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Jerry Shenk


Congressional Republicans Timid, Not Principled

by Jerry Shenk
 

Republican House Speaker John Boehner is leaving Congress. He won't be missed.

In January, 2015, after the GOP took the Senate majority, new Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker Boehner promised to make Democrats go on record as voting against and/or filibustering a stream of popular bills — and to force presidential vetoes.

Their word was worthless. GOP leadership haven't delivered on a single promise. Not one. House conservatives have had enough, and Boehner is resigning from Congress.

Claiming strategic rather than policy differences, some congressional apologists say there are good reasons the Speaker failed to keep his word.

A September 20, 2015 Associated Press report contained a quote from a member of Boehner's inner circle: "'There are some in the House who are using serious governance issues to score cheap political points against the speaker,' said Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa. 'Shutting down the government is not in our political interest, it will undermine the Republican brand and…will hurt…the Republican nominee…in November.'"

In other words, avoiding shutdowns is a political calculation. Republicans "cannot" use the strategic leverage of shutdown to negotiate corrections to fiscal, policy or moral abuses.

Mr. Dent fails to grasp how many people, including many registered Republicans, don't care about the GOP's "brand" or about Republican jobs or careers. They only care about Washington's scarcest commodity: Honest, responsible, moral governance.

Leadership's promises of extended debates, votes (on bills and amendments), filibusters and vetoes were meant to create a public record -- a narrative of Democratic obstructionism -- and prepare the battleground for a 2016 Republican presidential victory. But, now, suddenly, doing what leadership promised "will undermine the Republican brand and…hurt…the Republican nominee…in November."

Who wins? Minority Democrats, of course. That alone is ample evidence of how out of touch Washington Republicans can be and how closely some align with the other party. The grotesque illogic employed to "explain" and excuse their duplicity is astonishing.

The GOP is still dominated by entrenched, antediluvian insiders willing to fight to the party's death to preserve their perks and power.

Apparently, institutional, career Republicans believe there's no issue -- not uncontrolled spending, massive debt or a nuclear Iran — over which a government shutdown is imaginable. Nothing.

In his September 18 radio address, the president said, "There's nothing principled about the idea of another government shutdown."

But then, ironically, the president said that he would choose to shut down government by vetoing any funding bill that eliminated federal funds for America' largest abortionist, Planned Parenthood, despite ten videos showing PP officials discussing harvesting body parts for sale and profit, including from live-born children.

Paradoxically, the president would abandon "principle" — shut government -- to preserve funding for an abortion mill that isn't even a government agency. That's a public debate Republicans should relish.

But, also absent principle, influential congressional Republicans won't engage for fear their "brand" will suffer. In effect, they've chosen "fear and timidity" as the Republican brand.

The president's cynicism and Republicans' cowardice are as sickening as the Planned Parenthood videos.


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