Friday, October 4, 2013

Games but not so much fun with Speaker Boehner

Referring to the government shutdown that he caused, House Speaker John Boehner petulantly cried, "This isn't some damn game"--an odd statment given all of the games that Speaker Boehner has played leading up to and during the shutdown.

Here are just a few of the games.

Games with the shutdown. The first and biggest game was loading a temporary, short-term continuing resolution for spending with a poison-pill amendment to defund the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This only 11 months after promising that he would stop with these games.
Asked whether he will make another attempt to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, Boehner said "the election changes that" and "Obamacare is the law of the land."

Games with lawmaker subsidies. After the Senate approved the continuing resolution but rejected the defunding amendment (and another delaying the ACA), Speaker Boehner insisted on including an amendment that removed an "exemption" that would have provided subsidies to Senators, Representatives, and their staffs to help cover the costs of mandated health insurance.

However, as Politico reports, Speaker Boehner had earlier worked to provide the same subsidies.
Yet behind-the-scenes, Boehner and his aides worked for months with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and others, to save these very same, long-standing subsidies, according to documents and e-mails provided to POLITICO.
Games with the conference committee. When Speaker Boehner lost that game, he next moved a resolution with an amendment calling for a conference committee to "negotiate" the terms of the House's extortion.

However, over the previous seven months, Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected 18 requests for conference committees for the Senate-passed budget.

Games with piecemeal legislation. When that gambit also failed, Speaker Boehner moved on to a new game. Instead of his original ploy of passing a single continuing resolution that omitted funding for the ACA, he pushed for a series of piecemeal funding bills. Taken together, these bills would have accomplished exactly what his original legislation proposed--funded what the Tea Party liked but dropped the funding for the ACA and other things that it didn't.

Games with an up-or-down vote. And Speaker Boehner continues to block the House from voting up-or-down vote on any of the versions of the continuing resolution that the Senate has passed, saying "That's not going to happen." A so-called "clean" continuing resolution appears to enjoy the support of a majority of House members, not to mention a majority of Americans and plurality of Republicans.

Sadly, the Speaker's games have had real consequences for the 800,000 idled federal workers, for citizens who depend on or enjoy government services, and for the economy as a whole.

As my parents used to say, "it's all fun and games until someone gets hurt."

The country is hurting, Mr. Speaker, and it's long past time to end your games.

Update (10-4-13, 4:25 p.m.): More games: Roll Call retrieves a previous Republican plan from the memory hole.
Senior Republicans were for “clean” CRs before they were against them.
Conservative Republicans have been pushing “automatic” continuing resolutions going back at least to the 1995-96 government shutdown era. The idea was popular on the right because an automatic freeze of government spending would take a shutdown off the table, lessening the leverage appropriators had to increase spending or include extraneous items.