The Spectacle Blog

Does Boehner Get It?

By on 1.9.06 | 3:05PM

Flipping through his campaign booklet, "A Majority That Matters," I have my doubts. He tosses about keywords such as trust and vision. He has a road map for compiling a vision.

More substantially, he correctly diagnoses the power of the budgetary process as part of the Abramoff problem. His solution is vague and not compelling:

We need to get our arms around the power that our budget represents. We need to distinguish, for example, between legitimate earmarks with a clear local need and those for which the merits are less well demonstrated.

Congressman, I'll help you get your arms around it: It's too much. The government's too big. Any significant reform of the House, the Republican Party, or the "process" must involve a firm commitment to smaller government.

So I searched the document for the word "spending." The results were not encouraging. It's mentioned seven times:

-Once in reviewing highlights of 10 years of a Republican House: "We've brought overdue accountability to the spending of federal taxpayer money."

-As one of his major goals for 2006: "Pass a Budget conference report that holds the line on spending by early April at the latest." Stirring stuff, huh?

-And the other five references come in this section chock full of somewhat technical appropriations language:

Taking Control of the Budget.

The single most direct challenge I think we all face is the budget. Whether you’re a budget hawk or a tax-cutter, you know that federal spending is on a path that directly imperils the future of our children and our nation. But we’ve learned all too well that both the current process and the Washington culture are stacked against fiscal discipline.

Here’s what I’d propose:

Fix the Congressional Budget Act. Essentially, we’re the victim of a process set up by Democrats in 1974 – who were so committed to increasing federal spending that they tried to impeach the sitting President for not spending enough. The CBA locks in annual increases so that even a slight reduction in the rate of a program’s growth is labeled a cut, even if the program is reformed to provide greater benefits for less money. The tax policy scoring process dramatically underestimates the real revenue generated by growth-building tax policies. And year-in and year-out, their numbers are consistently wrong, almost always underestimating the importance to the federal budget of a strong and growing economy.

We need to fix the CBA and the scoring models so that they respect growth and they don’t affirmatively discourage fiscal responsibility which is politically viable. Several of our colleagues have explored the idea at length and I think it’s important we give their ideas urgency and action.

Prioritize Budgetary Discipline. We simply have to make spending discipline as specific and vital a part of our individual and committee responsibilities as any other part of our agenda. Just as we seek individual ways to cut taxes, we need to look for, identify, and move on ways to spend less money while still respecting the vital commitments from the federal government that many Americans rely on. If you have an idea for cutting spending, I’ll want to hear about it, and I’ll make sure it gets heard and, if it’s viable, acted on.

Prioritizing earmarks? Fixing the CBA? That's the solution to runaway federal spending? Hardly. I could be wrong here. I could be misreading this. But the lack of resolve in Boehner's master plan promises more of the same ol' Republican House if he's elected majority leader.

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