With the biggest Republican population in Congress since the 1940s, you’d think they’d be all about the chance to finally draw clear distinctions between themselves and Democrats, to sell themselves to the American people for the ability to actually accomplish something if a Republican can get elected president in 2016. Instead, we’ve been hearing how eager Republican leaders are to compromise with Democrats.
Take education, which I follow more closely than I do any other topic. The first thing out of the new, Republican-led Senate HELP Committee is a plan to redo the largest federal education law, No Child Left Behind. HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander wants it to be “bipartisan.” That’s the word he keeps using over and over. “If we want it to be a law, it takes a presidential signature, and that president today is President Obama,” he said.
Let’s just be plain: Any education bill President Obama will sign is going to be a bad bill. Essentially everything the president has done, with or without Congress, has been an utter disaster, from extra-legal preschool expansion to pushing Common Core onto everyone before a draft was even available to unilaterally rewriting No Child Left Behind. Given that Obama has complete control over NCLB through his illegal waivers process, which even the most Republican of states have gladly accepted, it’s unlikely he will be willing to sign much of anything unless he’s a big winner in the process.
Americans Don’t Want Congress As Usual
It’s the same with other policy areas. A recent missive, resoundingly titled “The Citizens’ Mandate from the November 2014 Elections,” recounts the centrist drift Republicans are taking before their new congressional control has even begun (disclosure: I’ve signed it). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared no more attempts to repeal ObamaCare, although Americans of all political stripes are only growing in their disgust for the thing as its provisions lock in. As the Mandate document complains, the post-election Congress decided to undercut the new majority’s ability to control Obama’s Wild West executive agencies by passing the Cromnibus, which funded ObamaCare and many of the executive overreaches Republicans keep telling people they’re against. Leave it to Republicans to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
The fear is that Republicans will squander two years they could have used to great effect for 2016. The fight over John Boehner’s speakership and his ensuing retaliation against those who dared express opposition to his use of it enhances such worries, given that he’s been giving away the farm for the past two years. I’ll just use him as an example of what Americans didn’t vote Republicans into office for, since he talks a conservative game but doesn’t follow with conservative plays.
For example, it’s really weird to see some young Boehner staff member criticizing Obama’s “free” college proposal with this line (plus Taylor Swift GIF):
Boehner even reiterated from his Speaker of the House Twitter account:
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) January 16, 2015
But so far Boehner hasn’t cared much about America’s “blank checkbook” when in the middle of dealing with Obama directly. Such as when he kept leading votes to expand America’s debt limit a) at all and b) with no substantive cuts in return. Or the recent “cromnibus” temporary federal budget authorization he inexplicably pushed while Democrats still held the Senate. Betsy McCaughey at the American Spectator described it this way: “Letting spendaholic Democrats who have in effect been fired by voters make budget decisions through next September is like letting your ex-spouse keep using your checkbook.” Boehner doesn’t believe President Obama should get to fill the taxpayers’ checkbook—he believes he should get to fill the taxpayers’ checkbook with earmarks for Republican campaign donors.
It’s also uncanny to see gems like this one:
— Speaker John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) January 17, 2015
So does that mean Boehner supports deleting the U.S. Departments of, say, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development? Or what, exactly, does “restore constitutional government” mean? Given his voting record, it’s fair to guess that’s merely a slogan to make voters think the Republican Speaker of the House is not really part of “the Republican establishment.”
Complaining about President Obama’s immigration dictatorship, Boehner said some words from the House floor he should repeat to himself a few times. He even accompanied the speech with another smirk-inducing illustration:
Prefacing this quote on the House floor, he said, “By their votes last November, the people made clear they want more accountability from this president.” Indeed, we do. Who will provide it? Raising debt limits, piles of government handouts, and socializing the country only halfway does not hold Obama or Democrats accountable; it only accomplishes their agenda slightly more slowly. Neither will acquiescence protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.