News / USA

Analysts: Boehner-Obama Clash Likely

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio celebrates the GOP's victory that changes the balance of power in Congress and will likely elevate him to speaker of the House, during an election night gathering hosted by the National Republican Congressional
House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio celebrates the GOP's victory that changes the balance of power in Congress and will likely elevate him to speaker of the House, during an election night gathering hosted by the National Republican Congressional

Sweeping Republican Party victories in Tuesday's U.S. midterm elections will enable the party to take majority control of the House of Representatives away from Democrats when the new Congress convenes in in January.  Republican minority leader John Boehner is expected to become the new Speaker of the House.  Analysts say Boehner will be one of the most powerful and public faces of the conservative challenge to President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress.

Humble beginnings

In his official congressional biography, Republican Representative John Boehner describes himself as a "straight-shooting and relentless advocate for freedom and security."

The 60-year-old former businessman often reminds voters of his humble origins.  He was born in the midwestern city of Cincinnati, Ohio and was one of 12 brothers and sisters who grew up helping his father run a neighborhood bar.

Boehner told the story in an emotional victory speech on Tuesday night after winning re-election to Congress.

"I have spent my whole life chasing the American dream," an emotional Boehner told the crowd. "All right.  Listen, I bet a lot of you know I started out mopping floors, waiting tables and tending bar at my dad's tavern."

After graduating from college, Boehner worked in the plastics industry and served in the Ohio state legislature, before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990.  

Congressional accomplishments

In Congress, Boehner helped craft what was called the "Contract with America" championed by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  In 1994, Gingrich waged a battle to limit government spending with Democratic President Bill Clinton that forced a temporary shutdown of the federal government.  Analysts say the episode hurt Gingrich and his fellow Republicans.  And Bill Clinton was re-elected president two years later.

Political analyst Larry Sabato says Boehner should learn from that experience and from the highly partisan leadership style of current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I think if Boehner is smart, he will learn from the Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi disasters and keep as low a profile as he can," Sabato said. " We will see how smart he is.  He is said to be very clever.  If he is smart, then he will resist the celebrity that comes with this position."

Republicans who know Boehner describe him as more of a behind-the-scenes tactician than a visionary leader like Gingrich.

Give and take

Congressional Quarterly Weekly magazine Managing Editor David Hawkings says Boehner is a compromiser.  

"It was John Boehner who worked with [the late Massachusetts Democratic Senator] Ted Kennedy, and [California Democratic Representative] George Miller and [former Republican President] George W. Bush 10 years ago to get the large education overhaul known as "No Child Left Behind," which is one of the signature bipartisan achievements in recent years.  John Boehner knows how to cut a deal.  But he will be under terrific pressure not to cut any deals from the new and very angry freshmen Republicans who are coming in under his wing."

Political analyst Larry Sabato agrees that Boehner's expected House speakership will likely be very difficult because of the newly-elected so-called Tea Party Republicans who are calling for a more limited role for government, low taxes and a stronger military.

"John Boehner will have his hands full just keeping his Republican caucus together," Sabato said.  "There is a significant split between mainstream Republicans and Tea Party Republicans.  And his difficulty is going to be that the Senate is controlled by Democrats and the White House is controlled by Democrats.  It is difficult to think of a single major piece of legislation he can get through the House that will make it through the Senate or that will be signed by President Obama."

Republican message

During his victory speech, John Boehner addressed what he sees as the message of Tuesday's Republican victories for President Obama.

"While our new majority will serve as your voice in the people's house, we must remember it is the president who sets the agenda for our government," he said. "The American people have sent an unmistakable message to him tonight.  And that message is 'Change Course!'"

Obama reaction

In a news conference on Wednesday, President Obama said he is willing to work with Republicans to improve economic conditions for average Americans, who are frustrated at the pace of change.

But Larry Sabato is skeptical that the president and Boehner will be able to find common ground.

"There will be a lot of happy talk for the next couple of weeks.  Wise people won't believe a bit of it," he said.  "We have the most polarized political parties in modern times.  They have almost nothing in common; they don't believe in the same things; they don't overlap enough to come up with legislation that is compromise."

Analysts says that as the presumptive next House Speaker, John Boehner appears to be on a collision course with the president and Democrats on extending Bush era tax cuts, on raising the federal debt ceiling and on a desire by many Republicans to dismantle President Obama's landmark health care reform legislation.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs