The Hostage-Takers and John Boehner
The minority of the majority of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives is holding John Boehner and the entire nation hostage to their ideology. Unwilling to pass a budget or raise the debt ceiling to pay the bills for money they have already spent, a government shutdown and a default on U.S. debt are on the line if this group is unwilling to compromise. And it certainly seems as if the word compromise is not in the Tea Party lexicon.
Interestingly, many Republicans in the House and the majority of Republican senators are opposed to shutting down the government or defaulting on the debt, realizing what its negative impact would be for the country. But the one person who counts in the House on these issues, Speaker John Boehner, is unwilling to bring a clean continuing resolution (CR) on the budget to the floor, afraid that his Speakership could be challenged by another Republican member of Congress further to the right. If he did allow the CR to be voted on in the House, it would likely pass with a combination of Democratic and Republican votes, the latter being Republicans who care about the economy and are realistic about the political situation. But the “hostage takers” of course do not care. Their ideology and hatred of Obama and the Democratic leadership has blinded them to the need to keep the government working and pay the nation’s debts.
Boehner knows that allowing a vote on a clean CR is the proper move to make and realizes that a government shutdown or default would be bad for the country and our recovering economy. Many political analysts also believe that it would be bad for the GOP who would likely shoulder the blame for the chaos that would result. But Boehner is not a politician who could be featured in Profiles in Courage for his willingness to stand up to the extreme conservatives in his party. Could he have developed the “Stockholm syndrome” and bonded with his hostage-takers?
Where this will all lead is anyone’s guess, but a shutdown, or a default by the U.S. looks increasingly possible. The sequester has already slowed growth in the American economy and has kept unemployment higher than it should be. Things can get a lot worse unless Speaker Boehner develops some backbone and stands up to the hostage-takers in the House.