Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Post-Boehner House?

Rumors are circulating, apparently, that John Boehner will retire after the current election cycle. Ryan Grim and Jon Ward report. Are they true? I certainly have no idea. I do suspect that Boehner could keep the job if he wants it for at least two more years, but whether he wants it? It's hard to get inside a politicians head. There's surely a good case to be made that the reporting here couldn't have happened unless Boehner was willing to let it happen...at any rate, that's what we have for now.

What might be more useful is to speculate about what comes next. The assumption here is that Boehner retires after a status quo election, with Republicans picking up a handful of seats in the House. Just for fun, I'll put percentages on the possibilities:

45%: The new Speaker, whether it's Cantor or someone else who currently seems like a likely candidate, basically changes nothing. Within two months, the new Speaker is widely regarded by conservatives as the "establishment" brake on "real conservative" legislation.

45% The new Speaker, whether it's Cantor or someone else who currently seems like a likely candidate, is very similar to Boehner but not as effective, leading to either a government shutdown, some other real disaster for Republicans, or at least a notable increase in floor fiascos; party/committee conflict increases.

6% The new Speaker is a real Tea Partier, and deliberately runs the House over the cliff, leading to a complete disaster for Republicans

2% The new Speaker, Cantor or someone else who seems like a likely candidate,  is very similar to Boehner but significantly more effective. The Speaker is still denounced as an establishment sell out, but floor fiascos are a thing of the past, and deals are cut more easily.

1% The new Speaker somehow transforms House Republicans, putting an end to Republican and House dysfunction, and finding a way to enact a conservative policy agenda into law while cutting deals with Barack Obama and the Senate to give them some of their priorities.

1% New Speaker? What new Speaker? Republicans split, and can't elect anyone as Speaker, leading to chaos and unpredictable results.

10 comments:

  1. Adding to the fun is the likelihood that there will be (at least) a few more Republicans in the Senate after 2014.

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  2. I'd put the odds on #3 higher than 6% (in that the list of "likely candidates" seems to include the entire Jedi Council) at the expense of #1. #1 seems to be only a Cantor (MAYBE Ryan) possibility.

    That said, I think the odds of Boehner retiring voluntarily aren't all that high. I think that case for "Boehner wants this rumor out there" is pretty weak. If he's retiring, he'd rather have power from now until then. If he's not, he'd rather not have a Gingrich 1998 problem. Either way, I don't think the case for Boehner being able to squish palace gossip like this is that strong. I just can't see why he'd want this story to have run...unless its because rumors ARE swirling and he wants to quash them (but, if that's the case, I'd expect more quashing from not-for-attribution sources in this piece). Seriously, I think this is just a silly season article.

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    1. But if he is planning to retire, he really has to get it out there at some point. Keeping it a secret would be unfair to other Republicans who might run for his seat. So, pretty soon, I would think, he ought to shoot the rumors down or make an official announcment.

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    2. I'd have to agree that #3 should be higher than 6%.

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    3. Maybe this is the ultimate bright shiny next battle to placate the tea partiers in his caucus? "After we approve Syria, immigration reform, the debt ceiling, etc., you guys get a chance to elect your very own new Speaker!"

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    4. I don't think the point is that Boehner would have tried to quash this rumor. I think the point is he would have started this rumor. That's usually how these things go. If he hadn't talked about it, nobody else likely would have even really thought about it.

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    5. Apparently, given the news since this thread, I need to admit that I was wrong.

      Missed that one, and not even close.

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  3. That 2% option seems low. Another speaker might be significantly more effective, even with less skill, if outside incentives change and Republican representatives become more willing to compromise and legislate.

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    1. JB: "The assumption here is that Boehner retires after a status quo election, with Republicans picking up a handful of seats in the House."

      The "fun" starts when you start speculating from a different point. For instance, does that last option become more likely with a smaller House Republican Conference?

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  4. Well, let's consider Boehner post-House. Perhaps he is angling for a conservative marketplace gig, or maybe he has some tidy college post already nailed down. Then he might float this idea as a way to let the Tea Party zealots know that they can't touch him...

    Now what might he accomplish as Speaker?

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