Speaker of the House John Boehner was interviewed on Sean Hannity’s television show yesterday and took a very hard line on the debt ceiling negotiations and the tax talk.
He won’t be pressured by an artificial deadline set by Treasury Secretary Geithner, and there is no way any tax hikes will be part of a debt-ceiling deal.
“I’ve been watching leaders for 20 years,” Boehner told Hannity. He continued:
Every year they look at this problem. They look up at a mountain and see how tall and steep it is and decide, nah, we are going to kick the can down the road another year. We are out of road. Now is the time to deal with it.
This is exactly what the Speaker needed to say and he said it forcefully and repeatedly. It is the first time I have seen the Speaker in an extended interview with any broadcast journalist other than a Sunday show and of course he reached a great deal more people via Sean’s program than via a Sunday show. Crucially, he reached his base and beyond his base to a good chunk of the independents who were watching last night.
There are something like 2 million people watching Hannity on any given night, and Boehner’s message got to all of them plus those they influence. They now know that the president has proposals before him to cut spending and that the GOP won’t raise taxes. The key now is repetition of this message, with the Speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor delivering the same message again and again and again in many different settings.
The president will use his press conference today to try and push back with a different message and the GOP leadership should be out in force on radio and television this afternoon and evening countering whatever the message is. These are the crucial four to six weeks before a showdown in which the public makes up its mind about who is acting responsibly in D.C., and if the GOP forfeits the battle it is the GOP’s own fault as it has the far stronger arguments much more in keeping with the public’s views.
So Round One to the Speaker. Let’s hope that he stays in the ring.