Boehner: House is ‘broken’

House Minority Leader John Boehner: Yeah, but who broke it? (Reuters)

The top Republican in the House of Representatives proposed on Thursday that lawmakers be forced to cut federal spending to offset the cost of any new program.

Taking a swipe at fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, John Boehner said “this institution is broken” and earned its reputation for “fiscal recklessness.”

Boehner, in line to become House speaker if Republicans win control of the chamber in the November 2 election, said “congressional rules are rigged” to make it easy to increase spending and nearly impossible to cut spending.

“We should … consider developing a ‘cut-as-you-go rule,'” Boehner said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

“If it is your intention to create a new government program, you must also terminate or reduce spending on an existing government program of equal or greater size — in the very same bill,” Boehner said.

He also called for an end to bills being rammed through the House without opportunities for changes.

“More debate and more amendments will mean more intense scrutiny, and ultimately, better legislation,” Boehner said.

Democrats fired back by suggesting that Boehner was a hypocrite for preaching reform.

They complained that he opposed their reforms in recent years on matters from federal spending to campaign financing to tightening oversight of congressional ethics.

A press release by the office of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi carried the headline: “House Republican Leader Boehner to give speech on reform despite leading GOP effort against it.”

The release noted that during the 12 years that Republicans held Congress before Democrats won control in the 2006 elections, the U.S. debt nearly doubled and that the number of “pet projects” in federal spending bills quadrupled.

Public approval of Congress has been on the decline for years regardless which party was in the majority. With Democrats controlling the House and Senate the past four years, its approval rating now stands at about 20 percent.

This disdain for Congress, largely because of the weak U.S. economy, is a major reason why polls show Republicans may win the House and perhaps the Senate in November.

Boehner said he wants to hear what others have to say.

“I welcome ideas and helping hands from any lawmaker or citizen about how to make this institution function again,” he said.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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19 Responses to "Boehner: House is ‘broken’"

  1. Almandine  October 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

    New programs? For what?

    How about cutting spending without replacing it with “new” programs?

    Why can govt not shrink, instead of grow?

    Call, write, email, you name it. STOP SPENDING!

  2. Guardhouse Lawyer  October 1, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Here’s a simple solution:

    Institute a rule in the House and in the Senate that says that at any time a group of ten Congressmen or five Senators can object to the inclusion of an addon item to the main theme of an appropriation bill. For example, if there is a line item for a new courthouse in an education bill the courthouse line item is subject to this rule. Similarly, if there is a provision concerning education in the military spending bill that provision is likewise subject to the rule.

    After the filing of an objection, the House or Senate has five legislative days in which to provide by a 60 percent majority to retain the disputed item in the omnibus bill; otherwise the line item has to be broken out as a separate bill.

    Goodbye, pork.. Pure and simple. And you know as well as I do that you can always find ten recalcitrant Congressmen or five dissenting Senators to blow the whistle. In fact, call it the whistle-stop rule. Someone blows the whistle and the legislation stops in its tracks.

  3. logtroll  October 1, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    GLawyer,

    Do you always have to have a reasonable solution for everything?!

    What has Boner said about your idea? Bet he doesn’t like it…

    • Carl Nemo  October 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm

      Ha…! I’ve been waiting for an intellectual exchange between our premier contenders for the “CHB Contentiousness of the Year” award. : )

      Instantly, I too thought ‘boner’ (lower case in his case) wouldn’t like the idea. We’re dopes and they’ve roped us…no? All of ‘boner’s’ rhetoric is simply for media consumption…nothing more, nothing less. ‘boner’ is an evil, compromised, crimpol “dud”…! : |

      Carl Nemo **==

    • Guardhouse Lawyer  October 1, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      >Do you always have to have a reasonable solution for everything?!

      Yes.

      Now, if each and every voter asked the people running for their local house seat if they would support this measure. . .. And then voted accordingly.

      We might get somewhere.

  4. Almandine  October 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    Doesn’t do a thing to rein in spending…

    • Guardhouse Lawyer  October 2, 2010 at 2:45 am

      Huh? I may have missed something there…..

      • logtroll  October 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

        Yes, it’s perfectly obvious to anyone who is not an irresponsible liberal that the best way to fix a broken machine is to push it off a cliff. Tune-ups and repairs are for girls, real men use hammers for problem solving.

        (No disrespect for hammers intended, I love a hammer when used with skill for its intended purpose.)

      • Almandine  October 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

        Your remedy is for new spending only… doesn’t do a thing to roll back programs that need to be pared.

