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Posts Tagged ‘Boehner’
December 13th, 2013 at 1:55 pm
Ryan’s Rope and Boehner’s Blunder

At NRO this week, I made it clear that I really don’t like Paul Ryan’s budget deal. I now rush in to urge everybody, on all sides on the right, not to over-react. This admonition applies to Speaker John Boehner, too.

Background: While I haven’t always thought Boehner has strategized brilliantly or played his tactical cards wisely, I also think conservatives have frequently gone way overboard in portraying him as some sort of outrageous sellout, “squish,” or (in some cases) flat-out enemy. The man has very solid ratings from the American Conservative Union, and he is a far more effective, and far more conservative, Speaker than Dennis Hastert was; and in many ways he is steadier than Newt Gingrich was.

I’ve also been, over the course of many years, one of Paul Ryan’s foremost advocates, and while I have been far less happy with him this year, my prior post on him (before this deal) was far more in support than opposed.

The point is that I think both Ryan and Boehner are, or at least usually have been, trying their hardest, legitimately, to achieve conservative goals. I mostly do not question their intentions (although both are showing worrisome signs even on that front, but that’s for another day’s discussion), but I do question some of their decisions.

I also think Boehner has very good reason to feel very, very angry at the conservative groups that have portrayed him as being just this side of the devil incarnate, utterly failing to modulate their criticism to match the severity (or lack thereof) of his alleged crimes against ideological purity. It is an axiom of politics that if you treat somebody as an enemy, as the groups have treated Boehner, then eventually he actually starts seeing himself as your enemy — and treats you accordingly. (Conservatives did this to John McCain in the late 1990s, when his only apostasy was on campaign finance, taking positions that most conservatives had taken as recently as six years earlier, before George Will made opposition to McCain-like efforts a cause celebre. McCain was wrong, but he was otherwise solidly conservative and saw himself as one, until conservatives started treating him as an outright pariah — which of course, with his awful temperament, caused him to become increasingly opposed to us on all sorts of issues.)

None of which, though, excuses Boehner’s public conniption fits this week. Boehner’s job as a national leader on the right is to pull people together, not drive them apart. His job is to make it easier to unify to win elections, not to drive wedges that exacerbate cannibalism on the right. He should be trying to bring activists in, not drive them away.

And in this case, he also was wrong on substance in way overstating the case that Ryan’s deal is a win for conservatives and a move towards smaller government. Even if one accepts all of Ryan’s numbers — which, as I explained in the column linked above, are bogus numbers — the deficit reduction over ten years ($23 billion, or a paltry $2.3 billion per year) would amount to extremely small potatoes. The fact — and it is a fact — that the claimed reduction involves lots of smoke and mirrors makes the vehemence of Boehner’s claims even more out of line.

As for Ryan, I actually do think he sincerely thinks he has gotten the best deal he can. (He knows darn well, however, that he is using a lot of gimmicks to make the deal look better to conservatives than it actually is. So he’s not being fully honest — again — and he is also helping feed the impression that conservative hard-liners are unreasonable, which is a counterproductive impression for the long-term cause of good government.) But I think he was not just wrong, but asinine, in shutting out his Senate counterpart (and longtime ally) Jeff Sessions from negotiations that should have included Sessions. What happens when one shuts out Senate conservatives is that there is nobody to raise a red flag when Senate-specific issues come up that really, really make a difference for conservative governance. In this case, Ryan allowed the deal to include an absolutely horrible waiver of Senate budget rules, to the effect that, despite his staff’s pitiful claims to the contrary, really will make it easier for taxes to be raised in the future.

All in all, despite my NRO column, I do not think this deal was an absolutely horrible one; it was merely bad, not horrific, and it was a comparatively minor deal, not a major one. But, as Fred Barnes correctly wrote, we gave up a great deal when we breached the budgetary sequester — and we got precious little in return for it.

In sum (after lots of one-hand/other-hand discussion — sorry!), while conservatives are rightly angry at yet another policy defeat, and while Boehner’s intemperate remarks — in effect, a declaration of war against some of the conservative activist groups — were extraordinarily unwise, it still behooves all of us to take deep breaths and try to gain some perspective. We now do so in the knowledge that Paul Ryan is playing macro-political games that put his personal ambitions above those of the conservative movement, and that Boehner has been pushed to the verge of a McCain-like, all-out-war against the movement. These are not good developments.

