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Tom Cole and his four friends (and counting)

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a staunch conservative and senior House Republican, urged his party this week to take President Obama up on his offer -- pass the tax breaks on all income up to $250,000, and then fight over everything else. On MSNBC yesterday, Chuck Todd asked Cole a good question: how many Republicans have quietly told him they think he's right.

"I'll let other members speak for themselves, and just leave it that," Cole said.

That's not a bad way to dodge the question, but Faiz Shakir has started keeping a running tally of House Republicans willing to say out loud that they, too, would accept Obama's offer on middle-class taxes. So far, the total stands at five: Cole, Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.), Robert Dold (R-Ill.), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), and Charlie Bass (R-N.H.)

That's not many, but it stands to reason there are others who, for a variety of reasons, haven't made public comments, but would also take the deal. Indeed, this Reuters report stood out as pretty interesting yesterday.

Another senior Republican lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters that a Democratic bill, which passed the Senate in July and would raise income taxes on families with net incomes above $250,000, could pass his chamber if it got to the floor.

Another conservative House Republican, Representative Tim Scott, a first-term congressman, said that such a measure "could pass the House," according to Scott's spokesman.

Ordinarily, Boehner's problem is finding ways to get the House to pass a bill Obama will sign. In this case, the House is ready to pass a bill Obama would sign, but Boehner doesn't want to bring it to the floor.

If/when push comes to shove in a few weeks, the Speaker's position is likely to prove untenable.