House Speaker John Boehner and the Republicans in the House are now in a bind. Despite their reluctance to compromise, the Republicans have little in the way of negotiating power. If they try to hold the debt ceiling hostage, President Barack Obama will just waltz right over it on the basis of the 14th Amendment. If they try to hold the middle class tax rates hostage, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will force the issue, and could win. If they try to walk away from the negotiations, they will get slaughtered in two years because they will get the blame for the recession, not Obama.
Simply put, the Republicans are in a terrible position. They forced this situation on the belief that they would be the ones to be validated in November’s election. Instead, their Presidential candidate was slaughtered and they lost ground in the Senate despite going up against several Democrats who were considered vulnerable. They even lost ground in the House despite doing their best to rig the elections.
This leaves the Republicans with very little in the way of leverage.
The problem is Boehner himself. He is in a bad situation. Should he negotiate in any serious manner, he risks being overthrown from within his own party. If he does not, he risks destroying the Republican Party because it could actually become conceivable that some of the Republicans currently in the House would walk away from the Party if the nation goes over the cliff.
It is a situation not dissimilar to that which occurs over same-sex marriage. Marriage equality is going to happen no matter what the religious establishment may want to believe. The longer the battle goes on, the more pain and anger occurs. If they sit down in good faith and we work together to get what we both want- protection for them from lawsuits, civil marriage rights for us- then things do not become so rancorous. The problem is, of course, that compromise means giving up power, and most religious groups do not want to give up power. Thus, they feel that they will remain inflexible even if it means destroying everything they have built. This is part of why the Catholic Church is rapidly coming to the point of being irrelevant in New England and a few other places in the US.
Boehner has a choice, but it is not a very nice one. Unfortunately for him, the time to get something- anything- for his side is now because soon there won’t be anything he can walk away with and say was a victory.