Michael Barone: How Effective Was John Boehner As Speaker?Posted: September 29, 2015
Michael Barone writes: Sean Trende of RealClearPolitics provides more detail and argument in support of the proposition, advanced in my own initial reflections, that John Boehner was an effective speaker of the House — from a conservative point of view. First, Trende shows that federal spending has been held down more sharply during Boehner’s tenure as speaker than at just about any other time since World War II. That five-year tenure included five years of a Democratic president and four years of a Democratic-majority Senate.
Second, Trende shows that the October 2013 government shutdown, a model admired by many and perhaps all of Boehner’s critics, was electorally disastrous for Republicans.
I suspect many of Boehner’s critics are simply unfamiliar with these numbers, just like the great majority of citizens. The hold-down of federal spending was accomplished by the sequester procedure which has stayed in place now for four years. It’s not the optimal way to form a budget. But if your goal is holding down spending — and reducing spending from 25 percent of GDP to 20 percent — then the sequester has been very effective, and so has Boehner.
In listening to Boehner critics, I have the sense they do not understand or appreciate this at all. Similarly, on the shutdown I hear from them a bland assurance that Republicans won a House majority in November 2014, so the shutdown in October 2013 was not a political liability. Take a look at the chart Trende presents, and see if you don’t conclude, as I do, that that’s political wishful thinking.
Trende is skeptical that a Boehner successor can do better, on these issues or in satisfying Boehner’s critics. As I noted, the same Constitution that gives the House a certain primacy in taxing and spending also gives the president a veto on any bills it and the Senate passes. The best suggestion I have seen for better tactics comes from The Federalist’s Ben Domenech, and is directed not at Boehner but at Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader since…(read more)
Source: Washington Examiner