COLUMBUS, Ohio (CGE) – It’s said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. It appears Ohio Congressman John Boehner, the embattled Speaker of the U.S. House whose inability to muster enough votes in his own Majority Caucus over the course of two days this week to pass his own bill has caused him great embarrassment, has again fiddled with his bill to reduce government spending in order to coax tea party Members to join his cause to push Congress to raise the nation’s debt ceiling so outstanding bills can be paid on time.
Boehner to pass his bill
According to news reports Friday morning, some powerful forces that previously opposed Boehner’s bill have now dropped their opposition in order for the Speaker to avoid further embarrassment by mustering enough votes to pass his own bill in a chamber his party controls by a wide margin.
Boehner has been unable to convince enough of the tea party wing of his caucus to vote for his bill, which they say doesn’t include enough spending cuts, and is in many respects close to deals Boehner and his second lieutenant, Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor, first agreed to but then walked away from, when President Obama and Democratic leaders insisted that all the balancing not come on the backs of seniors and the middle class, while wealth individuals and corporations are not being asked to contribute anything in order to save the excellent credit rating the United States has enjoyed through out its 235-year history.
Earlier in the day, David Dreier, Chairman of the House Rules Committee, considered the new amendment by the Speaker to his own bill. In the last version, a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution – which needs a two-third approval vote by the Senate and House in order to be send it to the 50 states for approval by three-fourths of them  – was included. Boehner’s new amendment, designed to lure tea-party inspired Members to line up with him, will require the Senate and House to pass a balanced budget amendment and send it to the states for their approval before the debt ceiling can be raised again.
For some perspective on Boehner including an amendment to the Constitution, some experts on the subject say that over 10,000 constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress since 1789; and that during the last several decades, between 100 and 200 have been offered in a typical congressional year. Most of these ideas never leave Congressional committee, and far fewer get proposed by the Congress for ratification. So far, only 27 amendments have been adopted and of those, ten came via the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1792.
In the Rules Committee meeting, Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, told Dreier that no evidence exists to suggest that any lender has shied from lending the United States money, at still historic low interest rates. Slaughter said that was true just last month, even during the kerfuffle that’s now come to the brink of a default deadline.
Chairman Dreier said it’s necessary to send a “work product” from the house to the Senate. Unfortunately, Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, speaking on the Senate floor Friday morning, said the Boehner bill would be dead on arrival.
Stockholders lose hundreds of billions in stock market Friday
Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions from Dallas, said on the House floor that the credit card President Obama has used over the last two congresses needs to be taken away, based on the government spending that’s been put on it on his watch.
It was only a matter of time that the stock market would start to show stress signs from the back and forth bickering between warring factions of the parties themselves, and between party leaders and the White House. Paul Tonko, a New York Democrat, said American stock owners lost over $400 billion from the time Speaker Boehner stood down on trying to pass a bill yesterday to today. Tonko accused Republicans of running “further to the right” in order to make a bad bill even worse.
Obama asks for more pressure on Congress
President Obama, who said on Friday that the bill “does not solve the problem and will not become law,” made a short statement in the morning asking the parties to stop fighting and work in the interest of the country. “What’s clear now is that any solution to avoid default must be bipartisan. It must have the support of both parties that were sent here to represent the American people – not just one faction,” he said, adding that while there are “plenty of ways out of this mess…we are almost out of time.”
Bringing the consequences of default down to real people, President Obama said, “And make no mistake – for those who say they oppose tax increases on anyone, a lower credit rating would result potentially in a tax increase on everyone in the form of higher interest rates on their mortgages, their car loans, their credit cards. And that’s inexcusable.
Dems weigh in on consequences of default
In another demonstration of what default would mean to the nation, Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, warned that an increase of just three-quarters of a percent, which he said happen if default becomes a reality, would cost taxpayers $1 trillion dollars over ten years if the nation’s credit rating is downgraded from AAA to AA, as ratings agencies has suggested they’ll do if the debt ceiling is not raised enough to pay the nation’s outstanding bills by Tuesday, August 2nd.
Later on Friday, the White House distributed a graphic on the nation’s debt showing that $12.7 trillion was added to the nation’s debt over the last ten years. While Republicans can only see as far back as January of 2009 when Obama was sworn-in as President, the graphic, a column showing debt segments, showed that policies pushed and supported by Republicans, including Speaker Boehner and others now serving in Congress, totaled $7 trillion [between 2001-2008].
Reagan advisor offers harsh comments on tea party faction
Historian Bruce Bartlett, a former domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan, was a guest on MSNBC’s Hardball Show, hosted by Chris Matthews, Wednesday. Bartlett didn’t mince words in calling out Republicans and their tea-party wing for manufacturing the current drama and intrigue of the day. He said it’s a myth that tax cuts are the key to prosperity, adding that President Ronald Reagan, a secular saint to Republicans, raised the capital gains rate. According to one report, Bartlett was also skeptical that Congress would be able to solve the current budget crisis. “I think at this point, there’s nothing that can pass the House of Representatives,” he said, adding, “I think a good chunk of the Republican caucus is either stupid, crazy, ignorant or craven cowards, who are desperately afraid of the tea party people, and rightly so.”
Ohio currently has 18 Congressman, 13 of whom are Republicans, but none of them have joined the official tea party caucus of the House, although most of them closely adhere to the tea party agenda to repeal the nation’s new but still mostly in-operative health care reform system and to make Obama a one-term president.
It’s free! Click ‘Subscribe’ above to have the next CGE column delivered to you via email. Read more CGE stories on people, politics and government in Ohio here, or on Facebook or Twitter. Send news or tips to [email protected]
Great news! CGE articles are now included in the digital E-Clips compiled and distributed daily by the Ohio House of Representatives to its 99 Members, staff, governor’s office and others