Poor John Boehner. The Ohio Congressman who smokes Marlboros, drinks Merlot and ascended to the House speakership in 2011, made possible by big wins in 2010 fueled by Tea Party activists' anger over President Obama and his legislative achievements—the Affordable Care Act most notably—isn't getting the love his Constitutional position normally engenders from his rank and file.
Cruising on Cruz control
With the end and the start of a new Federal fiscal year looming on Oct. 1, Speaker Boehner finds himself unable to control the feistiest members of his own GOP Majority Caucus in Washington, who have decided to stand their ground on lowering government spending by linking continued government funding with a demand to scuttle the president's healthcare law.
He's probably also annoyed that a long-shot, upstart businessman from back in his safe and reliably Republican district back home in southwestern Ohio has decided to challenge him in the Republican primary next year.
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Eric Gurr, the owner of Best & Brightest Inc., a computer consulting firm in West Chester Twp, said he has filed his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to campaign against Speaker John Boehner in the Republican primary set for May 6. Gurr told the Dayton Daily News that times have changed and that Boehner has become separated from his constituency. "It’s just time for a change and we need to get our nation focused and on the right path. And that’s not just Syria; that’s our monetary policy, that’s our fiscal policy."
But back in Washington, with fear of a government shutdown becoming more real each day as Republicans vow to stand their ground against President Obama and a Senate controlled by Democrats, Boehner's leadership, which has been called into question many times before, appears to be on both cruise and Cruz control, referring to Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the firebrand Tea Party disciple who is urging Boehner and House Republicans to show backbone and suffer the slings and arrows coming their way after government is shut down.
Speaking in Washington today, Speaker Boehner said the HOuse will pass a plan tomorrow to protect Americans from the president’s health care law without affecting the rest of government. When it comes to the health care law, he said, the debate in the House has been settled. "I think our position is very clear: The law is a train wreck, and it’s going to raise costs, it’s destroying American jobs - and it must go."
Boehner said this "fight will move over to the Senate – where it belongs. I expect my Senate colleagues to be up for the battle."
His Senate colleagues will be led by Sen. Cruz, who in the first year of a six-year term has little to fear from any kickback his party or individual members receive from shutting down the government. Standing their ground by demanding the White House agree to deeper cuts, especially with so-called entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security that constitute a social safety net for tens of millions of Americans, is what Cruz has proselytized in the weeks running up to the end of the fiscal year.
Posted on Cruz's Facebook page today is this Alamo-like declaration of war on the ACA: "We've got to stand together, fight with every breath in our bodies, and stop the biggest job-killer in America #DefundObamacare."
In the summer of 2013, Cruz embarked on a nationwide tour sponsored by The Heritage Foundation to promote the congressional effort to defund the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or else shut down the government, according to Wikipedia. Then in September, House Republicans criticized Cruz for saying that when the effort fails in the Senate, it would be up to the House Republicans to "hold their ground and shut down the government."
OBama will vote no
In yet another attempt designed to daunt Cruz and Boehner on what some say is a suicide mission that can only further damage the Republican brand, President Obama weighed in again Thursday on why he will veto any bill that looks like Congressional Republicans want it to.
In a statement of administration policy relative to House Joint Resolution 59, the so-called Continuing Resolution to fund government into the future, sponsored by Rep. Rogers [R-KY), the President strongly opposes it. The White House said HJR 59 "advances a narrow ideological agenda that threatens our economy and the interests of the middle class." It would also defund the Affordable Care Act, denying millions of hard-working middle class families the security of affordable health coverage.
President Obama will veto the resolution, as proposed, if it comes to his desk. But if it comes in a different form, one arrived at through bi-partisan negotiations, the president's statement left the door open a crack should Republicans, who are saying putting the process on Cruz control will drive the GOP brand off a cliff in time to return control of the House next year to Democrats, come to their senses and take the process off Cruz control to avoid driving off the cliff of shutting the government down or ultimately burning down the house should the nation default on debt payments already accumulated from previous spending authority by Congress.
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The Administration is willing to support a short-term continuing resolution to allow critical Government functions to operate without interruption, the White House said. Working with the Congress in the future on appropriations legislation for the remainder of the fiscal year, "that preserves critical national priorities, protects national security, and makes investments to spur economic growth and job creation for years to come," is all possible.
Surviving the fallout
While Boehner, who has been in Congress for 22 years now, and Cruz will survive the fallout from taking the country for a ride or even over a cliff of no return, the fantasy Democrats hope becomes a reality is that Republicans, whose brand name identity already hovers in the 20 percent rage, will give voters next year every reason possible to unelect them in November of 2014, enabling a a united Congress to allow Obama go out in a "blaze of glory," that will lead to the election of Hillary Clinton for two terms starting in 2016 as Republicans are relegated to controlling individual state districts, legislatures and governorships.
As a consequence of driving on Cruz control today, Republicans may well cut themselves loose in the future from winning national elections.
As Robert Kutter writing in the American Prospect observed, "It is said that most Tea Party Republicans don’t mind suicidal legislative politics because their own seats are safe. On the other hand, they don’t want to wake up in January 2015 as part of the House minority."
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