Despite, thousands of letters, emails and phone calls, John Boehner was re-elected speaker of the House of Representatives, but it wasn't an overwhelming show of support. Twenty-five brave Republican congressmen withstood pressure from within the conference and were willing to suffer retaliation in order to cast a vote for someone else or simply vote "present." It was the largest number of members to vote against a sitting speaker from their own party in 100 years.
Boehner ran up the white flag of surrender shortly after the election. It's going to be a long, disappointing two years. That said, here are my predictions for the new Congress, predictions I hope and pray will not come true.
- John Boehner and his Senate counterpart, Mitch McConnell, will be as inept as ever at selling their ideas and their agenda to the American people. They lack passion, clarity and purpose. Therefore, they will continue to hide behind their staffs and simply will not put their time and energy into the kind of high-profile interviews and speeches that are the stuff of retail politics.
- The Keystone Pipeline will be approved, with or without President Obama. It will be the Republicans' crowning achievement of the 114th Congress.
- There will be a bill passed aimed at strengthening border security. In the process, Republicans will either approve some type of amnesty or agree to let Obama's amnesty slide. There will be an increase in the number of H-1B visas, which have thrown so many highly skilled Americans out of work. Most of those who have broken into the country will be allowed to stay, and in the end, the borders will be no more secure than they are right now.
- Barring a major intervention by the Supreme Court, Obamacare will remain the law of the land with only a few minor changes. There will be a repeal of the medical device tax and possibly the employer mandate, but we will continue our march toward socialized medicine.
- The debt ceiling will be raised as needed without any reforms to Social Security or other entitlement spending, which is driving us toward insolvency. Likewise, there will be no will in this Congress to balance the budget.
- This new Republican-led Congress will fail to pass all 12 appropriations bills on time. There will be another omnibus bill at the end of the year that will contain a plethora of goodies for those in power. We will not hear much about it due to backroom deals with Obama and the Democrats. The big spenders in Washington will be happy to keep their mouths shut, and their friends in the media will cooperate.
- At the end of the session we will be carrying a deficit that will be within 1 percent of the one we have now. There will be no real progress toward reining in spending.
- There will be more excuses such as, "We can't really do anything because we control only one-third of the government. Boohoo! Sob, sob! You must elect a Republican president and give us even greater majorities in each house of Congress. Then we really will do something. We promise."
- There will be no reforms of House and Senate rules that would free our representatives to vote their consciences in leader elections. The House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle will continue to run campaign committees that will be funded by big corporations and the rich who wish to curry favor with them. These leaders will then funnel this money to new congressmen and those in tight races who will be beholden to them.
- This year's freshmen who aren't successfully "house broken" will be more disenchanted with Boehner than ever. They will realize they made a big mistake by not voting against him in 2015 when they had the chance.
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Does that mean I am without hope for the country? No, but we simply cannot continue to send our representatives to Congress and expect those representatives to do the right thing. They need our input. They need our encouragement and they need accountability.
If your congressmen and senators are Republicans and they cast a vote for Boehner or McConnell, they must be put on notice: If my predictions come true – and I sincerely hope they won't – you need a pledge from them to dump their leaders in 2017. If they won't make that pledge, be prepared to find suitable replacements and remove them from office.
Media wishing to interview Jane Chastain, please contact [email protected].
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