As if we needed more evidence that John Boehner is not a leader, and certainly is not a Conservative leader. Last night’s vote on “Plan B” was an embarrassment – and that’s being kind. Apparently, Boehner believed he could take a stand, draw a clear line in the sand, and force the President and Senate Democrats to take ownership of allowing tax rates to increase on Jan 1, 2013. The stage was set. The House would pass “Plan B,” and Harry Reid would not bring the bill to a vote in the Senate, enabling Boehner to blame Senate Democrats and the President for failing to pass a bill that would maintain tax rates for some 99% of taxpayers. But he couldn’t even get enough votes from House Republicans. Partly because Boehner’s “Plan B” raised tax rates. Partly because it was loaded up with other junk that gave House Members reason to reject it. But mostly because John Boehner is a feckless leader, with neither strategic or tactical abilities. So now Boehner retreats with his tail between his legs, unable to even coalesce his own members, and with the President all-to-willing to see Jan 1, 2013 with no agreement. In that event, tax rates go up for everyone, spending cuts are implemented, and Republicans are blamed. Then, the President proposes a bill that restores tax rates for those earning less than $400K (maybe back to $250K), stops some of the spending cuts to defense, and becomes a President who’s for lower taxes and supports the military. And John Boehner is the President’s useful idiot. Unwilling and unable to out maneuver the President.
The sole reason we’re having to deal with the tax rates and spending cuts now (i.e., the fiscal cliff – hate that term) is because Boehner was played by the President last year. Why would Boehner agree to delay implementation of the tax rate hikes and spending cuts until after the election? How could that possibly help Boehner’s negotiating position? We hear that he’s in a tough position. That what he’s doing is hard. No it’s not. Soldiers’ work is hard. First responders’ work is hard. Congress? Please! Boehner is a piker who’s tacitly shown he believes he’s negotiating from a weak position. He’s agreed to raise tax rates on the 1% – giving his imprimatur to the Occupy crowd and their argument. He’s acknowledging that raising tax rates is good policy, and that it will somehow help our economic recovery or debt problem – though he’s unable to explain how.
He fails to even make the simple point that the increased tax receipts (it’s not revenue – that’s a private sector term that should be reserved for money received from the sale of goods or services) sought by the President – or now proposed by Boehner – will do nothing to address our debt. Nothing. The President talks about fairness and a balanced approach, but Boehner never takes the opportunity to challenge the basic math. Whether the taxes collected are $80B or $160B (per year), the President is spending $3.6T per year. The taxes amount to about 2-4% of annual spending. And Boehner can’t point out how ridiculous that is? No. He jumps on board and argues for even less tax reciepts.
What he should have done – and can still do – is present a bill that pushes the Jan 1, 2013 date back 90 days. That’s it. No other goodies. No tricks. No gimmicks. A simple extension of the deadline. Maintain the status quo. He could make the argument that this is just too important to ram through in a lame duck session and under the current time constraints. Sure, he’d take some heat for “kicking the can down the road,” but he could take the moral high ground by arguing that it’s in the best interest of taxpayers to give this issue the time it deserves. It’s in their best interests to not make just any deal, but to have an open and constructive debate about taxes, spending, etc. He could point out the fallacy of the President’s position. But that’s not John Boehner. He plays right into the President’s hands. He did it last year – when “negotiating” the fiscal cliff. And he’s doing it now. He acts as if he has no options. That if he doesn’t compromise or capitulate, he’ll lose. He’s shown nothing but weakness, and presents an easy target for the President.
We need a Speaker of the House who is Conservative and who can lead. Someone who is not afraid of Conservatism, who can explain how damaging the President’s policies are, and highlight the moral superiority of Conservative principles. A Speaker who can stand up to, and go toe-to-toe with the President. It’s past time for the Republican establishment in Washington to be replaced. Not just at the ballot box, but also from within. There are many Republican members better able to lead. We should all our Representatives and urge them to support another member for Speaker.