Is House Speaker John A. Boehner hero or villain? Depends on who's talking. The fiscal cliff has generated a tale of two Boehners as the deadline for a compromise between Mr. Boehner and President Obama nears. An anonymous conservative, for example, told the National Review that an understanding House GOP caucus backs Mr. Boehner. "There is no revolt, no coup. Boehner is going to compromise, but people recognize that he's in a tough spot," the unnamed Republican lawmaker said.
American Majority Action, a conservative interest group, has a different take altogether.
"Don't go wobbly on us now, Speaker Boehner. If GOP House members cave on raising taxes, conservative grass-roots activists won't forget about it during the next elections," warns Ned Ryun, president of the organization, noting that Mr. Boehner's proposal offers a "meager" $1 trillion reduction in the growth of government over the next 10 years.
"Worse, Boehner's tax increase includes not only a rate increase for high-income earners but also a draconian capping of the charitable deduction," he adds.
"Targeting charities, demonizing job-creators and ignoring our debt problem is what the conservative movement expects of Democrats, not House Republican leadership," spokesman Ron Meyer observes. "President Reagan famously said, 'To the tax increasers: Go ahead. Make my day.' Well, Mr. Speaker, make our day."
RON PAUL RISING
Forget about the presidential inauguration. The American Conservative Union has revealed a few preliminary plans for the 40th annual Conservative Political Action Conference, the gathering that is a cheerful but intense barometer for the conservative movement. It attracts big names, big media, thought leaders, slick operatives, pollsters, activists, loyal traditionalists and aggressive young Turks who will be delighted to know that Rep. Ron Paul is among the invited celebrity speakers.
Besides the Texas Republican, the roster also includes Jeb Bush, Senator-elect Ted Cruz of Texas, outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Reps. Paul Ryan and Tim Scott, senator designate, and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
The events are scheduled for mid-March at the dramatic Gaylord National Resort on the shores of the Potomac River. Organizers advise that discounts will be available until Jan. 1; find frequently updated details here: conservative.org/cpac2013.
THE VALUE OF LIFE
"I don't think it's about more gun control. I grew up in the South with guns everywhere and we never shot anyone. This [shooting] is about people who aren't taught the value of life. I don't think movies or video games have anything to do with it."
— Samuel L. Jackson, who appears in the upcoming revenge fantasy film "Django Unchained," on the Newtown, Conn., shootings, to the Los Angeles Times.
TWO MORE TAKES
"Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting. The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again," reads the official statement from the National Rifle Association on the Newtown shootings, issued Wednesday.
There was also news from a different source:
"As we reflect on the lives lost last week, we must also, as the President urged, consider how each of us can play a part in making our country worthy of the memory of those little children."
That came from White House adviser David Axelrod, in an email referring recipients to my.barackobama.com/Newtown, a campaign site that includes a donation function for President Obama "for the next four years."
"If ObamaCare is such a great idea, why are so many governors — including several Democrats — refusing to play along? What do they know that the administration isn't telling the rest of us? So far, not one part of ObamaCare has worked as planned. Almost immediately, the administration had to distribute huge numbers of waivers to companies because its initial rules would have forced them to drop their low-cost plans," points out an Investor's Business Daily editorial.
"ObamaCare's high-risk pools promised to cover hundreds of thousands, but ended up attracting almost no one. The small-business tax break has been a complete bust. Insurance premiums are already spiking. And now states are in open revolt against two key elements of the law. Under ObamaCare, states were supposed to agree to set up so-called insurance exchanges — which would act as a clearinghouse for government-approved health plans and distribute the insurance subsidies included in the law.
"But just 18 states have agreed to build them. The rest — which include eight run by Democratic governors -- are leaving it to the federal government to do the dirty work of setting up these massively complicated exchanges. That's a remarkable vote of no confidence on a central element of ObamaCare, and one that's caught the White House completely by surprise."
POLL DU JOUR
• 68 percent of Americans overall say it is "unacceptable" to cut funds to Medicaid to avoid the "fiscal cliff"; 50 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of conservatives, 85 percent of Democrats and 85 percent of liberals agree.
• 55 percent overall say it's unacceptable to cut funds to the military; 76 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of conservatives, 42 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of liberals agree.
• 24 percent overall say it is unacceptable to raise taxes on people with annual incomes more than $250,000; 47 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of conservatives, 10 percent of Democrats and 12 percent of liberals agree.
• 56 percent overall say President Obama should compromise with Congressional Republicans over fiscal cliff negotiations.
• 34 percent say Mr. Obama has a mandate to carry out his agenda presented during the presidential campaign.
Source: An ABC News/Washington Post poll of 1,002 U.S. adults conducted Dec. 13 to 16.
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