How Tea Party Absolutism Cost the GOP a Huge Win on Entitlements
The GOP’s long-held dream of slashing the retirement safety net faded this week.
Back in the summer of 2011, Republicans had it within their grasp. A dejected President Barack Obama placed the crown jewels of liberalism on the chopping block, offering Republicans hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits.
House Speaker John Boehner wanted to seal the so-called grand bargain, and was willing to reciprocate with the $800 billion in new tax revenues that the president sought in return. Democratic leaders were grudgingly willing to support Obama on what they feared was a lopsided deal for conservatives.
But the Ohio Republican, facing a tea party mutiny that threatened his Speakership, and loyalty issues within his own leadership team, was forced to walk away from the table. By many accounts, he was eager to make it happen, but the pressure from the anti-tax tea party movement was too strong to overcome. And so the deal was dead, never to be resurrected.