The Business On... John Boehner, House Speaker

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The Independent Online

Can you pronounce that, please?

It's BAY-NOR, thanks for asking. He is the Republican congressman from Ohio who was elected Speaker after his party swamped Democrats to retake control of the House of Representatives last November. That makes him the most powerful Republican in Washington, and two heartbeats from the presidency. So like it or not, he takes the seat on the other side of the table from President Barack Obama to try to find a deal that will both authorise an increase in America's borrowing limit and kick off a serious effort to tame the country's spending habits.

He's a weeper, isn't he?

He does have a reputation for blubbing at the slightest provocation. Most famously he dissolved during an interview on 60 Minutes, the current affairs show, last year. "I wear my emotions on my sleeve," he said in his own defence recently. "I'm not going to apologise for being emotionally attached to the things I feel most strongly about." These negotiations would be enough to send anyone over the edge. But Boehner wouldn't be House Speaker if he wasn't smart and serious, of course,

Is he one of those "right-wing nutters" that Vince Cable warned us about?

He has shown more of a willingness to compromise than others in his party, and it's done him no favours with his conservative wing.

He might even lose his job?

Not in the immediate term, but an internal poll among the Tea Party Patriots, the biggest group in the Tea Party movement, released yesterday showed that a stunning 81.5 per cent are not satisfied with the Republican leadership at present, and when asked whether it was time to find a new Speaker, nearly three-quarters seemed to think so.

Why is Boehner opposed to raising taxes to increase revenue?

Ostensibly because he believes that any increase in taxes, including on big corporations, would damage the faltering economic recovery. Really it's about politics and the absolute aversion among the Tea Party crowd to any kind of tax increase and their desire to see government emasculated. Never mind that polls increasingly show that most Americans think some kind of tax increase would make sense in this crisis.