Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) helped lead the Republicans out of the minority back into a stunning majority rule. 2010 was the grand shellacking that rebuked President Obama's power grab. The President pushed Obamacare and Dodd-Frank, then he ignored the jobs and economic growth crises afflicting every taxpayer in this country. Boehner had a tough job ahead of him for the next two years. He had a decisive Tea Party caucus, plus a Democratic Senate to compromise with, yet for the past four years, the US Senate has done nothing but kill sensible legislation while refusing to cut spending and drastically reduce the scope of government in our lives.
The debt-ceiling debacle in 2011 helped Republicans and hurt President Obama, who has refused to lead, refused to compromise, refused every overture to get anything done in Washington. Republican Congressmen like Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina put military cuts on the table along with entitlement reform. Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma) voted to repeal Obamacare, along with David Matheson (D-Utah). Boehner was peeling away conservative Democrats, and he could have taken in more.
It's tough to be a House Speaker, especially when he represents a conference committed to limited government, yet there he stands at the helm and has to work with Democrats who want to expand government, no matter what the cost or the consequences. The speakership depends on leadership which can work behind the scenes as well as in front of the camera. Not just posturing, but purposeful positioning which brings both sides together while offering convincing reasons for doing so. The Tea Party caucus was willing to deal when necessary, but no one would have known, since the House Speaker rarely spent any time explain his views or his vision to the country.
The fiscal cliff dance has pushed Boehner into a near-impossible bind. The voters want to cut spending, the President wants to keep spending, and the Democratic majority in the Senate stays spending its days doing nothing. Boehner advanced a plan which would raise taxes on millionaires, the majority of whom support tax increases. Boehner demanded entitlement reform, too; the President refused to deal. Boehner should have called it quits with the President and dealt with Senate leadership or taken his frustrations to every talk show in the country.
Instead, the Speaker tried to pass "Plan B," which got an "incomplete," since he pulled the bill at the last minute. How could he not have known that more conservative GOP members would never deal on "Plan B"? Furthermore, his acquiescence to have a fiscal cliff in the first place was a bad move. Decisive responses needed to be in order from the beginning, but Boehner has been kicking the can down the road along with the rest of the Washington Establishment.
Boehner failed to meet with the diverse leadership in his conference or in the opposition. How many times could he have crossed over and worked with conservative Democrats to get a deal, one can only guess. If the Senate Majority leader Harry Reid refused to deal, then Boehner and the GOP needed to expose their recalcitrance to their districts and the national media. Following allegations of Boehner's "purge of conservatives" to his failure to meet and greet with conservative Democrats along with Tea Party Republicans, a caucus of Virginia Republicans are pressing their Congressman to vote out Boehner as House Speaker.
As the leader of the House of Representatives as well as the standard-bearer for the Republican Party in Congress, Boehner had a responsibility to strike every deal he could with his members, both Establishment and Tea Party types. He needed to bring his own members to the table to outline the proper strategy for the entire GOP caucus, minus the slim number of uncommitted marginal elements. He needed to reach out to the Dixiecrats in the South who would resist their own Democratic Party to respect the fiscal prudence of their constituents. He needed to influence the Presidential campaign more directly, as well, by pressing Romney to stick to one message without wavering to the left or the right after his first set of debates in 2011.
Because Boehner has settled for bickering with a President who refuses to deal, because he has been bent on getting by without getting ahead, because he has refused to bring in Democrats in the Senate as well as the House, the GOP conference in Washington has no choice but to bounce Boehner. Former GOP House Speaker Newt Gingrich reached out to the media and party elites outside of the Beltway. Boehner needed to do the same thing, yet he has not. Gingrich took responsibility for the GOP's poor showing in 1998 and resigned. Boehner must do the same.
Leadership depends on cautious conviction, followed by careful compromise. Boehner's convictions are caving in, and his compromise is craven. House Speaker Boehner, step down and let someone else take the lead in the House. Newt Gingrich knew when it was time for him to go. It's time for you to take the hint and butt out of House leadership.