They'll Compromise -- If Boehner Has His Way, Republicans Will Lead More 'Cautiously': National Journal's Major Garrett conducted a wide-ranging interview with the presumptive House speaker and says that "if given the chance, [he] intends to lead more cautiously and -- significantly -- more slowly, than Gingrich did. He will set no audacious legislative deadlines ... and will enact no radical new technological or procedural reforms." To be able to sell this restrained agenda to an aggressive and eager class of freshmen, Boehner may need to institute a second "pledge" to America. Boehner is also planning to proceed "more slowly and methodically than Republicans did the last time they captured the House in the landslide of 1994." He appears to understand, Garrett writes, that popular opinion and election cycles are "spinning more quickly" than they have in past.
No They Won't -- It's a 'Pleasant Fantasy' to Think GOP Will Be Sensible: Washington Monthly's Steve Benen harbors no illusions that Republicans will be able to restrain themselves when they arrive in power. "Is there any evidence -- any at all -- to support such an assumption? Not only have GOP leaders spent the last two years acting like spoiled children, uninterested in any serious policy work, they've also sent the last two weeks boldly proclaiming their intention to refuse to compromise with anyone about anything. Indeed, the number of Republicans talking about shutting down the government next year is already pretty large, and it's getting bigger."
They'll Get Rid of the Tea Party -- Abandoning Fringe Ideas and Governing Center-Right: In order to please their tea party base, Slate's Jacob Weisberg predicts that "the GOP's congressional leadership will feint right while legislating closer to the center." What makes this prediction plausible is that "the House leaders-in-waiting are, by and large, not an ideological group." Weisberg argues that "the American public likes Republican themes of more liberty and less government better than it likes Democratic themes of compassion and fairness. But when it comes to the specifics, the situation is reversed." This may lead to a Republican Congress legislating to the center.
No They Won't -- Tea Partiers Are Forging Major Partnerships: A team of Wall Street Journal reporters provides a lengthy assessment of the state of the tea party, and concludes that the movement is angling to become a more permanent part of the GOP. While there has been "distrust" between establishment Republicans and tea partiers, they see the "GOP as a good vehicle for their aspirations -- and as GOP establishment candidates were toppled, party leaders came to embrace the tea-party crowd as well. That marriage, at least for now, has aided Republicans." The reporters also observe that many tea party organizations are beginning to form institutions with an eye on influencing policy and financially supporting candidates they agree with. How they handle this transition is the key to the movement's permanence.
The GOP May Compromise and Attempt to Reduce the Deficit: In a Newsweek cover story (which featured Boehner getting the Shepard Fairey treatment), staff editors detail the Republicans' probable efforts to govern in an array of domestic areas (taxes, deficit, health care, climate/energy among them). With regard to lowering the deficit, the writers consider the president's bipartisan fiscal commission as the likeliest route to lowering the deficit: "At that point, the Tea Party-fueled Republican majority will have to decide whether it's willing to countenance a compromise plan that's likely to combine tax increases with spending cuts ... or if the price of debt reduction is simply too steep."
No They Won't: The Deficit Will Be Even Larger: "Republicans won't do much to rein in spending. And if they cut taxes, there won't be enough revenue to fund the budget," figures Cynthia Tucker at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The result is a deficit that may be larger in two years. "The health insurance law will reduce the deficit over 10 years, not add to it, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. But continuing to depress revenues with a huge tax cut for rich Americans will certainly make the deficit larger," she writes.
But, They Probably Won't Win in Four Years: In a Washington Post contribution, Dylan Loewe, a Democratic strategist, notes the silver lining for embattled Democrats: changing voter demographics are on their side (Jonah Goldberg might disagree). "Tea Party Republicans are a dying demographic. Populations are shrinking in the South and in rural areas. Massive growth among Democratic constituencies is expected to be accompanied by static -- and in some cases, declining growth -- within the Republican base. That formula will require the Republican party to change if it wants to stay a majority party. ... Over the long term, what looks like a celebration will be more akin to a wake."