Soon-to-be former Speaker of the House John Boehner is warning about “false prophets” in the Republican Party which are promising things they can’t deliver. He made his ominous claim to CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday.
“And so, we’ve got groups here in town, members of the House and Senate here in town, who whipped people into a frenzy believing they can accomplish things that they know — they know — are never going to happen.”
Boehner also discussed his “accomplishments” over the last four years including the Ryan-Murray Budget of 2013 (or sequestration, Boehner wasn’t that clear), the “doc fix” bill, and the extension of most of the Bush tax cuts. Whether any of these were actually good for the American people is questionable. The Bush tax cut extension didn’t cut spending at all and just delayed sequestration. The Ryan-Murray budget raised airline fees (aka taxes) and got rid of some of the sequestration cuts, under the promise they’d go back in place in 2022 and 2023 (not that another Congress couldn’t delay those again). The “doc fix” bill was criticized by FreedomWorks as adding $14B to the deficit over ten years. I’m not sure this is really an accomplishment, but Boehner has a message to those (like me) who don’t think it is.
“All done over the last four and a half years with a Democrat president and all voted against by my most conservative members because it wasn’t good enough. Really? You know this is the part that I really don’t understand…Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority you got to do whatever you wanted to do. They wanted this long, slow press. So change comes slowly, and obviously too slowly for some.”
Boehner’s right about change coming slowly, but for the wrong reasons. If you look at how D.C. works (or doesn’t work) it seems like politicians end up being corrupted by the idea of power and the temptation of using it for their own benefit. Peter Schweizer wrote in his 2011 book Throw Them All Out how Congress members appeared to play the stock market a bit when it comes to pending legislation. Here’s what Newsweek wrote on the book, including hits on John Kerry and, shock of all shock, Boehner.
The Kerrys’ capital gains on the transactions were at least $500,000, and as high as $2 million (such information is necessarily imprecise, as the disclosure rules allow members to report their gains in wide ranges). It was instructive to Schweizer that Kerry didn’t try to shape legislation to benefit his portfolio; the apparent key to success was the shaping of trades that anticipated the effect of government policy…
Indeed, Schweizer reports that, during the debate over Obama’s health-care reform package, John Boehner, then the House minority leader, was investing “tens of thousands of dollars” in health-insurance-company stocks, which made sizable gains when the proposed public option in the reform deal was killed. (“There are laws and there are rules of the House, and they should be followed,” a Boehner spokesperson tells Newsweek. “The speaker does not make those trades himself. He has a financial adviser in Ohio.”)
This is what happens when politicians end up in Washington for too long. They get corrupted by the system and probably decide to just “go along to get along” when it comes to staying in power and, for lack of a better term, profiting from it. There’s a reason why almost all of the longest serving tenures in the House and Senate start in the 1900’s. Those in power decide to stay in D.C. instead of going home. Essentially, they become “the elites,” instead of those who serve out of the goodness of their own hearts. The 17th Amendment takes most of the blame for this because it allows direct election of Senators, instead of allowing the state legislatures to pick them. What’s amusing is William Jennings Bryan pushed for direct election as a way for the people to keep politicians more accountable, yet it’s obvious there’s no real accountability. Allowing direct election of Senators essentially establishes a cabal where Senators become pals with House members, thus allowing collusion which “benefits” someone other than the constituents they’re supposed to represent.
It’s here where Boehner fails to realize why the so-called “false prophets” are actually the ones who are probably more true than he realizes. It shows how foolish Congress is to keep going from “cliff to cliff” and “deadline to deadline” instead of bothering to actually budget out things. Boehner’s “false prophets” are actually the ones pushing for real reform, real change, and real spending cuts instead of just making deals from time to time to keep the government running. This is why the Tea Pary was so important in 2010 and why it should stay important when it comes to cutting spending, reducing the size of government, and getting it out of my life and yours. Hopefully the “false prophets” are the ones who actually win this fight, instead of the current “elites.” But they’ve got to be careful not to become those they seek to destroy.