While the media portrays the Boehner conflict as a division over strategy and a willingness to be “realistic,” it was really about an agenda.
Michael A. Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action for America, has written about the Boehner conflict for Politico. His piece is a needed corrective to the media’s false story. An excerpt:
The friction of the last several years has not been about differences in tactics. It has been about deep and irreconcilable disagreements over the goals the GOP should pursue. It has been a dispute over how much the center-right should try to disrupt the status quo. Armed with his 245-seat majority, Speaker John Boehner opted against pursuing any reform agenda. He ignored the hopes and dreams of those Republican voters who delivered the GOP control of the House in 2010 and the Senate in 2014 and instead pushed the agenda of Washington’s ruling class.
Needham points out that the “accomplishments” that Boehner’s advocates point to prove his case.
But take a look what the House has done this year and it’s not hard to understand conservatives’ frustrations with the Speaker’s leadership: a permanent “doc fix” that increases Medicare spending over the next two decades by $500 billion and took crucial leverage for Medicare reform off the table forever; a House-passed reauthorization of No Child Left Behind despite the objections of conservatives advocating reforms to eliminate Department of Education mandates. Not a single Republican ran on these priorities in 2014, yet aside from small-ball bills addressing business community concerns like authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, they’ve been the central pillars of the Republican agenda.
In other words, despite Republicans delivering a huge victory to Republicans, the Democrats somehow still seemed to control the Senate.
The main good news is that the Conservatives prevented Boehner from delivering a worse betrayal to the grass-roots by working out a “grand bargain” that massively increased spending.
Speaker Boehner’s decision to step down empowers rank-and-file lawmakers to embrace the conservative grassroots and increases the likelihood the party will actually fight for conservative policy priorities and our Constitution. But that will not happen through inertia. It will take the concerted effort of lawmakers, staffers and conservative constituents to ensure the meaning of the moment is not lost.
Let’s pray that happens. And let’s remember, if getting rid of Boehner was really likely to be such a disaster for the Republican Party, the media would be in favor of getting rid of him. The fact that they are treating Boehner as a rejected hero should give you a hint that he was playing for the wrong team.