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november 2015 by inspiral
The Pointless Cowardice of John Boehner - The New Yorker
The mainstream reaction to the forced resignation of John Boehner as the Speaker of the House has been a kind of weary admiration. He fought the good fight against the extremists in his Republican caucus, the narrative goes, but his solid Midwestern virtues (he’s from Ohio) were ultimately no contest for the extremism of the Tea Party. This interpretation is far too generous to Boehner, whose failures, political and substantive, were due mostly to cowardice. The tragedy of Boehner is that he could have been a great Speaker, even on his own terms, but instead his legacy is one of almost complete failure.

Boehner long made it clear that he was a dedicated party man, who believed that what was good for the G.O.P. was good for the country as well. This is how the issue of comprehensive immigration reform came to be the true crucible of his speakership. Following President Obama’s reëlection, in 2012, it was clear that Republicans had to try to appeal to Hispanic voters. In March of 2013, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, released a report saying that the Party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” In short order, many Republicans in the Senate, including such prominent figures as John McCain and Marco Rubio, did just that, and a bill which included a path to citizenship for a majority of undocumented immigrants passed by a vote of sixty-eight to thirty-two.

Boehner also supported immigration reform, at least in its broad outlines—because he correctly saw that it was good for both his party and his country. And there was no doubt that the reform bill could pass the House, with the support of most Democrats and a substantial number of Republicans as well. But Boehner’s Tea Party colleagues in the House opposed immigration reform. So the choice for Boehner, who controlled the House floor, was clear: pass a historic bill that would be good for the Republicans and for the republic, or appease the extremist elements in his party in hopes of hanging on to his position as Speaker.

Boehner caved, refusing to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, and he suffered the fate of all those who give in to bullies; he was bullied some more. This year, the fight was over the highway bill, another piece of popular legislation that Boehner himself and a majority of the House (as well as the Senate and the President) supported—as well they might, given that maintenance of roads and bridges represents some of the basic work of government. But again the Tea Party intimidated Boehner into keeping the bill off the floor, depriving the Speaker of another major accomplishment.

Boehner adopted an extreme version of the so-called Hastert rule, named for his predecessor as Speaker, Dennis Hastert, who is now under indictment for alleged financial crimes connected to blackmail payments (he has pleaded not guilty). The Hastert rule holds that the Speaker should never allow a vote on a bill unless it’s supported by a majority of the Republican caucus. But Boehner’s approach was to keep bills off the floor that were opposed by a minority of Republicans—the Tea Party caucus, which only numbers about fifty—effectively giving them a veto over the work of the House. Nothing came to the floor without their say-so, so that meant that nothing much came to the floor except for symbolic exercises like votes to repeal Obamacare or to defund Planned Parenthood.
politics  usa  government  HouseOfRepresentatives  republicans  teaparty  congress  johnboehner 
september 2015 by jtyost2
John Boehner just sacrificed his career for the good of the Republican party
That vicious cycle did two things: (1) It revealed to anyone paying attention — the White House, the Senate — that Boehner had no real control over his members, and (2) it emboldened conservatives to begin making bigger and grander demands to extract their support.

By the start of this year, it had become quite clear that Boehner’s ability to hold onto the speakership was in question. While he won the job in a floor vote in January, 25 of his GOP colleagues voted for someone else — the biggest rebellion against a sitting speaker in more than 100 years. That more than two dozen Republicans would vote against Boehner in an election in which there was no true alternative candidate was telling: They just weren’t afraid of him anymore.

Meanwhile, outside Congress, Donald Trump was on the rise — with a message that boils down to this: Everyone in politics is lying to you and is bad at their jobs. Republican leaders are the worst of all because they were elected to represent your views and have caved to President Obama and other Washington Democrats.

The prominence in the 2016 race of Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — none of whom had ever held office before — speaks to the present mood coursing through the GOP electorate. Scott Walker’s candidacy fell victim to that anti-everything (or at least everything political) sentiment and others, including Jeb Bush, are struggling to deal with the deep distrust and, in many cases, dislike that the party’s grass roots have for the people elected to lead them.

That was the landscape facing Boehner with another possible (and probably likely) government shutdown looming amid threats from the party’s conservatives that they would shut down the government unless all federal funding for Planned Parenthood was totally stripped. And if it wasn’t Planned Parenthood funding, it might have been something else.

Faced with watching the same awful movie again, Boehner decided to offer himself as a sacrifice to conservatives who wanted him out: I will leave if you vote to keep the government open.
politics  republicans  HouseOfRepresentatives  congress  johnboehner  usa  election 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Bipartisan love: Boehner, Pelosi strike deal to kick 'doc fix' -
Bipartisanship is not completely dead on Capitol Hill, as leaders of both parties in the House and the Senate announced Thursday they have a plan to advance a bill to permanently fix the reimbursement rate for Medicare physicians.

