Speaker Boehner and the Frustrated Conservatives

Reactions to John Boehner’s re-election as Speaker have included scant attention to its implications for representative democracy.

As Lincoln noted, “unanimity is impossible; … so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism … is all that is left.” Yet Boehner’s continued Speakership demonstrates that there is now no way for a majority of voters to obtain representatives who will represent them; and no way to compel a purportedly representative government to comply with their clear wishes on matters they consider most crucial.

Angelo Codevilla's contention has been confirmed again. America is now lorded over by an oligarchic Ruling Class. Republicans are indistinguishable from Democrats. For voting majorities, who resoundingly rejected Obama Care in 2010 and all Obama policies in 2014, there is currently no place to go.

Due largely to Boehner, firmly and clearly stated campaign promises on the most important issues have been repeatedly and defiantly broken.

Not All Roll Call Votes Are Created Equal

Less than one month after he rammed through the infamous Cromnibus bill and two days after being re-elected, Boehner held a press conference that merits a prominent place in the museum of memorable denials, such as Nixon’s “I am not a crook” and Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” The Speaker effectively declared: “I am not a spineless establishment squish.”  

Objecting to opposition from the right, he laid claim to “the eighth most conservative voting record [,]” illustrating how unreliable roll call votes are in assessing a legislator’s performance.

· First, a favorite device for legislators to deceive voters is reliance on lack of public awareness of the importance of procedural votes, critical in determining actual policy but often not included by those who classify voting records as “liberal” or “conservative.” For example, the House has a Rules Committee that considers resolutions determining if, when and how controversial bills are considered. But the full House must approve a rule before a bill can be debated and voted on. Lying legislators often vote liberal on rules and conservative on bills. As will be explained, two blatant examples occurred when Boehner saved Obama Care and largely nullified the 2014 election.

· Second, raw numbers mask the vastly differing importance of issues and how strongly voters care about them. When polled, voters often express opinions, without much thought, on issues they care little about if they care at all.  But other voters feel so strongly about the same issues that they will not only express opinions but cast votes based solely on them. A prime example of votes determined by one issue is ObamaCare. Countless polls have documented its unpopularity. Few would deny its transcendent importance or that the 2010 and 2014 Republican successes were based largely on promises to get rid of it. 2014 also included promises to block unconstitutional Obama amnesty for illegal aliens. More than any other member of Congress, Boehner has been responsible for breaking these promises.

2,813 recorded House votes occurred during the first four full years of Boehner’s reign (here, here, here, here). A handful, perhaps four, mattered more than all the others: the Rule that saved Obama Care, the Rule that enabled the Cromnibus 2014 election nullification, and the two votes that made Boehner Speaker.

Speaker-election votes matter more than most because the Speaker wields power over all other votes. Boehner has thwarted solemn promises that resulted in majorities that made him Speaker by blocking all serious efforts to halt Obama’s unconstitutional abuses of power, effectively approving and enabling these abuses. The American people now suffer a bizarre combination of rule over the House with an iron fist in order to kowtow to an iron-fisted president on the most critical issues.  

The Rules Ruse: How Obama Care Became Obama-Boehner Care

It is now five years since Obama Care became law. Fewer than eight months after enactment, due largely to that law, the voters expressed their opposition by giving Republicans control of the House, resulting in Boehner becoming Speaker. Yet three months after the 2010 election and still less than a year had elapsed, he immediately used his new power to squelch promises to undo Obama Care, thereby taking co-ownership of that law for most of the period it has been on the books and responsibility for all the hardships and shocks it has caused and will cause to millions of Americans. Biased media will never use the truly descriptive term: Obama-Boehner Care. This policy, as well as Obama-imposed/Boehner-approved unconstitutional amnesty for law-breaking by millions of aliens, must be seen as two of the most critical oligarchical ruling class betrayals of the early 21st century.

Boehner’s autocratic complicity in these unpopular policies renders irrelevant any overall roll call voting record he may cite to fool voters. Is it surprising that substantial majorities of the voters who produced a Republican Congress did not want Boehner retained as Speaker? The latest poll came after one of the most important votes of Boehner’s cowardly House suzerainty, in which he begged President Obama to round up Democratic votes for Cromnibus in defiance of opposed Republican voters. As described by Rep. Jim Bridenstine, this lameduck

$1.1 trillion spending bill … funded the government for 10 months and blocked our newest elected Republicans from advancing conservative policy and delivering on campaign promises.  [Boehner] gave away the best tool available to rein in our liberal activist President: the power of the purse[,] Congress' Constitutional strength.… Boehner went too far when he teamed with Obama to advance this legislation.  He relinquished the power of the purse…. 

It is critical to emphasize the immensity of this renounced power. The U.S. Constitution clearly states: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.” This is a grant of absolute power, not just to Congress but to each of its houses. Although two thirds of each house of Congress can override a presidential veto, if a simple majority one house resolutely refuses to appropriate money, there is nothing that the president or the other house can do about it. Period!

