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.