Cantor-Boehner Rivalry, Loafers Hold Up a Debt Deal

The rivalry between the top two Republicans is beginning to show

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A long rumored rivalry between the two top Republicans seems to be causing problems at the negotiating table while the president tries to hammer out a debt reduction deal before the August 2 deadline. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor are on opposing sides of the idealogical coin when it comes to debt reduction, and sartorial choices, reports the Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro and Kathleen Hennessey.

Boehner was praised for his early efforts to strike a major deal with the Obama administration that would trim spending from social programs like Medicare and Social Security, but would also close tax loopholes for upper-class Americans. Cantor has hardly swayed from party lines during the negotiation process, favoring a mid-range deal more popular with the rest of "rank-and-file" Republicans. Mascaro and Hennessey describe Boehner as older, wiser and with an "old school cool." Cantor is young, scrappy and has some, "aspirations to occupy the No. 1 spot someday," meaning Boehner's job as Speaker of the house. Also, apparently, Boehner, "mocks Cantor's Italian loafers."

"If there's a popularity contest right now, Cantor wins it," one aide told the Times. "I don't think Boehner would want to serve in a foxhole anytime with Eric Cantor," said another.

Meanwhile, The New York Times' Jackie Calmes reports that the tax increases that Cantor and other house Republicans oppose so much, "should not take effect before 2013 and even then should affect only corporate jet owners, oil companies, millionaires — including [the President] — and billionaires."

Calmes describes President Obama's efforts in the debt meetings as having "made or offered policy compromises on an array of issues and cast himself in the role of the adult referee for both parties’ gamesmanship, or the parent of stubborn children."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.