Conservatives now can do two things. In the short term, we can encourage senators to join Sessions and Mitch McConnell in opposition to Ryan’s deal. It might still be defeatable. For the long run, I repeat the call I made here two months ago for a summit on the right, to try to pull people together and strategize better. We have an extraordinary opportunity in 2014 for electoral gains, in response to the debacle of ObamaCare. It would be inexcusable for continued warfare on the right to destroy that opportunity. Constructive criticism is fine. Cannibalism isn’t.

May 10th, 2013 at 4:17 pm
Wolf Whets Appetite for Benghazi Bipartisanship

For many months now, the excellent U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-VA, has been calling for the appointment of a special “select” committee to investigate all aspects of the 9/11 catastrophe in Benghazi, Libya. In the wake of this week’s explosive hearings, Wolf renewed his call today in a letter to Speaker John Boehner. His argument always had made sense: “A thorough inquiry will require witnesses from across government – including the Defense Department, State Department, Intelligence Community, Justice Department and even the White House.  Only a Select Committee would be able to bring the cross-jurisdictional expertise and subpoena authority to compel answers from these agencies.” Also: “It’s worth restating that the committee would be bipartisan, thereby putting an end to misguided criticism from some that this investigation is only being done for political reasons.”

Wolf’s arguments always have made sense. It’s not that Chairman Darrel Issa’s committee has been doing a bad job — far from it — but it is just a reality that the media has treated Issa’s inquiry as being partisan, and also that a select committee would have the advantages of sole focus and of cross-jurisdictional authority.

Today, the Wall Street Journal endorsed the idea, and it closed with a particularly strong argument:

“Mr. Boehner said on Thursday that the administration should release its email communications on Benghazi, but it won’t do so unless they are subpoenaed. Frank Wolf, one of the House’s most senior members, has it right. Benghazi’s explanation deserves the best effort elected officials can give it, and the right vehicle is a Select Committee with subpoena power and deposition authority.”

Those emails, by the way, are almost certainly the key. Boehner has been right to focus on them. As Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said in the past 24 hours, what really is important is not just whether there was a cover-up, but what was being covered up. What more can we learn about the State Department refusing multiple requests for added security in the months before the assault, and was the White House involved in those decisions. And, with what is more likely to have White House involvement, what about the now-confirmed story that rescuers were ready to at least try to fly to Benghazi, but were told to stand down? Who told them to stand down, and why? And where was Obama during all of this? Sleeping? Planning his fund-raising remarks for his trip to Las Vegas?

Anyway, a select committee can best look into all of this. As usual, Frank Wolf is right.

January 4th, 2013 at 3:37 pm
Simple Logic

At the risk of being accused of celebrating a bad deal rather than merely arguing that it wasn’t as bad as some conservatives say(I am doing the latter, not the former), I hereby jump into the fray again to request a little logical consistency from fellow conservatives.

Imagine a scenario the direct converse of what just occurred this week.

Imagine that years ago Congress had passed a “temporary” tax hike to pay for a war and its aftermath. Imagine that the hike was scheduled to expire at 12:01 a.m. on a certain New Year’s Day. In other words, by law, taxes would drop on every American on Jan. 1 if Congress didn’t act.

Now, what if Congress suddenly decided it couldn’t “afford” to “lose” those revenues. So it began working to block the expiration of those higher rates.

Regardless of whether Congress acted on Dec. 30 (before the expiration of the higher rates) or on Jan. 1 or 2 (after the expiration), there is not a conservative on Earth who would argue that Congress was doing anything other than raising taxes if Congress indeed intervened. And if Congress had intervened to block the scheduled rate reduction for 99% of Americans, while allowing the lower rates to apply to 1%, there is not a conservative alive who would be celebrating the reprieve for the 1% rather than denouncing Congress for keeping the current rates for the 99%.

In that scenario, every conservative would treat the already-scheduled-by-law rate reduction as the baseline, and any change in that schedule as the intervention.

