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The Weakest Speaker?

by Stuart Shapiro

There are two types of Speakers of the House.  There are those who lead their caucuses and become symbols of derision for their opponents.  Nancy Pelosi and Newt Gingrich fall in this category.  Then there are managers like Dennis Hastert who follow their caucuses rather than lead them.  I thought John Boehner would fall in the latter group but he has a problem faced by few previous speakers:

As House Republicans battled their GOP counterparts in the Senate this week, they remained perplexed by the split in their own leadership.

According to various media reports based on a readout from a “source on the call,” Boehner, Cole and Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) praised the two-month deal Saturday, while Cantor, House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and House GOP conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas) sided with the freshmen in ardent opposition.

Boehner has a number two who desperately wants his job.  As described before, Cantor will happily undermine his nominal boss to advance his own prospects.  If the Republicans gain seats next November, Boehner is probably safe.  If they lose their majority, Cantor will almost certainly become Minority Leader.  However if the most likely outcome occurs, Republicans lose seats but hold the majority, then there may be a battle royale for the Speaker’s gavel.

About Stuart Shapiro

Stuart Shapiro Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels. Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush.

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