Monday, September 28, 2015

Retiring Speaker of the House can do the country some good

Judging from the number of stories about John Boehner's resignation from congress you might think that every journalist went to some school for pundits. (Disclosure: I did not.)

Here is an interesting take (from Brian Beutler at the New Republic) on what Boehner might do in the way of making his successor's life easier. Snippets follow.

For all his flaws, House Speaker John Boehner, who announced on Friday that he will resign from Congress at the end of October, was badly served by a lot of people.

Boehner’s decision is due not to any ostensible scandal or illness but to cruel political mathematics: His conference has become so dysfunctional that when a Republican speaker resigns, the House becomes less, not more, chaotic and reckless. The circumstances that prefigured his resignation are thus a fitting metaphor for his entire speakership and for the state of the Republican Party as a whole. It would be to Boehner’s credit to do everything in his power in the next month to protect his successor from the same fate.

So what is "everything in his power"?

Boehner probably can’t end the vicious cycle that hobbled his speakership. But he could plausibly clear the deck for his successor for long enough that the big issues Republicans want to fight over can play out in the election, rather than in the throes of governance. He could place legislation on the floor that funds the government for a year, extends the debt limit through 2016, and replenishes the highway trust fund, and allow Democrats to supply most of the votes required to restore calm. If Boehner were determined to make the next speakership less volatile than his own, and to end his own speakership on a note of responsible stewardship, he almost certainly could. What remains to be seen is whether he has one last fight left in him.

Now those would be great acts of statesmanship. Practically, he could not be in any more trouble with the GOPlins in the House, so what has he to lose?

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