So why, if the situation is reversed, do conservatives yell that Congress “raised” taxes by acting to avert a scheduled tax hike for 99% of Americans? Why is it that the already-scheduled-by-law rate increase is treated as if it is the intervention, while the change in that schedule, in order to save lower rates for 99%, is treated as the baseline?

…….

The point is that consistency should be required. Deciding whether something is a tax “hike” or a tax “cut” should not be a changeable proposition depending on the political circumstances. Either the law as written is the baseline, or it isn’t. You can’t say that in one case the law as written is the baseline, while in another case the existing rate structure is the baseline no matter what the law says is supposed to happen to that baseline.

Conservatives have every reason to grumble that President Obama refused to act to protect the final 1% (or whatever the exact number is) of Americans from higher taxes. But it is just not fair to blame Republican leaders for failing to act when they indeed already had acted months ago but the Senate and president refused to go along. Yes, yes, there were all sorts of different strategies and tactics that might have achieved better results (from a conservative standpoint) than were actually achieved, but that doesn’t mean that congressional Republicans are guilty of hiking taxes when they strove so mightily (even if ineffectually) to avoid raising even a single dollar of taxes.

The law as written is a mighty powerful instrument. President Obama had the law as written on his side, combined with the media, combined with the polls, combined with the political momentum of a very large electoral victory. For Republican leaders to fail to overcome the law, the media, the polls, and the political momentum might represent a lack of skill, but it is hardly a betrayal of principle. All that is at issue are small degrees of difference as to what was achievable as the best, or least bad, outcome from a very difficult situation. When a party controls only one half of one of the two “political” branches of government, and when the party controlling one-and-a half out of two (including the most powerful one) also has existing law (requiring higher rates as of Jan. 1) on its side, then the first party does not have one heck of a lot of leverage.

Do I think anybody else could have achieved a better outcome than John Boehner achieved? Yes, slightly. But was the final outcome an utter catastrophe, compared to what would have happened if nobody acted at all? Not in the least, as I have explained in other blog posts and columns. And there is something to be said for Boehner’s dogged attempts to avert catastrophe, and certainly something to be said for a result that saved married couples from higher tax rates for another $200,000 in earnings while for the first time inflation-indexing a very large exemption from the death tax.

———————

By contrast, moving forward, the leverage is almost all in favor of conservative goals. Whereas in this week’s deal the alternative of failing to act would have meant a horrible outcome (tax-rate hikes for 100% of Americans), there now remains not a clause in current law that will force any more taxes to rise if Congress fails to act. But if Congress fails to act at all — if it does nothing — then conservative wishes for lower spending will indeed occur. On both taxes and spending, the leverage of doing nothing — and thus of allowing the law as written to proceed — is now in conservative hands.

What remains is for Republicans and conservatives to revamp their strategy, tactics and communications, so they come out better in political terms than they emerged from this fight. The first step needs to be to stop cannibalizing our own side and instead aim fire at the leftist president — and to start by focusing attention on the unpopular$1 trillion in taxes that just went into effect from the unpopular next phase of implementation of the unpopular ObamaCare law.

It’s time to stop bemoaning the past, and to start working to improve the next battles that will be upon us in very, very short order.

December 27th, 2012 at 4:07 pm
Cliff Diving

Two weeks ago on the local news in Mobile (the great WKRG), I explained some of the numbers behind the budget. Watch here. What I said then still applies. I noted that if Barack Obama only went a little way back towards an apples-to-apples domestic discretionary spending equivalence with what that Scrooge (NOT!) Bill Clinton thought was acceptable, we would be more than $250 billion (over ten years) closer to an agreement, before doing any of a number of other cost-saving measures.

Anyway, the clip is just about 150 seconds long.

I’ll have more to say on this subject soon; for now, suffice it to say that it is Obama, not Boehner, who is being entirely unreasonable (and irresponsible) in these negotiations.

December 26th, 2012 at 12:06 pm
Obama’s Crisis

For more than four years I have been convinced that Barack Obama was not just an arm’s-length devotee of radical activist Saul Alinsky, but a by-the-letter disciple of Alinsky’s. For almost as long, I have believed it is possible that Obama is a firm adherent of the Cloward-Piven strategy of deliberately causing government to spend more than it possibly can bear, in order to cause such a crisis in society that, rather counter-intuitively, only the government is left as an institution strong enough to step in, thus giving government vast new powers to create a Leftist version of Utopia — which of course is actually a dystopia.

