03.14.2013 0

Boehner: GOP a ‘minority party’

By Robert RomanoIn an exclusive interview with nationally syndicated talk show host Sean Hannity, House Speaker John Boehner all but ruled out using the debt ceiling as leverage to pass the House Republican proposal to balance the budget within 10 years.

“Do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States government over Obamacare? That’s a very tough argument to make.” Boehner asked of Hannity. The House proposal, which would cut trillions of spending off the current baseline, repeals the new health care law. But Boehner does not want to attach it to the debt ceiling.

Hannity noted that the government will raise $2.7 trillion of revenue for 2013, as projected by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which would more than pay for approximately $350 billion of gross interest payments should the debt ceiling be reached.

But Boehner talked that down, too, suggesting that the Treasury would run into cash flow problems even with a change to the law. He seemed to ignore a proposal by Sen. Pat Toomey that addressed that objection by giving limited authority to Treasury to raise the debt ceiling by enough to borrow to meet priority payments when there is such a proposal.

And the House Speaker said he would not use a continuing resolution as leverage either, to avert a government shutdown. “Our goal is to cut spending, not to shut down the government. And if we were to put Obamacare [repeal] into the continuing resolution and send it over to the Senate, we were risking shutting down the government. That’s not our goal,” he said.

Boehner added, “It is very difficult to impose our will on them,” referring to the Senate and White House.

In short, the Republican leader has seemingly taken every tool at his disposal off the table that might give House Republicans a fighting chance to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.

All this, despite the fact that if it was not for the debt ceiling fight, there would never have been a sequestration at all that slashes $1 trillion of budget authority over the next ten years. If it were not for the April 2011 continuing resolution, another $38.5 billion of budget authority over several years would not have been slashed, either.

Boehner claimed his approach in the 112th Congress had not worked, but the fact is, using the leverage he had was the only reason the American people got any cuts at all. Those cuts are really to his and House Republicans’ credit. Which is why they need to keep fighting.

Sadly, this time around, leadership’s reluctance to have a fight over spending makes an upcoming vote on the Republican budget nothing more than symbolic window dressing.

It all but guarantees that the national debt, now $16.7 trillion, will hit $20 trillion in 2016, Obama’s final year in office. After that, it will rise to $25 trillion by 2022, and rack up tens of trillions more in the decades that follow.

It guarantees that the health care law will continue to be implemented and fully funded, including expanding Medicaid, funding the state insurance exchanges, and enforcing the individual and employer mandates to purchase health insurance.

It ensures that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has seen fit to unlawfully regulate carbon dioxide and water as harmful pollutants under the Clean Air and Water Acts, will be fully funded. That the agency will continue its war coal and other carbon based fuels unabated.

It allows the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which was lawlessly seated with phony “recess” appointments when Congress was not even in a congressional recess, to continue implementing big labor’s agenda.

It leaves Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in government conservatorship, nationalizing housing finance, and Sallie Mae in government hands, nationalizing higher education finance. It leaves Dodd-Frank untouched.

It allows the Federal Reserve and the International Monetary Fund to continue bailing out financial institutions that bet poorly on U.S. housing and European sovereign debt.

In short, by refusing to use the debt ceiling or spending prioritization option or the continuing resolution as leverage, Boehner guarantees that Obama’s agenda will continue to be implemented without any interruption from the House of Representatives.

Members of Congress will undoubtedly respond that elections have consequences, and surely they do. But this is not what the American people voted for House Republicans to do when they claimed the majority in 2010 and when they were reelected in 2012. It was to fight.

The Speaker defined Republicans as a “minority party.” But that’s not true. They are in the majority of the House. They do have a say. They do have power — if only they would choose to use it.

But at some point, the majority’s accommodation of the Obama agenda will begin to look a lot like tacit consent or worse a wholesale abandonment of the battle, leaving voters to wonder why they voted for them in the first place.

If Republicans do not fight, after a while, the American people may not see the difference, and then the party really will be a minority. Then, we’ll all wish they had fought when they had the chance.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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