Significantly, Boehner’s lameduck Cromnibus surrender required two recorded votes, illustrating the trap of relying on roll calls to assess legislative performance. Much was made of Boehner’s begging Obama to corral Democrat support because 67 Republicans voted against passage. Many of them were actually praised by gullible conservatives. However, prior to voting on the bill, there had to be a vote on the Rule allowing it to be even considered. Not one Democrat voted for that Rule and only 16 Republicans voted against it. If one more Republican had voted “No” on the Rule, the bill would never have been voted on, let alone passed. Thus, 51 Republicans had it both ways. They voted for the Rule allowing consideration and then against final passage. Doubtless, roll call voting analyses will list them as voting conservative when, in reality, they helped Boehner stab conservatives in the back.

Trey Gowdy, inexplicably touted for Speaker by such conservatives as Sean Hannity, was among the both-ways Republicans and supported Boehner’s re-election. Rep. Bridenstine was, regrettably, among Cromnibus’ both-ways Republicans. Despite its central role in determining the content of legislation, his “Communications Director” downplayed the significance of the Rules vote, which made the difference between relinquishing the power of the purse and blocking that surrender. In sum, Bridenstine voted to approve voting on what he then voted against and professed to be his reason to vote against Boehner. Like John Kerry, Bridenstine was for Cromnibus before he was against it. That does not mean his powerful quoted statement was wrong. What was wrong was his vote enabling a vote on Cromnibus in the first place.

Cromnibus is thus one classic illustration of the Rules Ruse. Another little noticed yet major use of Rules to deceive conservatives occurred February 15, 2011. The Rules Committee held a painful-to-watch hearing that prevented a House vote on Rep. Steve King’s amendment to defund Obama-Boehner Care. When professed Obama-Boehner Care opponent and actual Obama ally Rep. Foxx, revealing or feigning ignorance of basic high school civics, triumphantly asked (1:38) King what the Senate would do to his amendment, he patiently explained: “there is not a dime that can be spent by the federal government unless the House concurs” (2:01).

Compare King to would-be president Jeb Bush, a stronger advocate of pre-emptive surrender than Foxx:

I'd just add a little dose of reality. If you control one-half of one-third of leverage in Washington, D.C., your ability to influence things are [sic] also relative to the fact that you have one-half of one-third of the government ... politically it’s quite dicey for the Republican Party.

Note the fear of “dicey” reality “for the Republican Party.” RINO reality is fear and appeasement.

Condescending lectures pretending to be “realistic” fail to note the critical distinction between enacting and blocking legislation. The Constitution was designed to impede the former and facilitate the latter. Blocking funds for Obama-Boehner Care does not require enacting anything. It simply requires refusal of 50.1% of “one half of one third of the federal government” to use its absolute power to refuse to appropriate money by law. RINOs live in fear (when not bullying professed conservatives who live in even greater fear). It tellingly illustrates this fear that the likes of Jeb Bush quake at hallucinations that the president or the senate could reject what a majority of voting representatives have not approved.

Disingenuous Rationalizations

Especially for House members, who have two-year terms, it is not enough to fool voters with false promises. The next step is to fool them about why -- and even whether -- promises were broken. Here are a few of the disingenuous explanations given by professed non-RINOs for voting to retain the worst RINO of them all.

·  Displaying abysmal ignorance, Mia Love initially claimed, but later retracted, that a vote for a Republican other than Boehner would make Nancy Pelosi Speaker.

·  Rep. Mulvaney’s statement had so many lies that an outraged Mark Levin easily smashed it to smithereens. Especially noteworthy is that, in implying that he had been fooled into voting against Boehner in 2013, this liar accused his colleagues of being liars. In 2013, he abstained.

·  Many representatives claimed to be bound by November’s House Republican Conference vote for Boehner, and that there had not been a long campaign for an alternative. In fact, the conference was well before Boehner’s unanticipated deceitful and high-handed mid-December antics that so outraged conservatives weeks before the Speaker election. These antics included amnesty trickery and begging Obama for help in recruiting Democrat Cromnibus final passage votes.

·  The claim that there was no viable alternative is belied by the fact that Boehner’s opponents only sought to block a majority, so that there would be a second vote. If it became clear that Boehner could not get a majority, Republicans would then have had another conference to select an alternative (True conservatives would take offense at the idea that Louie Gohmert was unacceptable).

Make no mistake about it. A major priority of the Republican majorities in the 114th Congress will be to con voters into believing that broken promises were kept or that failure to keep them was not their fault.

Lester Jackson, Ph.D., a former college Political Science teacher, views mainstream media suppression of the truth as essential to harmful judicial activism. His recent articles are collected here and here. ljackson95@gmail.com