A Further Perspective

Cool Hand John

That's Speaker John to you, bub.

By 4.11.11

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House Speaker John Boehner has succeeded in making the largest cut to the bloated federal budget in American history. In this he surpasses even the great Ronald Reagan, who still deserves all honor and praise for defeating the Evil Empire and ushering in tax reform and economic dynamism in political economy. The Speaker has initiated what one can only hope is a rescue mission of equivalent importance to the future of the Republic.

Speaker Boehner has managed to mix the best of an insider's understanding of the ways of Washington with the idealism of his younger or newer caucus members who are the engine of this drive for fiscal reform. The Speaker is the steady hand on the tiller, the unflappable negotiator, and the captain of his party. He maintains a cool head and hand while displaying a deep emotional empathy with this moment in his life, career, and role at this juncture in history.

Boehner has managed to cut $38 billion from current budget levels -- roughly $78.5 below President Obama's initial funding request for 2011. This is a stunning accomplishment when one reflects on the trajectory of incontinent spending, debt, and, most recently, taxes that the Bush and Obama administrations have visited on the American taxpayer and, even more irresponsibly, on future generations of young families and workers.

Social conservatives will appreciate his dogged efforts to defund the nation's largest abortion abattoir and his successful cutting off of similar funding for the District of Columbia. He also restored the voucher program for school children in the federal city that President Obama and the previous Democratic Congress had sacrificed on the altar of the teachers' unions.

The second oldest of 12 children, the son of a saloon keeper from Cincinnati, Jesuit-educated and a small businessman, Speaker Boehner is a classic Midwesterner in style, temperament and instinct. Again, in this way he is similar to Reagan, a native of Illinois. Unlike many of those carping at his fiscal conservatism, he mopped floors and helped out at the family tavern to get through school.

Yet, there still be dragons out there. Awaiting the Speaker's attention is the debate on raising the debt ceiling and, even more portentous, the consequential battle over GOP Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's 2012 budget, the polar opposite of what the President has proposed.

On this latter matter, Boehner deserves special credit for not crowding, inhibiting, or otherwise holding back Chairman Ryan in pushing his major budget, tax, and entitlement reforms which would make Republicans of another era skittish. By delegating this titanic effort to one of the GOP's brightest lights, and supporting him to the maximum extent possible, Boehner is preparing the ground for the most significant public policy debate since World War II.

These are difficult, seemingly intractable issues on the horizon. But given the performance of John Boehner since becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives, it is hard to imagine a better, more seasoned, prudent and perspicacious man or woman leading the party of reform and renewal. He has demonstrated these traits since the beginning of his tenure.

With the rise of the Tea Party and John Boehner, the Republicans are beneficiaries of a rare convergence of idealistic energy and mature experience and deft political craftsmanship.

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About the Author

G. Tracy Mehan III served at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the administrations of both Presidents Bush. He is a consultant in Arlington, Virginia, and an adjunct professor at George Mason University School of Law.