For both Alinsky and Cloward-Piven (as for Obamite Rahm Emanuel), a crisis is not only not something to be avoided, but is actually something very much to be desired — and, further, something to be striven for, as long as the blame for getting there can be pawned off on someone else.

Hence we come to the so-called Fiscal Cliff. Does anybody really think Obama fears the consequences of not getting a deal?

It would be foolish to think he does so fear them. As the Wall Street Journal reported the other day (as discussed by Ashton in a post a couple of days ago), Obama threatened Speaker John Boehner that if Boehner didn’t fold, Obama would simply use a special speech plus the State of the Union address to blame Boehner and Republicans. Obama’s not playing for a better short-term outcome for the American people; he is playing for near-total anihilation of his political opponents, en route to long-term political power for himself and his allies.

A crisis combined with a cynical, hardball blame game is exactly what he wants.

The political right seems unable to communicate in a way effective enough to push the blame right back where it belongs, which is on Obama’s shoulders. This could be a very rough ride.

December 17th, 2012 at 11:19 am
Obama’s Obnoxious Obstructionism

President Obama bargains in bad faith. Or, rather, he doesn’t bargain at all, but pretends to do so — so, technically, I guess his pretensions to bargaining are the proof of bad faith.

I cannot name a single important instance in which President Obama actually gave any substantive ground to Republicans, on anything. There wasn’t a single concession to anybody right of center in ObamaCare. There was no concession in the “debt limit” negotiations, but instead merely a postponement of the situation until he hoped political circumstances would be more favorable. And now, in these “Fiscal Cliff” talks occurring now, every time John Boehner makes an offer, Obama actually moves in the other direction.

Back in the last talks 18 months ago, Obama reportedly originally asked for $800 billion in new revenues. Then he demanded $1.2 trillion, but said it could all be accomplished without higher rates. Now he demands $1.6 trillion, and says he won’t even come to the table unless rates are raised (not just loopholes and deductions limited) on exactly those he always has targeted, those couples making over $200 annually. Plus, rather than limiting spending, he is demanding more “stimulus” largesse and an unlimited, automatic extension of the debt limit.

So, even with Boeher now offering higher rates for those actually making $1 million or more a year — a HUGE concession for Republicans — Obama has rejected that out of hand, and did so within an hour or so.

This man has no interest in keeping the government solvent. Just the opposite: He obviously wants it to spend, spend, spend, and grow, grow, grow, no matter what. He’s playing a long-term game, for total federal-government control, no matter what the short-term damage he does.

One can easily be forgiven, based on this record, for thinking he really is trying to enact the Cloward-Piven strategy of causing economic collapse so bad that the only institution left with any power is the central government, which then can reformulate the entire system under its own, all-powerful auspices. Hence, also, Obama’s assault on the intermediary institutions of society, including faith-affiliated social services.

Whatever his real goals — whether Cloward-Piven, or something else — there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest he has any intention at all of getting the problems of deficit and debt under control. And there is no evidence that he is even searching for common ground. Obama’s behavior certainly approaches the sinister; it is like nothing this country has ever seen before. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” said his fish-mailing thug aide Rahm Emanuel — and, by extension, never fail to try to foment a crisis, as long as you think you can blame the other side for it.

December 2nd, 2012 at 9:51 am
At Least Gingrich Learns

I have always had extremely mixed feelings about Newt Gingrich, admiring much about him and being appalled by much about him. Usually, when he is NOT directly in the political arena he makes more sense commenting on the arena than he does as an actor in the arena. So it is with the passage quoted by Ashton below.

Here is the key part of that quotation: “At any point they wanted to, the President and the Congress could reduce the “cliff” to a series of foothills by breaking the problem into ten or twenty component parts. They could then focus on solving each problem on its own merits and out in the open with public hearings, public understanding and public involvement.”

Gingrich is absolutely right on this. Maybe he learned from his mistakes as speaker, when he repeatedly tried to put big packages together rather than break things into, yes, component parts. Not that it was all Gingrich’s fault, and not that I had much of an audience then, but as a leadership press secretary I talked myself blue in the face (I wasn’t important enough to have the ear of somebody who could do anything about it, I guess) complaining that we kept forcing all-or-nothing, edge-of-cliff battles rather than fighting and winning discrete skirmishes where we could stake out the high ground and dominate the field.