The deal was struck by House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi -- two leaders who have traditionally been at odds on big-ticket legislation.
johnboehner  politics  HouseOfRepresentatives  medicare  government  healthcare  insurance  republicans  senate  NancyPelosi 
march 2015 by jtyost2
Is John Boehner Finally Ready to Save His Party?
That’s where a newly bipartisan-curious Boehner could step in to save his members from self-destruction. House Republicans can pass their budget. Senate Republicans might even follow suit. But at that point, Boehner should cut the right wing loose, just like he’s done to protect Medicare doctors. Come to an agreement with Democrats, just like Paul Ryan did with Patty Murray, that sets defense and domestic spending at levels that big segments of both parties can agree with, and let it pass. In return Republicans can keep the reconciliation instructions they’ll need (or secure an equivalent agreement) to get other priorities—including Obamacare repeal—past Democratic filibusters. Obama will veto those bills, leaving Democrats harmless, but Republicans will remain fully empowered to make whatever statements of principle and vision they want to make. And the upshot is that Republicans sidestep a government shutdown fight that would yield almost nothing of value even under the best of circumstances. After all, if Republicans keep a lid on things now, and win the White House next year, they can cut domestic discretionary spending as low as they’d like in 2017.
johnboehner  politics  republicans  HouseOfRepresentatives  congress  democrats  budget  government 
march 2015 by jtyost2
How John Boehner Can End Republicans' Shutdown Addiction
While these standoffs are embarrassing for the GOP, the electoral ramifications may not be particularly high right now. The 2016 presidential elections are still more than 20 months away. It’s hard to imagine that any voter will be influenced by the past few day’s events. Even the 2012 government shutdown, which sent Republican approval ratings shooting downwards, did not seem to inflict any lasting political damage on the GOP.1

But unless Republicans find a way to avoid these fights over the next 20 months, their electoral ramifications are going to become more and more costly. The Republican primary will only exacerbate the differences between the establishment and conservative base. If Senator Ted Cruz spends the summer denouncing the debt ceiling, he will put the rest of the Republican field in a tight spot. Either disagree with Cruz and face the wrath of the GOP primary voter, or agree with him and alienate moderates who are repulsed by those legislative tactics. Neither option is good.

What’s their best strategy going forward? For one, they should try to kick the debt ceiling and government funding fights past the 2016 presidential election. The less Cruz can use the debt ceiling for his own personal politics, the better. That was the smartest thing the GOP did in the run up to the midterms. The Murray-Ryan budget, which was agreed upon at the end of 2013, set top line spending numbers for the 2014 and 2015 fiscal years. That meant there was no big spending fight at the end of September last year, as the election approached. In February 2014, Congress also raised the debt ceiling so that it would not expire until 2015, once again eliminating it as an issue in the election year.

But that may be difficult to do. Hard line conservatives hated both the Murray-Ryan deal and the clean debt ceiling bill. If Boehner keeps his job after the DHS fight, it’s hard to imagine that the far right wouldn’t revolt if he brought up for a vote a two-year spending bill and clean debt ceiling bill. He could also completely ignore the far right’s demands. Democrats have been pleading with him to do that for years. Pelosi might even offer the votes necessary for Boehner to keep his speakership. Undoubtedly, that appeals to Boehner. But it also doesn’t make much sense for the establishment to wage a full-out war against the base as the 2016 cycle gets underway. There’s no way that ends well.

There is one other thing Boehner could do to regain credibility with the base: allow DHS to shut down. That’s unlikely; if he wanted to do so, he would’ve have done it on Friday night. But as I noted above, a DHS shutdown wouldn’t actually be that bad for the country. Instead, it would be bad for the Republican Party, at least in the short-term. The public outcry would eventually force the GOP to capitulate. But even so, it would be very good for Boehner, who would be praised by the Republican base for his willingness to fight the administration.

When the debt ceiling and government funding deadlines come up later this year, maybe he would have earned enough credibility from the DHS shutdown to kick both fights past the 2016 presidential elections—the theory being that if they win the White House, Republicans will be in a much better negotiating position. If conservative reluctantly agree to that strategy, it could avoid all of these intraparty fights. The GOP could focus on governing responsibly over the next two years.

A politically toxic shutdown, of course, is never a particularly appealing move. But we live in wacky times. A group of influential Republicans is willing to inflict harm on its own party in pursuit of unrealistic goals. Given all of that, a DHS shutdown may be the best strategy they’ve got.
johnboehner  politics  republicans  congress  HouseOfRepresentatives  government 
march 2015 by jtyost2

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