Debt Ceiling time came without the circus that made the United States a worldwide laughing stock back in October. Now, that’s not to say House Republicans didn’t try to put up the big top and work all three rings.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) expressed the Democratic position that the full faith and credit of this country is not negotiable. The Democratic Caucus, under her leadership, fought for a clean bill. A bill not loaded with Republican pet political posturing. President Obama maintained his clean bill, no negation, no hostage taking position. Thus, he effectively boxed in the House GOP again. The question was did they care? Would we see a replay of last Autumn’s suicide charge?
The Tea Party had already made it clear they weren’t going to vote to increase the Debt Limit. Period.
Earlier plans had a couple House favorites tied to raising the Ceiling. One was to force approval of the controversial Keystone pipeline. Another was tying the debt to, wait for it, repealing parts of “Obamacare”. Yeah, they’re still beating that dead horse.
Those plans were DOA to the Democratic Caucus. They stood with the President’s demand for a clean bill with no negotiating for the debt being held hostage. So naturally, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee took Dems to task for not negotiating and trying to force a default.
Our home boy, Speaker Boehner (R-OH) even with the candy presented with the first two plans had a revolt on his hands. The same Tea Party anarchists who gave us the shutdown, some vowed not to vote for a bill that didn’t force some kind of draconian cuts. Most refused to raise the limit. They don’t seem to understand this is paying for the spending that was already approved by Congress. So Boehner went to plan C.
Plan C was to restore COLA cuts to working age Veterans Pensions. Well, the Tea Party Caucus went nuts. (There is a discussion as to whether they were already nuts)There was no way they’d agree to raising the Debt Ceiling and at the same time raise spending. These guys love the troops. Veterans, not so much.
The Democrats stood firm about a clean bill.
Now if The Speaker had control of his Caucus, like past Speakers did, there would be no need to even listen to what the Democrats had to say. Somehow I don’t see Hastert and DeLay putting up with constant mutiny and outright rebellion when they ran the House. DeLay could twist arms to the point of a shoulder dislocation when need be.
Boehner’s problems began with the 2010 Tea Party wave. The incoming Freshman were staunchly anti-status quo. They saw establishment Republican as a larger problem than the Democrats. They had this mistaken idea that the House could run roughshod over a Democratic Controlled Senate and the President. They seemed to have no conception of how a Constitutional government actually works. They voted to repeal the ACA 40 times knowing it was never going to pass the Senate or be signed into law. The screamed tyranny and tried to figure out a way to impeach the President because that worked out so well in the 90′s.
Rather than compromise (heresy) they simply voted no on everything the Senate sent them. When you have no actual vision for the nation’s future you simply go with what you’re against.
Speaker Boehner, faced with these Tea Party bomb throwers, was never able to establish control of the Republican Caucus. He and majority Leader Cantor are unable to exercise any discipline and come up with a coherent plan of what the House can do. So without strong leadership the House has become the Broadway of Political Theater.
During the shutdown Boehner found out just how weak he was. For a couple months, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) was the de facto leader of the Republican Caucus leading them off the cliffs of sanity.
During the negotiations in 2011 the President found Speaker Boehner could not deliver the votes for any reasonable compromise. More than once they had to start over when the Tea Party stood in fierce denial of sanity. As it was he needed Democratic votes to pass the deal that gave us the sequester.
This week, Boehner saw he had two choices. Let the Tea Party rebellion control the House again in rocking the world economy or turn once again to the Minority Leader to deliver her well-disciplined Caucus. He chose the latter.
The vote was 221 for and 201 against. Only 28 Republicans voted against default. They were joined by two, count ‘em, two Dems.
Not a single House Republican from Ohio, other than Speaker Boehner, voted for the plan. This group includes two so-called moderates, the 12th‘s Pat Tiberi and the 15th‘s Steve Stivers.
Conservative groups are expected to go after House and Senate Republicans that voted yes, throwing money at any primary challenges from the right.
Confronted by the harsh realities on Capital Hill Speaker Boehner, political hack that he is, did the only thing he could. He called on the loyal opposition to do what he couldn’t get his Caucus to do. Pass the bill.
Usually it is a good thing to have the Speaker of the House from your State. Not this time. Boehner is an embarrassment and is one of the weakest Speakers in modern history. With Tuesday’s vote, he showed he has a runaway Caucus. And the brakes are gone.
A side note, Ohio’s Senators split. Brown for, Portman against.
Read more from Thomas at An Old Lefty.