In fact, Republicans in 1995 were winning the budget battles until Gingrich let Bill Thomas talk him into including a tiny little Medicare “fix” in what had been a clean fight over Appropriations. Once that happened, Clinton was able to unleash his “Mediscare” campaign and seize the upper hand.

Way back in the early 1990s, New Orleans Mayor Sidney Barthelemy wanted to push through major tax reforms and other changes, and he put them into one huge package. At Gambit Weekly, we urged him to break it down into component parts and present a menu to the voters. He didn’t, and his initiative lost big. He came back the next time and did it our way, and got almost everything he wanted. And that’s what usually happens: Give citizens a chance to look at things in chewable bites, and common sense often wins. Try to make them swallow something massive, and they can’t grasp the whole thing, so they buy the liberal media narrative, whatever it is.

Anyway, I’m rambling here, but the point is that whatever Gingrich’s history — some of it excellent as speaker, some of it awful — he is right on target in the remarks cited above, and he should be listened to. Actually, I have a version of the “component part” idea waiting for this week’s column, already written.  Messrs. Boehner and McConnell really should take Gingrich’s advice.

December 21st, 2011 at 6:07 pm
I’m With Boehner

Am I the only one in the non-congressional conservative universe who thinks John Boehner and the House are doing the right thing and should stand firm, with regard to the payroll tax cut holiday? The Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove, and all sorts of other worthies are all saying that Republicans have totally lost the politics on this issue and that they should acquiesce to the Democrats’ two-month extension.

I say their prescriptions are wrong, and that Boehner and company should stick to their guns. First of all, there are times when principle should be more important than politics. In this case, somebody needs to act the role of the adult and insist that doing what is technically a complete recipe for disaster is just a total non-starter. There are ways to turn the politics around. Boehner could call a prime-time press conference and say aloud that he KNOWS everybody says this is a political loser, but that he MUST do what’s right, specifically because of the procedural problems for small businesses in implementing a mere two-month tax cut AND because he, unlike the Dems, thinks that the tax cut should be for a full year. AND, for that matter, that it ought to be fully paid for. Furthermore, he could add, he could pledge right now that if the Democrats — the Dems, the Dems, the Dems, not the Republicans — fail to extend the tax cut, then Republicans pledge to make it up to voters when the Dems finally come to their senses. In other words, he can say that the tax cut, whenever it is finally passed, will be made retroactive to cover any time lost due to the Dems’ rank political gamesmanship. It is far easier for the government to retroactively provide a tax cut of this sort (it has been done a number of times in recent years) than it is for millions upon millions of small businesses to set up a payroll-withholding system for just two months, which is what the Democrats propose.

(As for me, I think this is the stupidest tax cut in my adult lifetime — and I’m a 33-year Reagan-Kemp-Laffer supply-side tax cutter — and I think it would be better to work for permanent tax relief on another front rather than temporary relief that drains Social Security. But if there IS to be this tax cut, which seems politically to be almost mandatory now, then it is absolutely idiotic to do it the way the Democrats have done it. Mitch McConnell and the Senate GOP REALLY REALLY screwed up by agreeing to this monstrosity. It is they, not Boehner and company, who screwed up both the policy AND the politics on this.)

The reality is that the Republican position of a year-long tax cut should be a political winner over the Dems’ two-month cut. There are ways to turn around the politics. They are ways that must be attempted, because the two-month cut is flat-out irresponsible. The Wall Street Journal, of all outfits, should understand this and point this out, rather than blasting the House GOP for a political problem definitely not of their own making. Responsible people should applaud rare acts of political courage for the purpose of responsible law-making. Boehner and company deserve praise and support, not sniping.

August 18th, 2011 at 12:00 pm
Cantor: Right Theme, but AWFUL Substance

I just about spewed my cookies when I saw this post regarding Eric Cantor. Cantor, very wisely, advises fellow Republicans to “avoid unnecessary conflict.” Well, yes. I frequently get blasted by conservative ideologues for insisting that there are occasions when it makes no sense to push issues to an all-or-nothing, edge-of-cliff face-off. As a general matter of strategy and tactics, conservatives recently have, quite arguably, tended to err a little too much in that direction for our own long-term good.

