On Speaker Boehner and "manning up"

Whenever a new Republican idea is rolled out you can be sure that somebody will be along presently on some cable news show or another to label it a stunt. This has become so predictable that it’s probably embedded in whatever machine they use to set up the teleprompters at most of the television news outlets, but the quotes generally come from Democrats. We saw a twist on this effect, however, after Speaker of the House John Boehner recently published an editorial on why he plans to sue the President. Rather than coming from the hallowed halls of MSNBC’s evening lineup, the “stunt” description came from Red State and the virtual pen of none other than Erick Erickson.

John Boehner and the House Republicans may lack the testicular fortitude to fight President Obama, but I would kindly ask that he save the taxpayers further money on a political stunt

Boehner and the House Republicans want to sue the President of the United States. Instead, they should man up.

227 years ago, when the founders of the nation set about drafting the constitution, they gave the House of Representatives the exclusive power to initiate revenue bills and impeach the Executive. That the House would sue the President over his use of executive power is an indication that its leadership no more values their own powers under constitution than the President they sue…

John Boehner having to run home and cry to mama, i.e. let the courts act as the parent in the squabble, is chiefly a failure of House Republicans to use their “most complete and effectual weapon” against the Senate and President.

The reference to the most complete and effectual weapon above comes from Federalist 58, which Erickson quotes in his column, and refers to the influential power of the purse which congress wields. Of course, Erikson’s introductory paragraph refers to, the power to initiate revenue bills and impeach the Executive, but the rest of the piece speaks chiefly to the ability to control funding and the raising of revenue, so that seems to be the focus here.

I agree that the House hasn’t leveraged that power to much effect in some of the more controversial actions Barack Obama has pushed for. One of these which Erick highlights is the blank check for raising the debt ceiling and the abandonment of both Ted Cruz and Mike Lee in the face of the government shutdown. But while these are important issues, it doesn’t sound like these are the complaints which John Boehner is highlighting in the potential lawsuit. While the actual specifics of the pending lawsuit are not yet known, reading the Speaker’s editorial linked above would suggest that he’s talking about executive actions and selective enforcement – or lack thereof – of laws rather than the final resolution of budget battles which did pass in Congress for better or worse.

But too often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold — at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him.

There is much to complain about when it comes to the way that the President has used the bully pulpit in budget negotiations, but let’s face it… it’s an effective tool which presidents of each party regularly employ. The real question which Boehner seems to be raising revolves around the constant re-writing of laws, specifically ObamaCare, and the wielding of Eric Holder as an ad hoc legislative hammer to determine which properly passed laws will or will not be enforced. And that may, indeed, be worth “running home and crying to the courts” for a closer look. When Erickson says that the House GOP should “man up” to fight the President, in the case of executive overreach, this may be the best – if not only – tool in the bag.