It seems like eons ago. But, it was just a few years. I was very optimistic, at the time. We had a wild wave of conservatives surge in the mid-term elections and sweep Republicans into the majority of the House of Representatives. Only four years later, even more optimism was buoyed when the Repubs won a majority in the Senate!
At that time, and examining their previous voting records, the rise to power by both, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority leader came because of their supposed conservative credentials.
As it turns out, neither had conservative convictions. I was elated to hear Boehner was stepping down. I’m disappointed Rep. Ryan seems to be the heir apparent, now. Actually, he seems to be a compromise between actual conservatives and establishment (status quo) Repubs. It’s not that I dislike Ryan, its just that he’s not a conservative. I really can’t believe anyone agreed to his list of demands before they “enlisted” him for the job.
But, this post isn’t about the next Speaker, it’s about Boehner and his latest “compromise”.
Congressional leaders have announced a bipartisan budget compromise that would fund the federal government for two years and suspend the so-called “debt ceiling” into early 2017. The White House has endorsed the plan. If enacted, the agreement would lift caps on both domestic and defense spending imposed by the 2011-triggered sequester — one of the few government-reducing achievements of the Republican Congress. These immediate-term spending increases are offset by future cuts and entitlement reforms, GOP supporters say, prompting outgoing House Speaker John Boehner to pronounce the bargain “a good deal,” even if it “isn’t perfect:”
“Having listened to our members, and listened to the American people, we have a budget agreement. This agreement will protect our economy and reduces the deficit. It secures more long-term entitlement reforms. It strengthens our national security and brings more certainty to next year’s appropriations process. It protects more Americans from ObamaCare and rejects all of the tax increases as proposed by the administration. The agreement isn’t perfect by any means, but the alternative was a ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase without any additional support for our troops and without any entitlement reforms. So this is a good deal for our troops, for taxpayers, and for the American people.” …..
It’s a crap deal. Later in the article it notes, and I wholly agree, that it’s nothing more than the typical smoke and mirrors bs we’re used to seeing from Washington.
It boils down to we’re going to spend more money today, and promise to cut spending tomorrow. What they don’t actually go into detail about is Obama’s wish for more domestic give-away programs. Indeed, he threatened a veto of a Senate bill which lifted the caps on the military spending but, didn’t for the domestic spending.
In essence, what Boehner is doing is allowing Obama to spend money as he wishes, but, then forces the president (1 and 1/2 terms away) to be confronted with the fiscal dilemma of paying for the money Obama will spend. In other words, Boehner most likely just handcuffed a Republican president of the near future. If the POTUS at that time is a Republican, then, Boehner is forcing him (or her) to pay for the spending Obama wants to do. Does that make any sense? Does Boehner believe Obama is going to spend the money more wisely or better than a future Repub POTUS? It seems that’s what he’s saying. We could, of course, imagine not actually spending more money, but, then, an establishment Repub can’t really imagine that. Amirite?
But, it gets worse ……
…… What to make of all of this? I’m inclined to agree with conservative wonk and analyst Philip Klein, who burnishes his credentials as a pragmatist vis-a-vis the institutional constraints of divided government before savaging the pending legislation as the veritable definition of “GOP surrender:”
During the era of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, it’s become popular in conservative circles to blast Republican leadership for surrendering. These charges, in my view, were often not fair. I argued that the debt ceiling had to be raised, government had to be funded, and that it would have been impossible to extend all of the Bush tax cuts following President Obama’s reelection. As much as I’ve opposed Obamacare, I disagreed tactically with Obamacare opponents who believed it would be possible to stop the program without control of the White House through a “defunding” push. In other words, I’m not one to use the term “surrender” loosely. But now that I’ve had a chance to dig through the details of the budget deal Boehner announced Tuesday morning, I’m comfortable saying: This is what Republican surrender looks like.
Klein builds a withering case, accusing Republican leadership of trading near-term spending spikes for magical spending restraint years from now, and ridicules Boehner et al for rummaging through a “Mary Poppins-like bag of gimmicks” to achieve a patina of fiscal responsibility. Perhaps most cynical is the legislation’s extension of sequester-level caps into 2024 and 2025 as a means of partially “paying for” tens of billions in new federal outlays over the next two years. He notes that the Ryan/Murray compromise of 2013 relied on a similar trick, meaning that this deal would represent the second instance of bipartisan majorities jettisoning mandatory spending restraint in the near term by pretending that they’ll enforce strict caps a decade hence. “It’s pure fantasy,” Klein writes. As for the heralded Social Security reforms (the first in decades!), a major element of those proposals simply pushes money from one pot into another, holding off impending insolvency over here by weakening the program’s fiscal health over there — “solving” nothing:
There’s more chicanery when it comes to Social Security. The fund that finances the Social Security disability program is expected to run out of money at some point next year. Democrats led by Obama have been proposing diverting a portion of the payroll taxes that are intended to finance Social Security’s retirement benefits to help shore up the disability program. [<—my bold] “The last thing Congress should do is raid the retirement trust fund,” the GOP’s own budget, released in March, reads. As Republicans rightly pointed out, when this trick has been used in the past, all it’s done is delay the problem and worsen the finances of Social Security’s retirement program. But the Boehner deal relies on this kind of reallocation to put off the immediate crisis from 2016 to 2022.
Great!!! So, we get to fund people’s disability for things like being obese and alcoholism at the expense of actually paying the retirement funds of people who paid into the funds, presumably for their retirement. Thanks Boehner!!!! You asshole! But, you got yours, right? So, …….
So, recently, some Repubs have issued a resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Among other things, they accused Koskinen of betraying the public trust.
What is our recourse against a person who betrays such a trust before he steps down from said position of trust?