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May 29th, 2017

Insight

Why Boehner Mattered

Bruce Bialosky

By Bruce Bialosky

Published Oct. 5, 2015

Why Boehner Mattered

A lot of people and/or groups were taking credit for John Boehner stepping down as Speaker of the House. Listening to his press conference I believe him that he was planning to do it, but the timing was moved up a few weeks by his inspiration during the Pope's visit. The joy that some people displayed expressed a particular naiveté in regard to what they expected to happen during Boehner's term running the House.

One of the mantras around today is that Republican voters were told "If we just win the House we will be able to change things"; then we were told "If we just win the Senate we will be able to change things." I don't remember candidates saying that. I don't remember Reince Priebus, Republican Party Chair, saying that or the leaders of the House or Senate.

First, it is always better to win than lose. Having Republicans in office is a lot better than having left-wing Democrats in office. Second, the best anyone could ever promise is to put a stop to the efforts of Obama and his partners in Congress -- Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. Can someone actually say that we were better off when Harry Reid was majority leader of the Senate?

Here is one thing for you. Since the Republicans took over the House in 2011 the federal budget share of GDP has shrunk about 3%. That means the federal deficit was not falling just because the government was taking on more money. It was because it was spending less. Does anyone believe that would have happened with Speaker Pelosi in charge?

The fact is Obama is the most recalcitrant president in American history. Whereas presidents like Reagan, Bush and Clinton managed to work with Congresses of the opposition party, once Obama lost his Congress he made nearly no effort to work with Congress. Everything became confrontational. One wishes he was as confrontational with ISIS or Putin as he is with Republicans.

That is why our government is currently operating through courts. Obama has been sued and lost more than any other president. Obama's EPA lost once again this week. Boehner won the first lawsuit that established that Congress has standing to sue the President regarding Obamacare. It is probable the reason Boehner was the first to establish that Congress has standing is because Obama is the first president to be so lawless in his operation of the government. The "Constitutional Lawyer President" has shown himself to either have the least understanding of the Constitution or the least regard for it.

There has been a lot made about the divisiveness within the Republican delegation in the House, and that there has been a group of congressmen wanting to replace Boehner complaining that he has not been tough enough with Obama. The fact is this is one of the largest delegations of Republican representatives ever. Because of that there is going to be a significant political diversity within the spectrum of being a Republican. What voters want from Republicans in Utah differs from New York from Alabama and from Florida. They may not agree on everything, but they certainly agree on core principles. The major differences are on tactics.

The difference between these Republicans and when the Democrats held a larger majority in the 111th Congress between 2009-2011 is the way Boehner allowed a freer participation from his members.

You may remember that in that 111th Congress there was a large group of Blue Dog Democrats who were perceived as more moderate than the rest of the caucus. In 2009, I wrote about the 52 Blue Dogs. Nancy Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel convinced them to support Obama's policies. They became cannon fodder and over the next two election cycles they were wiped out of the House, feeding the new Republican majority. Henry Waxman (congressman from California at the time) even made a comment that the Democrats might be better off without them. The remaining 188 Democratic members of Congress are almost ideologically pure on the left. They achieved having no philosophical splits by becoming a significant minority. I don't call that winning.

If there was any mistake made by Boehner and other members of leadership during his term as Speaker it was believing that Obama would act like his predecessors and attempt a compromise with the controlling party of the Congress to achieve some common goals for the benefit of the country. After losing Congress, President Clinton became more successful as he found working partners from the opposition party to pursue effective legislation. Unfortunately, Obama wants none of that. He would rather attempt to circumvent the Congress through executive action, whether that be blatantly illegal or not, like his order regarding the illegal immigrants that was promptly stopped by the courts.

If there ever was an action the Republicans should stuff down Obama's throat it was the Iran Deal. The Senate voted 98-1 for the Corker-Menendez agreement that brought the Iranian agreement to Congress. The Democrats then turned their backs on their own deal and filibustered it. It is the most significant foreign agreement in our lifetimes and it should have landed on Obama's desk to sign or veto. If there ever was a time for Republicans to invoke cloture this was it. But toward what end? It was not going to pass and then when the Democrats take control of the Senate -- and someday that will occur -- they will use the same procedure to enact something no Republican would ever want.

The same goes for defunding Planned Parenthood. I am totally in agreement with that and believe the funds should be shifted to the hundreds of other medical facilities capable of providing quality care to women. But shutting down the government where our employees get paid time off and we get nothing is just utter stupidity. Running the United States government should not be based on symbolic gestures.

Let's spend our time coalescing around a top flight candidate to win the presidency. Let's also attempt to maintain control of the Senate. That should be our focus instead of beating up each other or beating up John Boehner.

Boehner was not the problem. He was never the problem. Obama is the problem and all we can do is minimize the damage he is doing to our country and replace him on January 20, 2017.

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Bruce Bialosky is the founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and a former Presidential appointee.

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