“Hindsight is 20-20”: Boehner Regrets His Fiscal Cliff Strategy

Leah Barkoukis

1/26/2013 9:00:00 PM - Leah Barkoukis

After the fiscal cliff deal was reached, House Speaker John Boehner made it very clear that he was done negotiating directly with President Obama. Not surprisingly, Boehner’s promise of a new strategy going forward has to do with regrets over how he handled the cliff negotiations.

In a private speech to the Ripon Society on Tuesday, Boehner said that he should have taken a different course after the November election by immediately demanding that the Senate produce a bill to avert the worst parts of a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that were due to hit on Jan. 1.

Instead, Boehner delivered a formal speech at the Capitol on the day after President Obama won a second term, in which he offered a major Republican concession – new tax revenue as part of a broader fiscal deal.

“Looking back, what I should have done the day after the election was to make it clear the House has passed a bill to extend all of the current tax rates, the House has passed a bill to replace the sequester with cuts in mandatory spending, and the Senate ought to do its work,” Boehner said. “We’re ready, able and willing to work with the Senate as soon as they produce a bill. It should have been what I said. You know, again, hindsight is 20-20.”

Boehner was also forthright about the problems his strategy caused within the party. From House Republicans voting 151-85 against the fiscal cliff deal to having 12 Republican defections during his reelection vote as Speaker of the House—the division was evident.

“You have no idea the suspicions and the undercurrents that it caused, frankly, a lot of my members,” Boehner said of his negotiations with Obama. “It really has, in fact, caused somewhat of a breach that I’ve been in the middle of trying to repair.”

Boehner attributed the suspicions to the younger members in the Republican ranks who are not familiar with his voting record in the years before he took the Speaker’s gavel.