Republican elites have been pushing the party to moderate its image in order to stave off losses as the national electorate becomes increasingly diverse. But all the preening is unlikely to amount to substantive change. Sure, Republicans can talk about softening their tone against undocumented workers, or agree to hypothetical tax hikes, but when it comes down to it, they are still indebted to the right-wing base.
Since President Obama unveiled his proposal for the fiscal cliff last week, Republicans have been complaining that it’s nothing new. “After the election, I offered to speed this up by putting revenue on the table and unfortunately, the White House responded with their la-la land offer that couldn’t pass the House, couldn’t pass the Senate, and it was basically the president’s budget from last February,” House Majority Leader John Boehner told reporters this afternoon.
As such, there’s been some anticipation about what Republicans would offer. If the GOP is so opposed to old ideas, then surely they’d come up with something new and exciting to break the impasse over the fiscal cliff?
Mitt Romney has been as elusive as Bigfoot since he lost three weeks ago, blurry photos and all. But on Thursday he emerged from the shadows. After six long years of running for president, Romney finally waltzed into the Oval Office to lunch with re-elected President Obama. Over white turkey chili and Southwestern chicken salad, the two former opponents spoke for an hour. According to a press release from the White House, they discussed "America's leadership in the world and the importance of maintaining that leadership position in the future." And, like true frenemies, "they pledged to stay in touch."
Republicans might deny most forms of science, but after this past election, they at least recognize polling realities. The demographic trajectory of the country spells doom for the GOP in future national elections, unless they figure out a way to buck the trend and appeal to groups beyond white voters. For now, the new emerging majority strongly favors Democrats. Young voters? Check. Among voters under the age of 30, Obama won 60-37 percent. Hispanics? Voted for Obama 71-27 percent and turned out in record numbers. As South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham described his party's predicament earlier this year, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
It’s gone under the radar, but Politico reported this morning that, after a private request from President Obama to raise the debt ceiling, House Speaker John Boehner responded with a (not so) veiled demand.
“There is a price for everything.”
Sure, but that doesn’t mean you always have to pay it. Unlike last year, when he needed House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling—lest the United States fall into a second recession—Obama has all the leverage in this situation. If he does nothing, taxes on the rich return to their Clinton-era levels, and Republicans will have to negotiate from an unfavorable baseline.