Hammering out a deal in the U.S. Senate, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can only twist House Speaker John Boehner’s arm so much to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling. All the Senate’s efforts will come to naught, if Boehner doesn’t call for a full House vote on the measure. “We’ve make tremendous progress,” said Reid, though the fate of any Senate-sponsored bill remains murky in the House. Boehner’s rebellious Tea Party caucus wants nothing to do with any compromise short of stopping President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. “We’ve had a good day,” said McConnell, acknowledging progress but not knowing full-well the House is not the Senate. Calling the discussions “substantial progress,” McConnell has no idea what Boehner will do in the House.
Whether the White House admits it or not, the fate of the U.S. government lies in Boehner’s hands. It’s his call whether or not to place Reid and McConnell’s new bill up for a full House vote. What’s become abundantly clear is that House and Senate Tea Party leaders Rep. Steven King (R-Iowa) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) would rather default the government than let Obamacare go ahead. Boehner has a fateful decision to make about his career and the U.S. government: Placate the Tea Party or put the Senate bill up for a full House vote. If Boehner puts the measure up for a vote, he’ll incur the wrath of the Tea Party, who’ve already threatened to eject him as speaker. It’s doubtful that the Tea Party upstarts have enough clout—or moxy—to mutiny against Boehner. Even if Boehner decides to put the Senate bill up or a full House vote, he’s done lasting damage to the Republican brand.
All but the most fanatical conservative GOP zealots support the government shutdown and threats against the debt limit. Boehner and the Tea Party have almost certainly driven independents away from the GOP for the foreseeable future. Whether you back or oppose Obamacare, mainstream voters don’t support shutting down the government and defaulting the nation. Waiting until Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s Oct. 17 deadline has created public panic, unsure whether the government would meet obligations to Social Security and Medicare recipients. Boehner knows that any Senate deal that doesn’t include de-funding or delaying Obamacare won’t fly with the Tea Party. His decision to put the bill on the floor for a full House vote runs counter to vociferous opponents of the president’s health plan. Defying the Tea Party puts Boehner’s credibility—and job—on the line.
Going down to the wire doesn’t sit well with Wall Street, global financial markets and mainstream voters looking for some stability. Boehner knows that without some provision to delay or stop Obamacare, the Tea Party won’t go along with Senate bill. If Boehner doesn’t stroke-out by Thursday’s vote, he’s going to have to pull the rug out from underneath the Tea Party. There’s enough common sense left in the House to join Democrats to pass a bill to reopen the government and extend credit to the Treasury. “So far throughout this crisis, Boehner and his team have put caucus unity ahead of the good of the country,” said “Slate’s” Matthew Yglesias. There’s no way out for Boehner other than do the right thing: Put the Senate bill on the floor for a full House Vote. Causing more distress to taxpayers or world markets continues to pound the Republican brand into oblivion.
Whatever minor concessions are given to the Tea Party in the Senate bill, it won’t be enough. Senate Tea Party leader Cruz has already pressed ahead with his intent to default the country. He believes a major economic calamity between now and next year’s midterm election would help Republicans. What he doesn’t get is that the public, especially independents, blame Republicans, making it next to impossible for the GOP to win national elections. “If Boehner allows a vote, the Senate deal likely passes the House,” with a minority of House Republicans, said “PowerLine’s” Lee Mirenoff. Boehner’s decision to put the bipartisan Senate bill for a full House vote comes down to this: Compromise or etch your name into the first default in U.S. history. Tea Party leaders in the House and Senate don’t care about Boehner’s dilemma: They only want to stop Obamacare.
No matter what the Tea Party threats to upend Boehner if he puts the Senate bill to a full House vote, he’ll continue as House Speaker. Putting federal workers and U.S. economy ahead of political squabbles is the right thing to do. Congress has a real problem of managing an insurgent minority that has practically brought the country to its knees. Whatever problems the U.S. has with the national debt, it wasn’t much of a concern when the last Republican occupied the White House. Mainstream journalists need to question the asinine statements by the Tea Party about federal budget deficits and the national debt. They can’t cite one reputable economist that backs their approach to the U.S. economy. Obama gets no credit from the GOP for five-year-long bull market, cutting federal deficits in half and adding over 5 million jobs. Only the Tea Party knows what’s best for the country.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.