John Boehner of Ohio is likely to be the next Speaker of the House in Congress. Politico has obtained Boehner’s official letter in which he plans to run things with a “much different kind of Congress–one that is humbler, more transparent, and respects the will and intelligence of the people.”
Boehner says Republicans will bring change to Washington. In the weekly radio address by the Republican Party before the election, Boehner said not once but twice “we need to change Congress itself.”
As President Obama and his 2008 campaign slogan found out, there are many pitfalls to changing an entire political machine. Here is an examination of just a few of the obstacles of Washington that John Boehner will be dealing with when he assumes his leadership role.
Tea Party Caucus
In July of 2010, more than a dozen congressional Republicans signed on to the Tea Party caucus created by Michele Bachmann in the House, according to the Wall Street Journal. This voting bloc in Congress will surely grow now with more Tea Party backers in Congress.
If the Tea Party agrees with Boehner regarding change in Washington, then he will have to deal with this minor rebellion in his own party. If he doesn’t, a fractured GOP may not get much work done itself if they anger too many constituents.
Rand Paul has vowed to take Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party caucus one step further. The Huffington Post reports Paul was quoted as saying he wants to bring a bicameral Tea Party caucus to Capitol Hill to further the goals of reduced government spending.
Boehner have to contend with the Tea Party not only in the House but also in the Senate. Plus, the Senate still is in control by the Democrats and Harry Reid.
Speaking of Democrats, Boehner will have to work with them too. In his own words, Boehner said he was willing to work with the President assuming he was met halfway.
If Obama does come across as being reasonable and willing to work with Boehner, then he will have to be careful about Republicans staying the party of “no.” Now that Boehner has said he will work with everyone, he can’t play the game like a spoiled child.
The key to working with Obama is the President’s veto power. There is no way a veto will ever be overridden in the next two years with a divided Congress.
If Obama doesn’t veto a lot of legislation, then it is true that he was willing to work with Congress to get things done. At that point, Boehner will either look like a hero for making the President more conservative or a fool for compromising on Republican values.
Boehner has been in Washington for 20 years. If his party truly wants change, then he will have a harder time bringing it to the people than he thinks. If Americans truly think John Boehner isn’t a part of the Washington system, we are sadly mistaken.
True change is hard. Can Boehner set aside his own personal gain to truly change the system in which Congress operates? Boehner may have an image problem of being a Washington insider and an instrument for change simultaneously.
I’m all for giving John Boehner a chance to lead, but I will be one who believes it when he sees it when you talk about change in Washington. Perhaps Obama can give Boehner a pep talk about the reality of change before he makes all these promises of changes in Washington politics.
Politico, “Boehner letter launches official speaker bid”, Politico.com.
Republican Party, “Weekly Radio Address”, GOPLeader.gov.
Davis, Susan, “The Inaugural Members of the Tea Party Caucus”, WSJ.com.
Siegel, Elyse, “Rand Paul Signals Intent To Bring Bicameral Tea Party Caucus To Capitol Hill”, HuffingtonPost.com.
John Boehner’s Congressional Page from the House of Representatives