The Norman Transcript

Columns

December 31, 2013

Fair, reasonable politics unlikely

(Continued)

WASHNGTON —

There are some signs, however, that the stranglehold that a relative few hard-nosed ideologues have had on the Republican caucus, particularly in the House, has been loosened by GOP leadership apparently tired of being portrayed as puppets and cowards and obstructionists held hostage at the expense of rational government. That includes House Speaker John Boehner.

Boehner has made it clear he is weary of the allegations and has served notice on the outside groups that he is the master of the House, or caucus if one prefers. It doesn’t mean, however, that he has given up his conservative credentials or his understanding that he owes allegiance to long-standing conservative principles, merely that he is more willing to practice the art of compromise rather than being bullied into stances that are not compatible with winning.

The new year, on the other hand, will see several of the Senate’s tea party heroes like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas preparing for a potential entry into the presidential sweepstakes of 2016. Will they effectively compete with Gov. Chris Christi of New Jersey or Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the budget man who was Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012? Perhaps in the primary states but even that speculation is premature at this early date. Let’s just say there will be considerable movement that will escalate once next November’s balloting is finished.

Meanwhile, what’s on the table for 2014? The answer is the same panoply of issues that have occupied the past year — immigration, sequestration, the debt ceiling, Afghanistan troop withdrawal and so forth. The focus is likely to shift on reforming rather than annihilating the health reform act.

Just too many Americans already are beginning to benefit from having some sort of insurance protection to do away with it despite the awkwardness and embarrassment of the roll out. Some Republicans counsel that it would be better for the party to lead the charge to try to correct the flaws. Others contend that such a move would play into the hands of Democrats who would claim overall credit for the program.

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