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I’m not applauding the legislative deal that John Boehner and House Republicans cobbled together to extend the payroll tax cut. Some may say I’m being overly difficult – to which I would reply: “No, I’m not – I’m saying enough is enough. I’m saying that I am sick of Boehner’s ineptness and that I am sick of his feckless charade of leadership.”
I’m sick of the oft-regurgitated bromide that says, “We have to pick our battles.” I’m neither a political neophyte nor a Republican ideologue who blindly accepts the argument that “extending the payroll tax cuts was important, but this is even better because we’ve forced Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline project.” Those of us who have been around the political block know political speak when we hear it, and we know when politicians are playing us for fools.
First of all, Obama has already decided on the Keystone pipeline. He decided on it when he said he wasn’t going to decide on it. Boehner has accomplished nothing – zip, nada, zero – and giving him a pass and applause for failure is precisely why America stands with her toes extended over the abyss.
In his USA Today article, “Obama unlikely to change mind on oil pipeline,” David Jackson wrote: “Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council, noted that [the] proposals only require Obama to make a decision within 60 days. The State Department continues to conduct an environmental review of the Keystone XL oil pipeline project.”
He pointed out that Sperling told CNN: “I just referred back to what the State Department said, [that] it was very unlikely … that 60 days would be enough time for them to be able to guarantee to the American people that an adequate safety and health and environmental review had been done.”
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., echoed same when he said Obama [was] just going to use the option given to him not to let it go forward.”
Charles Krauthammer nailed it when he said, “Congress … reached a compromise on what must be one of the worst pieces of legislation in years.”
The legislation extends unemployment benefits and payroll-tax relief for a whopping two months, but it doesn’t create-encourage-provide one job. Worse, it makes Obama look like the unifier and it allows him to paint tea-party groups as the villains when they reject Boehner’s imbecilic deal making.
I don’t agree with Krauthammer often, but he’s absolutely spot-on when he says: “To begin with, what even minimally rational government enacts payroll-tax relief for just two months? As a matter of practicality alone, it makes no sense. The National Payroll Reporting Consortium, representing those who process paychecks, said of the two-month extension passed … just days before the new year: ‘there is insufficient lead time to accommodate the proposal.”
This summer, I wrote: “I told you Boehner could not be trusted – and once again I’m right. I was right on the budget talks, when not only did he not get a good deal but, as David Stockman, Mark Levin, myself, and others predicted, he caved in and then [misled us] about what he did get” (“I was right not to trust John Boehner,” July 9, 2011).
I continued: “Now he’s back to the same old tactics – bluster, bluff and then fold like a $3 pair of pants.” This drama will now be played out again, supposedly, when Congress returns from its Christmas vacation – at which time we will witness yet another kabuki theater of the absurd production, with Boehner accompanied by Eric Cantor (his stunt double in these dramas) traipsing from camera to camera, giving his best impressions of talking tough.
Boehner had a chance to stand firm in the budget cuts, and he didn’t. He had a chance to stand firm on the debt ceiling issue and, again, he did not. He may have picked up the tough talk heard in taprooms from his days as barroom worker, but he obviously didn’t pick up the part where you back up the tough talk with tough action. We need more real leadership and less empty rhetoric. Boehner and the Republican leadership have disappointed and failed us at every turn, and it is time to put an end to it.
It is misleading and dishonest for conservatives to singularly blame Democrats for the economic condition in which we find ourselves. Democrats may have had Congress for several years, but if we are to be honest, we cannot ignore what Boehner and company did when they were in charge of Congress. Even today, uncontrolled spending has neither subsided nor decreased under Boehner’s leadership. ( See: “How much of this did Republican leadership oppose?,” Dec. 22, 2011.)
I repeat – we cannot and will not have change until we remove the blinders from our eyes. Our nation and way of life are in peril. Our children and grandchildren are in jeopardy of losing everything America has stood for from its inception. Fighting for Boehner and company to do more of the same is not the answer. Congress works for us, and Obama would be less of an enemy if we had Republican leadership that understood guerilla warfare.