Boehner Keeps GOP Honest in Fiscal Cliff Debate

Tickers in this article: ^DJI ^GSPC ^IXIC

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) appears to be in control of his party for once.

Whereas so-called tea party members of the Republican Party hijacked Boehner's negotiation swagger in the summer 2011 standoff over the U.S. government debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff debate has seen the GOP head remain on message without great division within his party.

The speaker addressed the House of Representatives from the floor on Tuesday and reiterated his commitment to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff -- when tax relief measures and deep spending cuts will automatically go into effect. But he stuck to his call for President Barack Obama to specify what spending cuts he would propose to implement in a balanced approach to the budget.

"By using the House floor as a forum, he doesn't run into the risk of getting questions that may throw the message off track," said Alan Gayle, senior strategist at RidgeWorth Investments.

Obama repeatedly has called for a "balanced approach" to avoid the fiscal cliff, and has said that he understands Democrats may have to acquiesce to tough cuts. But the president also has steadfastly defended his plan to raise income taxes on the top 2% of earners in the United States.

Republicans have stuck to the message that they wouldn't raise taxes on any citizens. The GOP approach for revenue has been to close loopholes and put a cap on deductions.

Boehner's appearance on Tuesday did not necessarily suggest a stall in talks; instead, it simply may be that he wants the president to make the first move on spending cuts.

"I think the way the Republicans want to position it is they've already come up with some revenue enhancements and some ideas to cut deductions and the like that will raise revenue; they're looking for the Democrats to do their difficult work, which is to cut spending," said Gayle.

The White House emailed reporters early Tuesday afternoon that White House Press Secretary Jay Carney would hold a press briefing at 1:45 p.m. EST. It is likely that reporters will press Carney for a response to Boehner's call for spending cuts, if Carney doesn't come prepared with a statement from the White House.

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

>Contact by Email.