No Government Shutdown … I think!

September 25, 2015

John Boehner Will Resign from Congress is today’s big story. This is big news, of course, although it’s not surprising news, at least to me. The third paragraph in the New York Times story sums up Speaker Boehner’s legacy very well:

The Ohio representative struggled from almost the moment he took the speaker’s gavel in 2011 to manage the challenges of divided government and to hold together his fractious and increasingly conservative Republican members.

So here are my predictions:  (1) There will be no government shutdown; and (2) we may see progress before October 30 on a number of issues that matter.

There will be no government shutdown. I’m more comfortable with this prediction. Speaker Boehner has observed, mostly, the Hastert Rule. This rule holds that no bill comes before the House of Representatives unless a majority of Republicans support it. Many matters would readily pass the House of Representatives with a substantial number of votes from Democrats, along with a few Republican votes. Alas, those situations do not arise with the Hastert Rule.

Now, for five weeks, Speaker Boehner need not care about the Hastert Rule. If he puts forward bills which upset his right wing, what will they do? Fire him? I may be wrong about the Speaker, and I do not agree with his positions on any issues of substance, but I do think he’s a man who shows up to govern. And, with a shutdown looming next week, he can govern.

We may see progress before October 30 on a number of issues that matter. The second prediction—it comes second—is a bigger stretch. However, we have big issues in this country on which we are stymied. They include, for example, infrastructure repair and replacement. We could have been spending trillions of dollars, borrowed at almost 0%, to turn our nation into what it once was and, by the way, create jobs for millions. The bill has been DOA because of the Republican House of Representatives, despite the collapse of the I-75 bridge over the Ohio River, which has its northern terminus in Speaker Boehner’s district and its southern terminus in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s state.

So, with that nifty segue, what about the Senate? As it happens, in addition to knowing how to get rich as a public servant—the story is titled How did Mitch McConnell’s net worth soar?, it’s by Glenn Kessler for the Washington Post, and it doesn’t flatter Leader McConnell—Leader McConnell serves to govern and make deals. And he knows how to make a deal.

So, for whatever its worth, I think the Speaker’s departure will provide short-term benefits which may, in fact, improve out lot significantly. No shut down. Transportation. Maybe some tax reform. Who knows what else we may get. No election this fall, and five week can be along time, if people use it well. Comments welcomed.



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