairman Paul Ryan. And they don't seem to be backing off their promise to do whatever they can to repeal and hobble Obamacare.
That won't be easy, with Barack Obama's veto pen poised to strike. But Obamacare is not a self-propelling vehicle. It needs fuel and funding and fiddling from Congress. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Medicare agency head Donald Berwick had better plan on spending a lot of time on the south side of Capitol Hill over the next two years.
Boehner seems likely to prevail, in the lame duck session or as speaker next year, on extension of all the George W. Bush tax cuts, including those for high earners. Pelosi lacked the votes to let the latter expire before the election, and Obama seemed to be conceding the issue in his post-election press conference.
But Boehner will have his headaches when he has to rally votes to raise the national debt ceiling early next year. Freshmen don't want to vote for that, but it's irresponsible to let the government go without funding.
There's a tension as well between Boehner's hard line on issues and his pledge, in a pre-election speech at the American Enterprise Institute, to allow more open votes on amendments and to encourage committees to operate bipartisanly (as Boehner did on the 2001 education bill). We'll see how that goes.
Boehner is not likely to become as prominent a figure as Gingrich or Pelosi. But he'll start off with a larger majority than either of them did.
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