Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, says things are looking up for House Republicans, more so than when he said in April that the GOP has a 1-in-3 chance of losing the House majority to Democrats this fall.
“I’m feeling better,” Boehner said on Thursday during his weekly news conference, when asked if those odds had improved for his party.
For one thing, explained Boehner, some House Republicans head into their August recess having already been tested in tough primaries and emerging as winners.
Also, Boehner proclaimed that House Republicans can now campaign on the fact the GOP-led House is the only chamber that’s acted to eliminate the threat of the looming military cuts under the defense sequester. He added that Republicans in the House also are the only “group” in town to take steps to stop the tax hike that will come with expiration of the George W. Bush-era tax cuts.
Of course, the reality is that both of those claims gloss over some of the finer details.
In fact, the House Republicans have a defense-spending plan that would pay for a sequestration repeal with cuts to such things as food stamps and Medicaid. However, the White House and congressional Democrats are insisting instead that the cuts must also be replaced with more tax revenue and closure of tax loopholes, a plan Republicans say would be economically damaging and with which they refuse to go along.
On taxes, the Democratic-led Senate has passed an extension of the income-tax cuts for most Americans for another year, but not for the wealthy. But in passing their version on Wednesday that includes those cuts for the higher-end tax cuts, the GOP-led House also defeated the Senate bill. The result is that there is no two-chamber bill to extend the tax cuts.
Still, Boehner said at his news conference about House Republicans: “I feel good where we are as a team.”
It is doubtful, though, that Boehner would publicly acknowledge anything less this time around.
Boehner’s prediction back in April during an interview with Fox News that the GOP had a 1-in-3 chance of losing the House was quickly seized on by Democrats to raise money and whip up more grassroots activity.
In doing so, Boehner pointed to what he suggests are as many as 50 members in his conference who are vulnerable this fall. He noted that 89 Republican freshmen are running for reelection and that “we have 32 districts that are in states where there is not a [competitive] presidential campaign going to be run, no big Senate race, and we call these orphan districts.” Boehner especially pointed to California, Illinois, and New York, states “where we are not likely to do well at the top of the ticket, and those districts are frankly pretty vulnerable.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee even put out a Web video of DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y., telling viewers, “Thanks to you, the House is in play. And even Speaker Boehner says so.”