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The Temptation of John Boehner

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Byron York warns the GOP that President Obama may be moving to the center very quickly to save the dwindling hopes he has for re-election.

Perhaps, but that would be a risk that Speaker Boehner and the House GOP would have to run if the president actually offered to slash spending, programs and agencies even as he agreed to entitlement reforms.

What the GOP cannot do is underestimate how desperate the president is to get a deal despite his bluster. There is no “challenge” in selling a deal to Democrats, despite what the New York Times says. All a deal needs is the president and 13 Democratic senators when 23 of them are on the ballot in 16 months. If the Speaker holds firm the president’s rhetoric will turn out just to be that, more hot air from perpetual hot-air-and-motion machine at 1600.

He needs a deal, and the GOP freshmen need that deal to be all about cutting spending, programs, agencies and entitlements. It doesn’t have to be a great win, just a good start. The swamp cannot be drained until 2013, but the Speaker must resist the temptation to be part of a “grand bargain.”

We don’t need or want a grand bargain. We want spending cuts equal to the amount of the debt ceiling raise.

Real cuts. That would be a job well done.

Kevin McCarthy assured my audience yesterday that not only would the home mortgage deduction be untouched and no taxes raised in any deal, but that no deal would spring out over the weekend and that the public would have a chance to study any bill for three days. (The complete transcript is here.)

The Congressional switchboard is 202-225-3121. Ring up the Speaker, GOP Leader Eric Cantor and GOP Whip McCarthy and tell them to cut and not to raise. Remind them that the home mortgage interest deduction and the charitable deduction matter to their base and they are not to be compromised. Throw in a demand that agencies actually disappear, that NPR’s subsidy go away, that the EPA be restrained.

And then turn to Twitter: @JohnBoehner @EricCantor @KevinoMcCarthy @GOPLeader and @GOPWhip are the five addresses you need to be heard. Use them.

The GOP freshmen need to continue to present a strong block demanding that no taxes be raised and no secret deals struck. If the Speaker buckled, they’d have to step up and repudiate the deal, but he is likely to bring them back a decent bargain on spending and then they will have to accept it as the best that divided government can do for the moment.

But no “grand bargains” or pledges to reform the tax code in the next year. Not under this president and not under Harry Reid.


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