The election for change seems to have brought us some semblance of the status quo in the form of an Obama White House, a Democrat-controlled Senate, and GOP majority in the House. But will the status quo extend to the gridlock we saw in the 112th Congress?
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, in an address on Wednesday said that Tuesday’s election showed a mandate by the U.S. people for Congress “to find a way to work together on the solutions to the challenges that we all face as a nation.” Prior to Boehner’s comments, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell was on The Cycle discussing whether he thought bipartisanship was possible in this 113th Congress, and he seemed optimistic. To him, the mix of a “crisis environment” with the looming fiscal cliff and the fact that President Barack Obama will be in his second term and have more freedom to lead will create a “real opportunity to get something done.” The governor continued:
“[Obama] can lead, he can come to the middle by saying to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, ‘look, I’m for significant entitlement reform but there has to be revenues with it, guys. Let’s go.’ And if he leads and he goes public with a plan and the Republicans torpedo that plan and refuse to raise revenue, then I think they’re gonna face political extinction in the next election because Americans want these problems taken care of.”
It would seem that Speaker Boehner feels similarly. In his press conference, the Ohio Republican said that while we face “tremendous challenges” in the looming fiscal cliff, the decision to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, and reforms to the tax code and entitlements, we also have a “great opportunity” in these obstacles. While acknowledging these solutions would not be easy, Boehner said:
“The people didn’t give us a mandate to do the simple thing. They elected us to lead. They gave us a mandate to work together for our country and we know what the best thing to do would be: that would be an agreement that sends the signal to our economy, and to the world, that after years of punting on the major fiscal challenges that we face, 2013 is going to be different.”
Boehner offered some specifics as to how. The Republicans in the House will seek a “fairer, simpler, cleaner tax code.” And on issue of tax reform he cited the 1986 tax reforms done by Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic Speaker Tip O’Neil showing that it has been done before, and can be done again. Boehner also said that he would seek to make fiscal structural changes to entitlement spending, as well as curb special interest loopholes and deductions in the tax code in an effort to increase revenue.
In response, Gov. Rendell said that he approved of a lot of what Boehner said – adding that “we do need a balanced approach” to reducing spending and entitlement reform, but that “we also need to cut the military budget.”
“Mr. President,” Speaker Boehner said, “The majority stands to work with you to do what’s best for our country.”
That’s a far cry from the number one priority of keeping the president to one term. And we can only hope it stays that way.