Will the House Republican leadership ever learn? Probably not.
In a dizzying week of developments, House Speaker John Boehner again threatened to shut down the federal government by not agreeing to raise the debt ceiling (something that the great conservative god Ronald Reagan advocated and did himself several times), proposed three separate budgets for next year although none is required because of an earlier deal on spending caps (while lying through his teeth in claiming that one of the budgets was actually President Obama’s own proposal), and threatened to renege on the spending caps in proposing that the bloated Pentagon be given even more money and that cost-saving measures already in effect be postponed (with the predictable slash-and-burn cuts in social programs).
Those of us who do not share Boehner’s short memory recall what happened last year when he acquiesced to the House’s hair-on-fire Tea Party bloc: Bond rating agencies said that the U.S.’s reputation had been severely damaged and the government lost its AAA credit rating, something that the speaker, in another lie this week, blamed the president for. The stock market tanked, as it did last year, and Congress’s approval rating ticked down ever closer to single digits.
For good measure, Boehner also said that the House would vote before the November election to continue all the Bush tax cuts, which it cannot prevent from expiring on January 1. This would deprive the Treasury of more than $3.5 trillion in the coming decade that could be used for deficit reduction.
It is tempting to forgive Boehner’s ways by saying that his governing philosophy differs from those of the president and most Democrats, but extortion is not a governing philosophy.