Sunday, April 10, 2011

In Defense of Speaker Boehner

Speaker John Boehner knew that a government shutdown was a no-win situation for everyone involved, but in particular for Republicans.

The social issues that bleed into fiscal issues were deal-breakers until they were not. It is feasible to argue that because Boehner was persistent and steady in his negotiations, by stripping the riders out of the budget agreement, now the GOP will be allowed to voice opposition to them with debate and a vote. This would not have happened if the agreement went forth with the riders. The Senate would not have allowed the vote - Leader Reid is on record as saying as much - and the President would have certainly vetoed it. In short, a shutdown would have happened. Then the predictable would have be put into place - the Democrats would have portrayed the Republicans as voting against poor women and those without health care.

Senator Reid went so far as to imply on the Senate floor that his wife and daughters would be denied health care if Planned Parenthood was de-funded. Does anyone believe that the Reid women seek medical care at Planned Parenthood facilities? Of course not. But that was the talking point and it would remain so until the bitter end.

Though frustration voiced by some in Tea Party wing of the Republican party is understandable, I would urge caution. Speaker Boehner and the GOP leadership is not the enemy. The Democrats are the enemy. Speaker Boehner hears the Tea Party loud and clear. He stood firm against the ever increasing Obama budget options and said a strong no to them. He was able to negotiate billions in spending cuts where there was a zero as a starting number from the Democrats. Remember, they intended to increase spending as though there was no deficit crisis looming over us. This is for the remaining year, not the 2011 budget. The Democrats failed to pass a budget for year 2010 and that is why we were in the quagmire to begin with last week.

Now, thanks to strong support of budget cuts, a marker has been placed at the table. No longer will Democrats be allowed to steamroll over anyone in opposition to some sanity injected into spending arguments. The Tea Party will hold the Republican leadership's feet to the fire and that is a good thing. It is not productive, however, to bellyache about cuts that are not exactly at the number that may have been wished for. That is politics and that is life. Harsh but true. It is important to remain engaged and follow the leadership style of Ronald Reagan - that of happy warriors. The GOP has the Democrats on the run and that is fairly amazing, considering that the GOP has a majority in only the House and doesn't control the White House. It is important to remember that deliberate, practical motion will continue on to bring about the change demanded in the mandates of the 2010 elections.

It is crucial to remain united. Most Tea Party politicians have understood this process. What do you think was behind Rep Allen West, a Tea Party favorite, as he clearly and publicly voiced unwavering support for Speaker Boehner? Rep Michele Bachmann is a different story and I would encourage you to look at that vote of no from her. She is seriously contemplating a run for President and she was the first to use the Tea Party to form a conservative caucus as the Tea Party brought her lots of publicity. Not to be cynical, but honest here - it is obvious she intends to use Tea Party support as her base. That's ok, but the Tea Party folks should be aware of it. Rep West, however, chooses to accomplish the conservative agenda instead of sacrificing Republican victories for personal gain. Rep West voted yes.

The very best reward for Speaker Boehner's leadership, besides the fiscal victory, was the fact that even the most Obama-friendly of the press had to admit the Democrats were sorely disappointed and the GOP was victorious.

What followed was a budget compromise deal that irked Democrats for many of the same reasons this most recent compromise with Republicans has muted the joy about an averted shutdown among progressive members in the House.

The tax deal gave Republicans much of what they demanded — an extension of tax cuts for the wealthy — in exchange for the extension of unemployment benefits for the poor. And this most recent budget deal gives Republicans more in spending cuts than House Speaker John Boehner had asked for. In exchange, funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health issues were spared.

At least some Democrats now say that those cuts were too deep, and will disproportionately affect the poor.

Got that? They admit that the social issues tacked on as riders will be voted on in the Senate after Reid had to concede that in the negotiations. Had that not be negotiated, the riders would have remained and the bill would have gone no where. And the issues would not have received a vote. The far left was denied their government shutdown. They were gleefully wishing for one to allow themselves an opportunity to throw mud at the GOP. You and I know that the press carries water for Obama and the Democrats - they are all on the same side of the political aisle. Why give them at gift?

Liberals are now described as "disheartened" by their pals in the press. What's not to love about that?

This is the beginning, not the end. The next battle begins as the budget for 2011 is hashed out and the balanced budget amendment comes to the floor. Politics is the art of persuasion. The arguments are tedious and predictable. The key is unity. Without unity, the Democrats win. We can't afford any more of that.

Be of good cheer. Kudos to Speaker Boehner. Happy warriors.

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