Category Archives: John Boehner

Congress is Full of Debt

Newt Gingrich compared getting members of Congress to vote your way was like herding cats. They are small, quick, and can scratch. Tonight, John Boehner has a big slash right down his face which will leave a permanent scar on his tenure as speaker.

Americans are already fed up with what they have seen these past three weeks, but this brings it to an entirely new level. It is one thing if politicians can’t decide what to do and are debating the issues, but Congress isn’t fooling anyone by calling this a debate. The more appropriate term might be a pissing contest. When John Boehner can’t get his own plan through the body he is supposed to be leading, it shows the American people we have the wrong people in office.

The members of Congress who consider themselves members of the Tea Party would have been better off voting for Boehner’s plan. They won in part because of a low turnout, but the antics they have put on are irresponsible. No matter what they say on the campaign trail it won’t stop voters from realizing these guys are nuts. If they were serious about staying in office they would realize more people, independents, will be voting in the next election. Not only can they not tell them one good thing that has come about since they took over the House, but they can’t say they have accomplished anything at all.

Because of their ideologically driven agenda, the Tea Party is willing to risk America defaulting on its loans. Once it was announced Congress won’t even be holding a vote tonight, the price of credit default swaps on US treasuries was at its highest point since the 2008 financial crisis. That means people on Wall Street and around the world are losing confidence in Congress (ie America) causing the markets to fall even more. But that’s just in the short term. If a default does happen students loans, mortgage rates, and America’s debt (which, of course, the Tea Party says it wants to lower) will grow exponentially.

Even if Boehner passes what he says is his plan, it won’t matter to the American people. He overplayed his hand, and whether he gets a deal tonight or not, he will become just the second Speaker in history who only served one term.

I’m not going to say Boehner’s job is easy. Getting votes for controversial legislation never is. But, somehow, sixty-two other Speakers have managed to get it done. We’re talking about Sam Rayburn dealing with Dwight Eisenhower, Newt Gingrich dealing with Bill Clinton, and obviously it wasn’t easy for Nancy Pelosi to deal with Blue Dog Democrats when the health care debate was going on. There are always challenges and you have to figure out a way to work around it. Speaker Boehner walked away from that challenge when he told President Obama he was leaving the negotiations they were having.

John Boehner should realize his speakership is over and figure out a way to avoid the possible, ever more likely default. If there was a tie for who had more mud on their face these past couple of weeks, Republicans just fell into the puddle. Their whole body is covered in it, but unfortunately we still have another year of these guys in office.

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Filed under Congress, debt ceiling, John Boehner

Boehner’s Pork

If you are arguing with your friends about how John Boehner doesn’t wield much power, here’s some ammunition. When the Republican’s took control of the House of Representatives last year, Speaker Boehner said he would put an end to all earmarks. Well, guess what? Lawmakers found a loophole for their own rule.

Instead of directly asking money from a committee, the committee members have set aside money for lawmakers where they can request money to be allocated for their district. Walter Pincus reported that the House Armed Services Committee reserved one billion dollars (that’s twenty zeros) for what has been dubbed the Mission Force Enhancement Fund (MFEF). In this Fund, members of Congress could request money for projects in their districts through the appropriate federal agency within the Defense Department. Ironically, or maybe not, even before the bill could be passed half of the money within MFEF was already allocated for members who sit on the House Armed Services Committee.

This proves two things. First, Speaker Boehner can’t handle his job. You don’t run on reducing the deficit and the size of government, then allow your members to spite you on those very issues. In the 90’s Tom Delay threatened to remove members of his own caucus of their chairmanship if he didn’t like what they were doing. If Boehner had the same control like The Hammer once did, the Committee chairs would be afraid of applying this run around.

Second, the Tea Party doesn’t have as much influence as they like to believe. If members really cared about reducing the deficit and America’s debt, they wouldn’t take place in this practice. Instead, Freshman members like Congressman Joe Heck walk a tight line between getting the funds their district needs, and making sure they don’t get a primary challenge for doing so. Congressman Heck, who is a member of the Armed Services Committee, realizes if a terrorist attack does occur in the high tourist area of Las Vegas, it could be detrimental to the local economy. As someone who recently went there for the first time (I broke even), and wouldn’t mind going back one day, I would like to know that I’m safe doing so. Also, as a tourist attraction for people and businesses around the world, you could give a good argument for why terrorists would want to attack the city.

