Back in August, House Speaker John Boehner got his wish.
He persuaded 218 Republicans in his majority caucus to give Barack Obama all the borrowing power he needed to continue to wreck the U.S. economy until Jan. 20, 2013.
He didn’t force any cuts in spending in exchange for a complete surrender of his one political nuclear weapon and even agreed to allow Congress to pass the buck on future cuts to an extra-constitutional “super-committee” that has only a week left before Boehner’s foolhardy deal triggers 20 percent cuts in the Defense Department.
So how’s that debt-limit deal working out for you, Mr. Boehner?
Any second thoughts?
Just think about the magnitude of the opportunity Boehner and the House Republicans passed up with the debt-limit deal. Only 22 House Republicans opposed raising the debt limit – and two of them are now running for president. As far as I can tell there is not a single Republican presidential candidate who will defend what House Republicans, who had all the power to stop the borrowing madness, did last August.
Had House Republicans acted like an opposition party actually opposed to borrowing and spending the money of future generations, they could have stopped it cold – and they should have. All they had to do was vote no to business as usual, and the federal government would have taken its biggest step back to constitutionally limited government in a hundred years.
Once they gave away their only bargaining chip, they handed Obama their political nuclear football.
It’s unforgivable. It’s unconscionable. It’s shameful. And not a one of the 218 House Republicans who voted wrong has, to my knowledge, ever apologized to the American people, admitted they made a mistake, that they were hoodwinked, or pledged not to do it again.
Even when Republicans have control of the House they simply don’t do what they promised to do – what got them elected in the first place!
And it’s not just the officeholders who are at fault. I blame the conservative political establishment – people like Grover Norquist, who started selling out a debt freeze even before the new Congress was sworn into office.
Saying no to taxes is meaningless if we and future generations are taxed without accountability through massive debt. Saying no to taxes is meaningless if government gets to spend whatever it wants by borrowing endlessly without constraint. Saying no to taxes is meaningless if the U.S. government doesn’t operate within the restrictions of the Constitution.
The GOP presidential candidates are talking, as they do every election year, about which departments and agencies of the federal government they would like to eliminate.
Do you realize that exercise would be unnecessary if only Republicans in the House had voted to stop borrowing? The cuts would have been done by now – they would have had to be made. Obama himself would have had no alternative than to bring spending under control, to spend no more than the Treasury brings in.
I suspect Republicans feared they would be blamed for the inevitable “pain” such cuts would have caused. But we don’t need elected officials who operate out of political fear. We need officeholders who do what’s right regardless of the political costs. And guess what? Republicans are still being blamed now for refusing to raise taxes.
In other words, here we go again.
That’s what we’re in store for in the next week.
All Republicans did in August was to forestall the inevitable – to kick the can down the road three months.
Let me conclude this missive with some praise for the heroes who did the right thing last August – 22 House Republicans who saw all this coming and recognized the opportunity they had to do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons:
Justin Amash (Mich.)
Michele Bachmann (Minn.)
Chip Cravaack (Minn.)
Jason Chaffetz (Utah)
Scott Desjarlais (Tenn.)
Tom Graves (Ga.)
Tim Huelskamp (Kans.)
Steve King (Iowa)
Tim Johnson (Ill.)
Tom McClintock (Calif.)
Mick Mulvaney (S.C.)
Ron Paul (Texas)
Connie Mack (Fla.)
Jim Jordan (Ohio)
Tim Scott (S.C.)
Paul Broun (Ga.)
Tom Latham (Iowa)
Jeff Duncan (S.C.)
Trey Gowdy (S.C.)
Steve Southerland (Fla.)
Joe Walsh (Ill.)
Joe Wilson (S.C.)