(Photo: Reuters/Yuri Gripas)
WASHINGTON – It isn't often that President Obama and the Tea Party agree, but both are predicting that House Speaker John Boehner will convince his troops to go along with raising taxes on America's most productive households – namely those making over $250,000 annually.
"I'm pretty confident that Republicans would not hold middle class taxes hostage to trying to protect tax cuts for high-income individuals," Obama said Tuesday in an interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters.
Joining the president in predicting – at least in part – to how Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) will fall when the dust settles is Tea Party Nation leader Judson Phillips.
"They are doing everything wrong and nothing right," Phillips told The Christian Post outside of the Capitol late Tuesday. "Unfortunately – and I would like to be wrong – but I see Boehner getting ready to wave his freshly laundered white flag."
After President Obama won his first term in 2008, fiscal conservatives, frustrated with what they felt was the lack of a concerted effort to fight liberal spending policies, including a growing federal deficit under President George W. Bush, began growing restless.
But it wasn't until 2010 that a handful of Tea Party groups had expanded to the point they were able to help Republican candidates win enough seats to hand the GOP their first majority in several years. Yet after two years and a stinging presidential loss in November, Tea Party leaders are frustrated and Speaker Boehner is the top person to blame.
"I've been in the Tea Party since February of 2009," said Phillips. "Given where we are today, I'm starting to ask why we even bothered. Most Tea Party people I know never cared much for Boehner because we feel he has no backbone and his unwilling to stand toe-to-toe with the president."
"House leaders need to understand they are undermining and destroying the base of the GOP, plus there are losing the support of many rank-and-file conservatives in the House.
While rank-and-file Republican lawmakers are also frustrated at the lack of progress, many place the blame for the nation's fiscal woes squarely at the feet of President Obama. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.), who just won a second term, believes the White House is prepared to employ hardball tactics to increase taxes at the expense of the American people.
"I heard this a million times before I came to Washington, but I will flat out tell you we have a spending problem and not a revenue problem," Fincher told CP between meetings in his House office on Wednesday. "I'm not prepared to vote for increased spending, especially if there is no solid proposal to reduce spending on out-of-control social programs. It's not good for my district or the nation as a whole."
Yet despite his frustration, Fincher believes the House leadership team is doing the best they can with little help from GOP leaders in the Senate.
"Speaker Boehner is taking a lot of heat now and I understand the frustration of the American public," he said. "I talk to my Senators weekly and they too are frustrated with where we are today. But we're committed to upholding fiscal discipline."
President Obama has insisted on raising taxes on families making $250,000 or more and is calling on Congress to give him unlimited authority to raise the debt ceiling, which conservatives say is tantamount to handing the president a pile of blank checks.
Republicans, on the other hand, are asking for cuts in spending, including cutting the growth of such coveted entitlement programs as Social Security and Medicare, seen as the largest culprit of deficit spending.
While no plan to cut the deficit other than increased taxes has been put forth by the White House, Obama maintains he is prepared to reduce spending down the road.
"If the Republicans can move on that [taxes] then we are prepared to do some tough things on the spending side," Obama said. "Taxes are going to go up one way or another. And I think the key is that taxes go up on high-end individuals."
However, if taxes are increased it won't be because Phillips and his counterparts are not working to encourage conservatives to stay focused on spending reform.
"The American people sent fiscally minded people to Washington to make a difference and elect party leaders that will do the same. My confidence in Boehner may not be high right now but I am hoping to be proved wrong and that I am not right and paying more taxes than I am today."