If the Tea Party really had a major influence over what the Republicans were doing, these funds never would have been created. They only represent a tiny proportion of conservative Americans, and the GOP knows they can’t retain their majority by exclusively pandering to them. The current speaker hasn’t figured out how to handle either of these issues, and instead has let his caucus take votes that he knew would hurt them at the polls leading to its recent defeat in NY26.

Personally, I don’t mind members of Congress asking for money. It is part of their job, and if they weren’t their constituents would be asking them why they haven’t been doing anything. Which happens to be the case for this Congress anyway.

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Filed under Congress, debt, John Boehner, NY26, Politics, Pork

Boehner Wields A Little Gavel

Ever since Barack Obama became President the Republican Party’s argument to everything was simply no. No to raising taxes on the wealthy, no to the Affordable Care Act, and now it is no to raising the debt ceiling. While it is important for all politicians to make sure their base is happy, they still need to pass legislation. Of course that is easier said than done with a divided Congress, but what doesn’t help is when their isn’t strong leadership that is capable of herding the cats.

In a recent article from The Hill, it describes how some members of the GOP have missed the old days of Tom Delay where they were able to get things done without much bickering. While at times upset with the leadership style of late 1990’s and early 2000’s, these members are eager to get things done and don’t see Speaker John Boehner being able to. Tom “the hammer” Delay and Dennis Hastert were never shy of wielding their power to get what they wanted. “In 2004, then-Transportation and Treasury Appropriations subcommittee Chairman Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) tried to rescind Amtrak earmarks, sparking a heated fight with then-Rep. John McHugh (R-N.Y.) and other GOP legislators. Istook’s subcommittee was reorganized in the next Congress, stripping him of his gavel and ‘cardinal’ status.”

Coming back to today, we still don’t have a full budget, not many appropriations have been passed, and can I ask you to name one thing Republicans have done since taking over the House that has helped you? Of course Paul Ryan’s budget was passed, which would have ended Medicare, cut taxes for the wealthy and businesses, plus increase defense spending when all the major players within the Pentagon are calling for cuts. But this isn’t a sign of strength for Boehner.

Ryan’s budget proposal is being used right now by Democrat Kathy Hochul running in a special election in New York’s 26th district, far far away from the liberal city. In fact, no one thought this race would even be close, but since Hochul started running against this budget she has picked up a large amount of momentum. It has gotten so bad for the GOP that Boehner had to head to Buffalo to try and help the Republican candidate Jane Corwin. But the election is Tuesday and recent polls show Hochul with the lead.

Boehner is struggling with members that are afraid they will be facing Tea Party candidates, and they know their “leader” won’t be able to help them. Since coming out in favor of the bailout in 2008, and accomplishing nothing to decrease the debt, he won’t be able to speak for the candidates who came into office saying they will make the government smaller. While many Democrats believe the GOP tends to agree on everything, they clearly haven’t, otherwise more legislation would have passed the House. The major accomplishments of the GOP since Boehner was minority leader had been getting his entire party to vote against the Affordable Care Act and the stimulus when Democrats took over. But most of the credit for was given to GOP Whip Eric Cantor.

When Truman was running for reelection in 1948, he branded the “Do Nothing Congress” as the reason he was not able to enact policies that will help the American people. So far in this first session of Congress, the House has passed twenty-nine pieces of legislation, compared to 2001 under Speaker Hastert, where seventy-five pieces of legislation were passed in its first session. While some of these bills are to change the name of a court room or post office, the majority of them were appropriations for member’s districts. Appropriations, (or pork, whatever you prefer) that could create jobs and stimulate the economy.

Even as the Republicans took over the House, Boehner was pushed to the sidelines by the RNC because he wasn’t good at using the talking points they gave him. Obama needs to do the same as Truman. The election isn’t going to be won over Iraq, Israel, or Osama Bin Laden, it’s going to be about the economy and the state of the nation. The reason why Tom Delay was able to keep his majority was because he got things done. But while the president has tried to get Congress to pass legislation that will help millions of Americans, all John Boehner has said is no, without offering an alternative, and unable to form a consensus for his party.