Boehner is an utter failure: Power of the purse to limit federal spending, force the passage of real budgets
Boehner: We got such great results picking a debt ceiling fight in 2011, let’s do the exact same thi
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House Speaker John Boehner seems to think he’s taking a tough stand by announcing, as if it’s 2011 all over again, that House Republicans will not vote to raise the debt ceiling - which the federal government will likely hit in October - unless Democrats agree to major spending cuts.
Remember how this worked out last time? First let’s deal with the substance, since that’s more important than the politics. Obama agreed to a series of automatic sequesters, the first of which resulted in a major Washington freakout but in reality did not even cut spending. It only trimmed the scheduled increase in spending by 2.3 percent. The planned “deficit reduction” of $400 billion over 10 years is completely illusory because the real cuts are in the so-called “out years” and no Congress can obligate a future Congress to any particular spending priorities. As we saw with the first sequester, every time a planned spending cut (even if it’s only a reduction in the increase) is about to come to fruition, Democrats will scream, wail and gnash their teeth to try to get it cancelled. They failed with the first sequester but they will never stop trying. They have no intention of sticking to the deal. The agreement Boehner negotiated accomplished nothing.
Now to the politics: Republicans were lambasted by Democrats and the media for trying to default on the nation’s obligations. This was completely bogus, of course, because there is a big difference between not being able to borrow and not being able to spend. There is still tax revenue coming in, and if it’s that important to pay certain things, then make those things your priority. But as usually happens, most Americans don’t understand it that way because the media will not report it that way.
It is simply maddening that Boehner insists on using this approach, when there is an alternative available to him that cannot - by definition - fail. Since Republicans control the House, all they have to do is pass a budget that limits federal spending to a responsible level. If Democrats want to pass a different budget in the Senate and enter into negotiations with House leaders, they are welcome to try, but Boehner does not have to get Obama to “agree to spending cuts.” Obama doesn’t have any spending authority unless Boehner’s House Republicans give it to him. They are under no obligation to approve one penny more than they believe it is responsible for the federal government to spend. What Obama wants is irrelevant.
What’s more, House Republicans should end the charade by which we have not passed a real federal budget since 2009. They should pass a normal-order budget for all of 2014, and tell Harry Reid they will not vote on any more continuing resolutions to fund government operations. If Reid wants the government to have spending authority, the Senate will have to pass a normal-order budget as well. That is not an unreasonable requirement. It is their job to do that.
But Boehner doesn’t do any of this. Instead, he and House Republicans continue to pass continuing resolutions based on the 2010 FY budget (with automatic increases built in). Among other things, this sets in stone the supposed “one-time emergency” 2009 stimulus of $862 billion as a permanent part of the budget baseline. And then Boehner tries to enter into “negotiations” with Obama and Reid in the hope he can make them agree to cut spending by threatening not to raise the debt ceiling. This never works. Obama and Reid agree to phony future spending cuts, then do everything in their power to welch on these deals at the first opportunity.
Boehner is a complete and utter failure as Speaker of the House. He has not used the power of the purse to limit federal spending nor to force the passage of real budgets, and there has never been anything stopping him from doing either one - apart from his own political cowardice. And the entire House Republican Caucus is just as big a failure as he is, because they have not insisted on a leader who would do what he could and should do to improve the nation’s fiscal standing.
So get ready for another pointless debt ceiling fight that will achieve nothing, provoked by people who won’t use the power the voters handed to them to stop runaway federal spending. Why exactly did we go to the effort of electing a Republican majority in the House? They haven’t accomplished a damn thing.