Saturday, September 26, 2015

Boehner has leverage, if he wants it

John Boehner's resignation from Congress, and surrender of the Speaker's gavel, has prompted furious speculation about who will take his place, and what turmoil will unfold during the remainder of Barack Obama's presidency. But Boehner's resignation won't take effect until 30 October. What will he do until then?

I'm sure House rules will prevent Boehner from singlehandedly deciding the agenda, but like most Congressional veterans he probably has procedural tricks up his sleeve that he'll start pulling out in favor of his priorities.

Some starry-eyed optimists have suggested that now would be a good time to act on the immigration bill that died in the House last year. Others point to the sorry state of the highway trust fund. Personally, I wonder if he'll choose what to do, and not to do, based on the anarchic far-right bloc's own priorities — to frustrate them as much as he can. They put the squeeze on him, after all: it would only be human to get payback while he can.

However, I could be wrong.

Chris Krueger of the investment firm Guggenheim Partners told clients on Friday that he was raising the prospects of a damaging showdown on the debt ceiling. He dismissed hopes that Mr. Boehner was about to play a bipartisan Mr. Fix-It on his way out the door.

“Essentially, Boehner is the kindergarten teacher who is leaving his flock unsupervised and wants to get all the sharp objects out of the room before he goes off into the sunset,” Mr. Krueger wrote.

A great analogy, except I don't know where Krueger gets the idea Boehner's trying to remove any sharp objects. Boehner will merely try to keep his charges from burning the place down while he's in it.

At some point I'm afraid it's going to be necessary for truly patriotic Americans to fix Congress the only way we can, by moving to the thoroughly irresponsible districts that keep electing far-right bozos and voting in such numbers that we can swamp the idiots and elect people who actually have an interest in governing. This business of governing by temper tantrum and political arson is unsustainable.

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