Thursday, July 28, 2011

Speaker of Nothing

It looks like there won't be a vote on the Boehner debt ceiling bill by the House tonight, which I think translates as :"Nope, still haven't got the votes."

Wow.  It has got to suck to be John Boehner.  On one hand, he is Speaker of the House--with a pretty good size GOP majority. On the other hand, this debt ceiling business has really seemed to display a problem with either his leadership, or the party itself (or what the hell, both.)  This Congress has managed to be startlingly unproductive--and the problem has a lot to do with the House.  Let them make a symbolic vote that won't pass the Senate, like defunding NPR or stripping funding for women's health care--and they are all over it.  Ask them to do something important, and they'll just, I dunno, go look for some post offices to name.

It would be too easy to blame the scads of freshmen GOP congresspeople who came in on the Tea Party wave, but it doesn't look like they've necessarily been the biggest problem for Boehner--it's been a little bit of everybody.



Take Eric Cantor--he hasn't been what you'd call helpful until recently. Take Michele Bachmann,   Larry and Curly Louie Gohmert and Steve King, with their somewhat dubious plan to pay the interest only and some payments to US troops (a thing the US Treasury doesn't have discretion to do.) Oh, and really, take Paul Broun, and his uniquely stupid notion of "lowering the debt ceiling"--I envision all the money we'll unspend piling up next to our worthless government issued Obamacare Card of Yankee Aggression.  And of course, I don't think Boehner has helped himself very much--dragging this thing out and seeming to conduct some political theater to do a bit of old-fashioned "fiscal conservative" debt-hawking is one thing--but it only counts if the timing is right.

The deadline is August 2.  This debt ceiling thing usually goes without a hitch.  This is not expert timing.

Also, President Obama isn't helping John Boehner very much.  (Go figure!)  It seems to me that the point of all this on the House side would be to score points off of the White House. I stick to my claim that what looks like "giving away the store" on Obama's side is a way of deflecting the politics--it's not about point-scoring. Obama looks very centrist (yeah--I don't have to like it to get why he's doing it) and like he's trying, while Boehner et als look eager to take a deal that shafts the poor and protects the wealthy from higher taxes.

Even Rush Limbaugh, Rush Limbaugh, who Boehner went out of his way to consult with, has blasted him on the current bill, which Boehner just can't find enough votes for, and will regardless be killed in the Senate.

It could really make one cry, if one was so inclined. I'm not so inclined, but, it's sad, all right. A good portion of his caucus is still performing for a Tea Party whose numbers are waning (events are being cancelled nationwide due to lack of interest, and attendance at existing events is getting smaller), and whose influence, inflated as it was by the media (I'm looking at you, FOX Mushroom Farm), hasn't yet detumesced accordingly. The result--incoherence and ineffectiveness. 

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