Bounce Boehner (But Not Because of the Fiscal Cliff)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) did the best that he could with the hands dealt to him. His faltering this past month exposes the fissures in his leadership, and therefore he must step down.

Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) helped lead the Republicans out of the minority back into a stunning majority rule. 2010 was the grand shellacking that rebuked President Obama's power grab. The President pushed Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, then he ignored the jobs and economic growth crises afflicting every taxpayer in this country. Boehner had a tough job ahead of him for the next two years. He had a decisive Tea Party caucus, plus a Democratic Senate to compromise with, yet for the past four years, the US Senate has done nothing but kill sensible legislation while refusing to cut spending and drastically reduce the scope of government in our lives.

The debt-ceiling debacle in 2011 helped Republicans and hurt President Obama, who has refused to lead, refused to compromise, refused every overture to get anything done in Washington. Republican Congressmen like Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina put military cuts on the table along with entitlement reform. Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma) voted to repeal Obamacare, along with David Matheson (D-Utah). Boehner was peeling away conservative Democrats, and he could have taken in more.

It's tough to be a House Speaker, especially when he represents a conference committed to limited government, yet there he stands at the helm and has to work with Democrats who want to expand government, no matter what the cost or the consequences. The speakership depends on leadership which can work behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. Not just posturing, but purposeful positioning which brings both sides together while offering convincing reasons for doing so. The Tea Party caucus was willing to deal when necessary, but no one would have known, since the House Speaker rarely spent any time explain his views or his vision to the country.

The fiscal cliff dance has pushed Boehner into a near-impossible bind. The voters want to cut spending, the President wants to keep spending, and the Democratic majority in the Senate stays spending its days doing nothing. Boehner advanced a plan which would raise taxes on millionaires, the majority of whom support tax increases. Boehner demanded entitlement reform, too; the President refused to deal. Boehner should have called it quits with the President and dealt with Senate leadership or taken his frustrations to every talk show in the country.

Instead, the Speaker tried to pass "Plan B," which got an "incomplete," since he pulled the bill at the last minute. How could he not have known that more conservative GOP members would never deal on "Plan B"? Furthermore, his acquiescence to have a fiscal cliff in the first place was a bad move. Decisive responses needed to be in order from the beginning, but Boehner has been kicking the can down the road along with the rest of the Washington Establishment.

Boehner failed to meet with the diverse leadership in his conference or in the opposition. How many times could he have crossed over and worked with conservative Democrats to get a deal, one can only guess. If the Senate Majority leader Harry Reid refused to deal, then Boehner and the GOP needed to expose their recalcitrance to their districts and the national media. Following allegations of Boehner's "purge of conservatives" to his failure to meet and greet with conservative Democrats along with Tea Party Republicans, a caucus of Virginia Republicans are pressing their Congressman to vote out Boehner as House Speaker.

As the leader of the House of Representatives as well as the standard-bearer for the Republican Party in Congress, Boehner had a responsibility to strike every deal he could with his members, both Establishment and Tea Party types. He needed to bring his own members to the table to outline the proper strategy for the entire GOP caucus, minus the slim number of uncommitted marginal elements. He needed to reach out to the Dixiecrats in the South who would resist their own Democratic Party to respect the fiscal prudence of their constituents. He needed to influence the Presidential campaign more directly, as well, by pressing Romney to stick to one message without wavering to the left or the right after his first set of debates in 2011.

Because Boehner has settled for bickering with a President who refuses to deal, because he has been bent on getting by without getting ahead, because he has refused to bring in Democrats in the Senate as well as the House, the GOP conference in Washington has no choice but to bounce Boehner. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich reached out to the media and party elites outside of the Beltway. Boehner needed to do the same thing, yet he has not. Gingrich took responsibility for the GOP's poor showing in 1998 and resigned. Boehner must do the same.

Leadership depends on cautious conviction, followed by careful compromise. Boehner's convictions are caving in, and his compromise is craven. House Speaker Boehner, step down and let someone else take the lead in the House. Newt Gingrich knew when it was time for him to go. It's time for you to take the hint and butt out of House leadership.

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Jack Charles December 28, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I get my information from many more sources than "This Week with George Stephanopolous. The tax code has been skewed to disproportionately favor those making over 250K since the Reagan administration. Some facts: President Obama Cut Taxes for Almost All Working Americans Ronald Reagan Tripled the National Debt George W. Bush Doubled the National Debt Reagan Raised Debt Ceiling 17 Times, Bush Seven Tax Cuts Don't Pay for Themselves Almost All Working Americans Pay Taxes The GOP's "Job Creators" Don't Create Jobs Low Capital Gains Taxes Fuel Income Inequality... ...But Not Investment The Estate Tax Has Virtually No Impact on Family Farms and Businesses Income Inequality Has Reached an 80 Year High... ...While the Federal Tax Burden Has Hit a 60 Year Low Do some research.
Arthur Christopher Schaper December 28, 2012 at 08:48 PM
You did not speak to the small business owners.
Jack Charles December 30, 2012 at 11:25 PM
As Matt Yglesias points out, The way U.S. income tax brackets work is that taxes are levied on marginal income. The rate applied to income earned over the $250,000 threshold is irrelevant to the first $250,000 worth of taxable income. If you have $250,010 of taxable earnings then only that last $10 is taxed at the higher rate. In all cases, higher pre-tax earnings lead to higher after-tax income. Similarly, a curiously large number of the small business owners surveyed by House Republicans don’t seem to understand the difference between profits and revenues. The issue here is that some (but not all) small firms are organized as what are called “pass-through entities” for tax purposes. A pass-through entity pays no taxes. Instead its profits are distributed to its owners (typically a small group of people) and they pay income—but not payroll—taxes on the proceeds. If a company isn’t profitable, it'll have no income to pay taxes on at all.
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 01, 2013 at 02:00 AM
Breitbart lives, even though he's dead. (RIP) If FOX is biased, then CNN, MSNBC, and much of the mainstream media are state-sponsored propaganda. These hollow attacks on news organizations are pretty useless. Figure out your values (President Obama has failed to do this) Get your facts, fact-check them, ask the source if you can. "Fox News" and "Breitbart" are hollow attacks. Still, Breitbart lives, even if he's dead -- Just ask Anthony Weiner.
Arthur Christopher Schaper January 01, 2013 at 02:04 AM
"Fiscal Cliff" has been crossed, and the world has not come to an end. All this fiscal cliff rah-rah was much ado about nothing, much like the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse, which did not happen, if you have not noticed already. Way to go, GOP. Obama owns everything. His fault. Mitch McConnell has shredded his "one-term President" missteps. He reached out to Joseph Biden to make a deal, and the VP, toothy grin and all, looked more Presidential than the President. "This is a big f----ing deal."


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