House Speaker John Boehner has ceded his power to Sen. Ted Cruz, says Democratic strategist Paul Begala, and Cruz might have accomplished more if he had been in Wednesday's 90-minute White House meeting with President Barack Obama.
"They had the wrong people in the room," Begala told CNN. "Negotiating with John Boehner is like negotiating with Kermit the Frog instead of Jim Henson."
Boehner, R-Ohio, has allowed himself to become the puppet of Cruz, R-Texas, and the Tea Party wing of his party, Begala said. "That's where the power is."
Cruz, who took office in January and who is not even in Boehner's house of Congress, has become the face of the GOP effort to defund Obamacare, the president's signature healthcare law. He led a 21-hour talk-a-thon last week from the Senate floor.
Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., at the White House with Obama, but McConnell left without speaking to the press. Boehner, Reid and Pelosi exited with grim words. A White House official told CNN that Obama would not be making a statement.
Speaking of the Tea Party members, Begala said Boehner could "shut them up and shut them down" by going to the House and letting it work its will. Most GOP members don’t want government shut down, he said.
"Someday John Boehner will pull on his big boy pants and take on Ted Cruz and then this thing will be over," Begala said.
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