The Importance of the Boehner Bill

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on July 30, 2011

The Boehner bill never had a chance of passing the Senate, and for that reason, many argue that it was a waste of time to even consider it. Funny; those same people don’t say the same thing about the Reid bill, and its chances in the House, despite the fact that Senate Democrats are holding up consideration of the Reid bill notwithstanding Republican offers to consider the bill on a more expedited schedule.

The Boehner bill was consequential because its passage shows that however difficult the fight, at the end of the day, Speaker Boehner was the master of his caucus. Its passage allows him to have a seat at the table when the final compromise legislation is crafted, and it gives him significant bargaining authority–authority that he would not have had if he failed to pass his bill, and if his caucus was divided. Because of its passage, the Speaker can now parley on equal terms with Harry Reid and the White House. Of course, the White House and Senate Democrats never wanted the Speaker to be in a strong position, which is part of the reason why they were working along with House Democrats to beat the Boehner bill.

What’s interesting is that the Tea Party caucus in the House was–by fighting against the Boehner bill–effectively helping weaken the Speaker in any future negotiations with Senate Democrats and the White House. Now, the Tea Party had a position to which it attached great philosophical import, and of course, ultimately, one must vote one’s conscience in Congress. But one can vote one’s conscience, and be pragmatic at the same time. If the Boehner bill had little chance of becoming law, the Tea Party bill had no chance whatsoever. So one wonders why the Tea Party caucus insisted on a position that not only wouldn’t become law, but would weaken the bargaining position of House Republicans when it came time for final negotiations to take place.

Again, it is worth noting Charles Krauthammer’s admonition that complete rollback of excessive government is simply not possible at this time, and won’t be until the Republican party takes control of the White House and the Senate, in addition to keeping control of the House. For this reason, the Tea Party should be content to pocket massive concessions from Democrats, and move on. They, and the Republican party as a whole will get another bite at the apple, and they will get that bite from a position of strength. But only if they are willing to at least be somewhat pragmatic.

The Boehner bill was a vehicle for prudence and pragmatism, while at the same time serving as a vehicle to reduce the size of government. Good thing it passed the House. Too bad so many Republicans tried their best to make it fail, though.

  • Bill Marcy

    Oh, Please.  Under Gingrich, the Republican party spent like drunken sailors, what makes you think when they get power again they will do anything differently?

    The Tea Party is right in requiring ideological purity, because once they start compromising their convictions, what is one more compromise.  Better to lose it all than win nothing.  At least you have tried. 

    Do you think RINO’s like McCain or McConnell would do anything but spend and spend and spend?  I don’t, turn them out and get people who will hold the line, and if need be fall on their sword four our country.

    • Demosthenes

      “Under Gingrich, the Republican party spent like drunken sailors, what
      makes you think when they get power again they will do anything

      Did Gingrich have to deal with a Tea Party?  Well, there you are then.

      I am not a Tea Partier myself, but I like them quite a lot.  I think they have shown a good track record when it comes to recruiting good candidates and supporting them.  Of course, there are the exceptions…Angle and O’Donnell come to mind…but weigh them against McDonnell, Christie, Rubio, Haley, West, Scott, Martinez, et al, and that’s quite a decent job.  I trust that the Tea Party will do its best to force the Republicans to hold the line on spending.  Which I’m all for, as long as they don’t irreparably damage the cause we’re all fighting for in the meantime.

      “Better to lose it all than win nothing.  At least you have tried.”

      You do realize that “it all” includes our country…right?  The country you claim you want people to fall on their swords for?  It is sometimes better to lose than to win, as the step back can later lead to two steps forward, but it is NEVER better to lose it all.

  • Johndoe

    Compromise and pragmatism first, principle second. Got it.

    • Demosthenes

      Johndoe:  Being a concern troll first, and misrepresenting arguments second, since [fill in the date].

    • Pejman Yousefzadeh

      If ever there were a misrepresentation of my opinion, this was it.

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