Or, more precisely, what Obama has to deal with: the "hell no" caucus.
Meet freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), one of the newest member of House Speaker John Boehner's caucus, who was singled out and bankrolled by the Club for Growth in his competitive primary, allowing him an easy general election victory in this deeply Republican district.
In an interview in his still-bare office a few hours before being sworn in, Cotton told us he would have voted against both Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” tax on millionaires, and the final tax hike that got the country off the fiscal cliff. He vowed to vote against raising the debt limit in two months, absent the sort of massive cuts the president opposes.
… There is zero chance he will vote for any new gun laws. And he sees a need to deal with immigration — but in small steps that avoid granting legal status or citizenship to people here illegally.
To much of the country, Cotton is nothing more than a straight, Southern, white, male, “radical” conservative—a befuddling relic of a fading slice of politics. But in Washington, he is the Republican Congress. Only through understanding lawmakers like him can you understand why the grand bargain collapsed, why raising the debt limit is not a given and why Boehner has vowed to quit for good his private chats with President Barack Obama, and instead invest more power in the Tom Cottons of the world.
It is also the key to understanding the futility of negotiating with and of conceding anything to House Republicans. If Boehner truly has decided that he's throwing his lot in with the nihilists, there's no point in negotiating in the coming fight over the debt ceiling and the delayed sequester. The options for Obama are using the trillion dollar platinum coin or the 14th amendment to avert the debt ceiling, and going over the second fiscal cliff, letting the spending cuts kick in.
Because this is what you're dealing with: Cotton, an Iraq and Afghanistan veteran, thinks that "the evidence is inconclusive" on whether Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. There's no working with that. The only option is circumventing the House on the big stuff, and in doing so, defeating them.
It's going to be a tough second term.