There aren’t many instances when you get an email from the New York Times at one in the morning on a Saturday night, but when the Speaker of the House is begging for his political opponents to help him, you know something flew over the cuckoo’s nest.
We already knew Johns Boehner was a weak leader, but instead of the Tea Party Republicans using their influence behind closed doors, they are now openly defecting from the person they elected to run the House of Representatives. Eric Cantor didn’t leave Vice President’s Biden’s negotiating table because there was no progress being made. What he said is they have done enough and the final pieces need to be decided by the leaders. Translation: My party isn’t going to like this and if I want to be Speaker in 2014 I can’t have anything to do with it. So he cuts off ties with the guy who is supposed to be his partner. What Cantor is blind to though is that he could become just as weak of a leader as Boehner is if he does ascend to the position.
Does Cantor really think that the same members of the Tea Party in Congress are going to allow him to raise the debt ceiling because he is sucking up to them now? We’re talking about an ideologically challenged minority that has no credible policy wonks on their side. Michael Tanner, Senior Fellow at the conservative CATO Institute, argued that cuts by themselves aren’t going to solve the debt problem. “That is why Republicans should not get hung up on seeking any particular amount of spending cuts. The dollar amount matters far less than getting the structural and institutional changes that will actually bring down the size, cost, and intrusiveness of government in the future.” Of course, the Affordable Care Act did change the structure of Medicare, and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said it would reduce the deficit.
But the Democrats have also been lacking serious leadership as well. So many debates are taking place right now that have no business being debated. From increasing taxes slows job creation, to government spending hurts the economy, none of the Democrats who have an office in the Capitol have said much to tell the American people not to believe it. President Obama holding a press conference the other week was a step in the right direction that put the Republican’s on the defensive, and he needs to do more of them.
One person who chooses her fights wisely though is Nancy Pelosi. When Obama thought about conceding more to the GOP on health care, it was the last Speaker who reminded everyone they are not going to get another chance at it. She has recently been more vocal when the President was again going to cave into Republicans on cutting benefits to the elderly, the lefts best talking point since the House passed Representative Ryan’s budget. Now that Boehner needs her help, she’s already gotten him to halve the amounts of cuts he was originally asking for.
Boehner knows his colleagues aren’t going to be supporting him on the debt ceiling, it’s going to be up the real leader in Congress to make sure America doesn’t default on its debt.