But then Cantor got specific, and he is as wrong as wrong can be (I’m quoting NRO’s Andrew Stiles here):

He [Cantor] simply suggests that House Republicans stick to the spending levels called for in the recent debt-ceiling deal, as opposed to trying to push for deeper cuts.“While all of us would like to have seen a lower discretionary appropriations ceiling for the upcoming fiscal year, the debt limit agreement did set a level of spending that is a real cut from the current year level,” Cantor writes. “I believe it is in our interest to enact into law full-year appropriations bills at this new lower level.”

This is nonsense. It’s sickening. The recent agreement’s limits were just that: limits, not mandates. They are part and parcel of the same agreement that calls for another $1.5 trillion in savings. There is no reason, not on God’s green Earth, that some of that $1.5 trillion can’t come from domestic discretionary appropriations, even in advance of any deal reached by the “supercommittee.” Any additional savings achieved through the appropriations process this fall will only make the supercommittee’s job easier. And, of course, there remains so much incredible, unfathomable, indefensible waste in domestic discretionary spending that it makes no sense to put further savings from that area out of bounds. As a matter of fact, I have long argued that it is on individual Approps bills, where individual extravagances can be focused on and highlighted, that the best, least politically dangerous, most politically advantageous case can be made for cutting spending. The fight over the omnibus bill in the spring, halfway through the year, was not the best time to fight. Nor was the debt ceiling the best place to draw a line in the sand, although (thanks to John Boehner, whose achieved far more than conservatives give him credit for) that fight worked out better than I had feared.

But if Congress actually does its job and passes Approps bills one by one, in plenty of time, rather than throwing everything into a massive omnibus bill, then it becomes far easier to make the case for individual cuts.

Cantor’s advice here is the advice of a capitulator. It is disgusting. I am not advocating another “to-the-cliff” battle, but rather a series of carefully chosen skirmishes, all on behalf of the taxpayer.

Shame on Cantor.

August 2nd, 2011 at 3:01 pm
Come Together for Growth

Not to beat a dead horse, but the next item of business for conservatives should be to make the case for, and pass legislation enabling, economic growth. To do this, those on the right need to bury the hatchet of the last two weeks, stop attacking each other, and work together again. Moderate Republicans are not the enemy; they may just not be sufficiently friendly. Or, from the mainstream conservative standpoint (i.e. John Boehner), the Tea Partiers aren’t the enemy; they just act like it sometimes.

In actual goals and actions, there is far more that unites the right than that should divide it. Pick up the pieces, consolidate whatever gains were made, and move on. Growth is the answer. Tax reform is the means.

July 31st, 2011 at 3:13 pm
Front-Load the Spending Cuts

As House and Senate negotiators scramble to fashion a deal that can garner 60 votes in the Senate, 216 or 217 votes in the House, and President Alinsky’s signature (I still smell a last-minute torpedo job from The One), three keys should guide the Republican leaders. First, defense spending should be significantly protected. Second, absolutely no tax hikes should be part of the “trigger” mechanism for the second round of savings, and the Senators and House members appointed by GOP leaders to the commission should also be known anti-taxers who have signed the ATR pledge. Third, and this is of utmost importance: In order to reassure conservatives, the domestic discretionary spending cuts should be even more front-loaded than the Boehner plan was. The revised Boehner plan cut $22 billion in the first year; the new one OUGHT to cut at least $25 billion, and it should accordingly cut more in the second year than Boehner’s revised plan did.

Frankly, we should not care much what the caps are in years nine and ten; but history shows that spending caps actually tend to work in the first two or three years at least — and that if savings are achieved for more than one year, the “baseline” for future spending tends to drop and stay dropped for another two or three years — so the first two or three years are crucial.

Frankly, as long as these three conditions are met, I think Reaganite conservatives will have won, on behalf of the public, a reasonably decent victory.

July 25th, 2011 at 11:08 pm
Knowing When To Say Yes

Some hard-liners in the House are refusing to support John Boehner’s latest plan. They seem to believe it’s doesn’t achieve enough savings.

