There go my men and I must follow as I am their leader. — John Boehner
Speaker of the House John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) did not actually say those words, or at least there is no record of it. But it seems to be his motto. He has demonstrated little to no control over his party in the House of Representatives. The latest lack of leadership revolves around the upcoming end of the fiscal year and the need to fund the government or shut it down. Right behind that by about three weeks we will face default on our national debt if the debt ceiling is not raised. This development seems to be yet another impending manufactured crisis in the continuing efforts of about forty right-wing Republican Representatives determined to destroy our national economy if they do not get their way. “Looking out for the middle class” indeed.
Speaker Boehner understood that the legislation passed in the House yesterday is not the way to make sure that the government continues to operate effectively. He knows that the Senate and the President will never go along with his plan to delay and/or de-fund the Affordable Health Care Act otherwise known as “Obamacare.” He tried to maneuver legislation that will give the malcontents a chance to vote once again to eliminate Obamacare but in a way that the Senate could then easily overcome and everyone could move on. But no, that wasn’t good enough for those trying to hijack our country and so Speaker Boehner backed down and moved legislation nearly guaranteed to keep us tied up in knots once again. He even pretends now that it is a good idea.
There are several things to remember about this “fight” as they call it. First of all It is a manufactured crisis. The Affordable Care Act is duly passed legislation found Constitutional by the Supreme Court (with five of the Justices avowed conservatives) and a national election where Obamacare was a primary issue. In case nobody noticed, President Obama was re-elected and the Democrats retained the Senate. Let me put a finer point on that. The president was re-elected in a national election. Any member of Congress, including the Speaker, was only elected by a small fraction of the electorate. On top of that, the House has voted at least forty times (almost too many to count) to repeal, defund, delay or otherwise disrupt the legislation. This they have time for but they cannot seem to find the time for getting on with the business of actually running the country. Throw on top of that the refusal to consider other significant pieces of legislation passed in the Senate with bipartisan support and they really do have a terrible track record. I suppose that the only thing that matters is that they demonstrate their commitment to obstructing the Obama administration at every turn whether or not it is a good idea and whether or not it hurts the majority of Americans.
Oh, and by the way, the bill they passed is only a continuing resolution to mid-December. There will still be no 2014 budget or appropriations. They “need more time.” This after being on vacation for five weeks in August and September and coming after several attempts by the president in the spring to work with Republicans to avert a crisis and to get things moving again.
Oh, and by the way, sequestration remains in force under their continuing resolution which all agree is not the way to reign in government spending.
Speaker Boehner spoke of “victory” after the vote. The only “victory” was by the recalcitrant gang of forty and their allies outside the government such as Heritage Action for America and the Club for Growth that have intimidated moderate Republicans in the House. I could go on about the growth industry supported by these groups and the immense amounts of money that come their way when the conflict continues, but that will be a post for another day. I will merely say that they have no real interest in resolving these issues because that’s what they thrive on.
Not-with-standing the real politics behind the scenes, and I do understand how a Speaker of the House gets elected by the majority party, there should still be an occassional reminder to Speaker Boehner that he is Speaker for the entire country, not just a radical wing of his party.
I am also tired of these guys (and a few gals) who claim to speak for all Americans. As the Speaker said, “We had a victory for the American people, and frankly we also had a victory for common sense. Our message to the United States Senate is real simple. The American people don’t want the government shut down and they don’t want Obamacare.” Well, maybe he got it half right as most of us do not want the government to shut down. Note that he says the “American people” meaning every American. Not “most Americans” or “many Americans” or even “my constituents that are Americans” or any other modifier. Every American. How dare he or anyone else say that? How conceited to think that he or his party speaks for every American. He may mean those that voted for him and that’s legitimate, but the facts just do not support the assertion that everyone wants Obamacare eliminated. Note also that they have not proposed any replacement for bringing health care to those that need it. Just get rid of what was passed three years ago.
This is outrageous to me. Saner minds, including I’m sure Speaker Boehner, must know that their bill will go exactly nowhere. However, it is not clear to me how this will get resolved. If the malcontents do not get their way on the continuing resolution (an actual spending bill by 30 September is now out of the question) they have threatened to default on the national debt. Thanks guys, I’m sure that will help the economy to recover.
Oh, and by the way, raising the debt limit is required to pay our nation’s bills. Bills that we are already committed to based on legislation already passed in the House and Senate. This is not new spending. It’s paying the existing bills.
To be clear, I do think that we should take a hard look at spending, programs and where government can be trimmed or modified or improved. Likewise I’m sure that there are ways to improve the Affordable Care Act and that there will be blips along the way that need to be rectified. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs have been improved through bipartisan efforts. It should be the same for this program and for government spending on the whole.
There is no moral equivalency here. Suggestions to compromise fall on deaf ears because there is nothing to compromise about. The hostage takers will not negotiate or compromise. I understand that Democrats don’t get everything right. The president doesn’t get everything right. Not all Republicans are trying to bring down the government. There are some good people on both sides of the aisle that could fix some of these issues in a meaningful way. It is not happening because of the group of Republican crazies in the House (and lately two or three in the Senate). No one will stand up to them from within their own party for fear of losing their job. From where I sit, those people may as well lose their job because they are not doing it. If they are unwilling to stand up for what they believe to be right, then they should leave.
To me Speaker Boehner has decided that it is more important to remain as Speaker of the House than to do the right thing (he wouldn’t lose his seat in the Congress as he is popular in his home district). He could have put forward a bill to solve the “budget crisis” that would have passed with bipartisan support. But he also knew that those in his party that want to hold the country hostage would probably have brought him down as Speaker.
Here is what will probably happen, although increasingly I am finding that I should get out of making predictions. But, I will give it a try anyway.
The Senate will pass a bill that is a continuing resolution that keeps spending at about current levels but that will try to move some money around to lessen the impact of the sequestration. A few Republican Senators will try to derail it. This slows down the process so that the bill passes with only two or three days until the deadline and then goes back to the House. Another round of publicity speeches will take place as they continue to rant against Obamacare and the administration. This will further slow down the process so that the “compromise” that passes the House and Senate sometime early on the morning of 1 October will be the spending levels that we have now including sequestration. It will be temporary so that we can do all of this again in late December or early January.
All concerned will take a break for about one day and then the hostage taking will continue anew over raising the debt ceiling.
How long do we have to put up with this?