Politics: How about a House Speaker who won't bring Obama's spending measures to the floor?
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Thursday January 3rd, 2013
By DAN CALABRESE - Who says Boehner (or any other Republican) has no leverage?
With the House voting right now on its Speaker for this session, we've all heard the rumblings that John Boehner will face resistance to his re-election, but ultimately will prevail because there is really no one who wants to challenge him. And one of the supposed reasons for this is that House Speaker would be a thankless job for any Republican in the coming session, with virtually no leverage at all in negotiations on economic policy.
I have a question about that:
Can the federal government spend a dime that the House does not vote to approve? It's a rhetorical question, of course. No it cannot. Since 2009, Harry Reid has refused to introduce an actual federal budget measure in the Senate, which has required the federal government to operate by a series of continuing resolutions. But the Senate cannot pass these continuing resolutions unilaterally. They have to pass the House too, and nothing can pass the House unless the Speaker allows it to come to the floor for a vote.
Why does Boehner, or any other Republican would-be Speaker, continue to allow this? I realize the House can't force the Senate to pass a budget or do anything else, but why are House Republicans allowing Harry Reid to set the rules here? Constitutionally, Congress is obligated to propose a budget for each fiscal year. Reid and Senate Democrats ignore this requirement because it would be politically troublesome for them to put their irresponsible spending in a single document for the nation to examine.
That is their choice, but there is no reason House Republicans need to enable their irresponsibility by joining in the passage of these continuing resolutions.
Why can't a Republican Speaker tell Harry Reid, "Quit sending us this crap. We're going to vote on a real budget or no spending measures at all."?
And while they're at it, why can't House Republicans refuse to pass levels of spending that put the nation's fiscal health in jeopardy by running record deficits and debt? Isn't the whole point of controlling one chamber of the Legislative Branch that it allows you to serve as a check on the others? If Republicans think we're spending too much - and we are - then why don't they use the fact that they control the House to stop it from happening?
I understand the political answer. Obama would beat them up in the media. The media would beat them up on Obama's behalf. Washington political consultants and pollsters would warm grimly that Republicans are losing the battle of public opinion. Nervous Republicans would plead with the Speaker to cave for the sake of whatever parochial interest they are worried about back in their districts. I get all that.
But do the Republicans who run for the House, and win the support of conservative voters around the country, have any fight in them at all? Did you vote for a Republican for Congress two months ago? Did this man or woman vow to "fight out-of-control federal spending" or some such thing? So why aren't they doing it? Every spending resolution that passes the House was allowed to be voted on by the Republican Speaker, and every such resolution required Republican votes to pass.
Yes, refusing to pass these resolutions would set up an epic political showdown on Capitol Hill. Yes, Republicans would get beaten up. Yes, the entire Washington estabishment would come down on them and pressure them to give in.
So they don't even try? They don't even go before the nation to defend the resolve to make Obama and Reid pass an actual budget - and not just any budget, but a fiscally responsible one at that? They can't even do that?
Then why did we elect these jackholes? What good is it doing the nation that they're running the House? Look, if Republicans appeal to the nation and demand budgetary responsibility, and the nation sides with the Obama/Reid agenda of out-of-control borrowing and debt, at least the nation made its choice and Republicans can say they did all they could. But meekly signing on every time one of these continuing resolutions comes before them is no way do what they all said they were going to do when they were campaigning, which was to fight irresponsible federal spending.
Any Republican who would like to become Speaker could take this stand if he or she wanted to. The only reason they don't is that they don't have the stomach for the fight.