Not to be too blunt about it, but they need to get a clue.

James Capretta, who trashed the Gang of Six plan, says Boehner’s plan is okay. So does Grover Norquist.

Here’s what they understand: $1.2 trillion of savings from domestic discretionary programs, with real, enforceable budget caps, over ten years, is a huge accomplishment. And it still leaves on the table some of the low-hanging entitlement fruit (a “chained” Consumer Price Index adjustment) and some of the mid-hanging entitlement fruit (hiking the Medicare eligibility age merely to coincide with that of Social Security). So that means that part of the other $1.6 trillion in savings, to come from the later commission, is actually likely to be fairly easy to achieve as well.

The history is this: Never before has Congress used the debt ceiling hike to force serious budget savings. Any successful use of this debate toward that end should be counted as a significant accomplishment. Sure, some on the hard right — and I have ALWAYS been hard-right on cutting spending — may complain that Boehner’s plan isn’t as good as the original “Cut, Cap, and Balance.” So the bleep what. Anybody who ever expected CC&B to become law in its original form wasn’t living in the real world. James Madison and Roger Sherman didn’t design our system to allow one House to steamroll both the other congressional chamber and the president (although they did indeed give more power to the House of Reps. vis-a-vis the president, on domestic issues, than it has historically made use of).  The U.S. government is designed to force compromise.

Frankly, the Boehner plan isn’t a 50-50 compromise; it’s a win for conservatives, for fiscal responsibility, and for the nation. It effectively changes the trajectory of spending for the first time since Washington started bingeing again (after three good years) in the fall of 1998. It’s a remarkable achievement when working against the most leftist president in history. Conservatives should not torpedo it.

April 8th, 2011 at 10:35 am
Obama: I Will Veto Bill Ensuring Paychecks to Military
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

Shouldn’t America ensure that its military personnel and their families continue to receive paychecks, regardless of whether budget negotiations result in a deal or a federal shutdown? Barack Obama apparently doesn’t think so.

As bargaining continued yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner (R – Ohio) introduced legislation that would keep the government open one additional week and maintain military funding through the end of 2011 so that members of the armed forces would continue to be paid.  The House quickly passed that bill, including 15 Democratic votes.  Obama, however, grotesquely promised a veto, bizarrely labeling it a “distraction.”

Frankly, this entire debate wouldn’t be necessary if the preceding Congress overwhelmingly controlled by Obama’s own party had simply passed a 2011 budget.  But for the first time since the inception of the Budget Act, they simply abdicated that basic responsibility.  Regardless, our military is stretched thin across the globe, and many families live paycheck-to-paycheck.  This obviously isn’t of paramount concern to a president who clearly seems to welcome a government shutdown.

This is one of the most shameful and pathetic episodes in an already shoddy presidency.

April 1st, 2011 at 4:30 pm
Speaker Boehner: Don’t Sacrifice Amendment Defunding “Gainful Employment Rule” in House/Senate Budget Negotiations
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

As the House and Senate enter budget negotiations, House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor must not sacrifice the Kline Amendment de-funding the Obama Education Department’s so-called “Gainful Employment Rule” on the altar of false compromise.

The Gainful Employment Rule, which sets arbitrary bureaucratic formulas for federal student loan repayment, is a transparent attempt by the Obama Administration to cripple private career colleges.  And the tale of its creation is a long, sordid one.  First, there were allegations of insider trading between Education Department officials and short-sellers with a financial interest in seeing career colleges’ stock prices fall.  Then, the the Government Accountability Office (GAO) had its sting operation against career colleges exposed as defective, ultimately forcing its retraction.  These allegations are serious enough that separate investigations were commenced in the Senate and House.

Fortunately, a bipartisan group in the House of Representatives voted to de-fund any enforcement of the Gainful Employment Rule in budget bill H.R. 1.  In an era of intense party acrimony, the fact that opposition to the Gainful Employment Rule attracted strong bipartisan agreement speaks volumes.  Now, it’s a matter of Speaker Boehner holding strong on de-funding implementation of the rule, rather than offering it as “trade bait” to Senate Democrats.  Please don’t allow the Kline Amendment de-funding the Gainful Employment Rule to become a casualty of politics as usual, Speaker Boehner.