        • Guardhouse Lawyer  October 2, 2010 at 8:37 pm

          Then the beef is not with pork barrel projects? I coulda sworn everyone was upset about pork in the budget.

          OK. It’s your turn to come up with a workable idea. I know mine is, since just the adverse publicity about a particular piece of pork is enough to kill it generally,; also I know that things like “cut everything 25 percent across the board” are not only unworkable but dangerous to the well-being of the United States and her individual citizens.

          Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to propose for reduction or elimination individual programs or budget items. To be workable, though, you would have to explain why the particular program needs to be cut, along with weighing the pros and cons.

          My proposal didn’t have such stringent criteria because it was aimed at pork, which is politically vulnerable. To cut or eliminate existing programs is an entirely different thing though because, unlike limited duration pork projects, the programs subject to scrutiny will have several if not many supporters.

          An example of such a program might be Pell Grants. Many people believe that the approximately $10 billion in such grants every years is a waste of money. To justify a cut one would have to specify not only the amount cut but what the pros and cons are. Without justification, cuts are politically unlikely to happen. Of course, Pells are to some extent questionable because of the apparently fraudulent activities of many for-profit educational facilities, most egregiously the University of Phoenix conglomerate. It would be easy to suggest doing away with Pell Grants to students who want to attend such institutions, but to go farther becomes more problematical.

          But remember, it was you who said “roll back programs that need to be pared.” You would have to justify what “needs to be pared.” Go ahead — give it a shot.

  5. Almandine  October 2, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    This is the first mention of “pork”… an obvious obfuscation of your 5-man rule.

    How about eliminating the dept of education? Oh, I forgot – the NEA would be upset. Never mind.

  6. logtroll  October 2, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    Anybody know why basic and pragmatic calls to action are always pooh-poohed around the CHB pot-bellied stove?

    GHL proposed language a year ago for Congress to end the unreasonable corporate rights fantasy… CHB ranters response? Silence.

    Now GHL proposes a realistic avenue to controlling pork… CHB ranters response? Ridicule.

    “Impotent assholes” is a phrase that comes to mind.

    I, for one, will send the suggestion to my Congressionals.

    Thank you, GHL.

    • Almandine  October 3, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      It wasn’t pooh poohed… it just didn’t go far enough.

      Our primary debt just surpassed $7T… not to mention entitlements. The INTEREST on the primary debt in 2009 was $383B. Pork barrel spending in 2009 was $19.6B – a BIG DEAL, eh? Will eliminating pork pay down the debt that has us near (IN) bankruptcy? Hell, no.

      Impotent? It’s the Fed and those Congressionals you revere that are impotent, as well as incompetent. Many of us here on CHB have proposed economic fixes for years. And fixes that certainly would have gone much further to put our country back in the black than merely controlling the flow of targeted dollars back to the folks at home.

      Eliminating the dept of education would have saved $45B in 2009, and eliminating all federal spending on state-and local-level programs would save hundreds of billions more. Doing away with unfunded federal mandates that states and local govts have to pay for would free up additional money that could be used to manage their local programs.

      Have a look at our plight – including all the linked references therein – and maybe you’ll recalibrate a bit. We’re in deep shit Tonto…

      http://neithercorp.us/npress/

  7. Guardhouse Lawyer  October 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    “Eliminating the dept of education would have saved $45B in 2009, and eliminating all federal spending on state-and local-level programs would save hundreds of billions more.”

    Yes, you are absolutely correct. Cutting programs saves money. But to say that eliminating all such spending is good because of the savings is where you may not be right. Meat-axe surgeries usually end in hemorrhage and death of the patient. It is oh so easy to say eliminate all fed spending on state/local programs. But what in the HELL happens to the people who benefited from the programs at the state and local level? My challenge to you was to do the cost-benefit analyses to show what the real cost of cutting a program was. All you have shown is that there is an immediate benefit directly to the taxpayer in not spending money.

    Take Pell Grants, for instance. Setting aside the problems with the for-profit institutions which have been making huge sums of money, what would be the cost to the community in denying lower-income students the opportunity to get an education? The benefit in the short run is very obvious. Money not spent. But what happens when we perpetuate and exacerbate the gap between the haves and the have-nots? Everyone is decrying the increasing gaps between wealthy and poor strata in our society. So what do we do about that gap? Oh, of course! Stop funding any attempt to help the poor get an education which makes them just a little bit better-qualified to move up the economic scale just a bit.

    I hasten to point out, however, that there exists a similar cogent argument for the other side of the equation. To justify the payout of the Pell Grants it is necessary to show that there is a benefit to society that approximates the cost of the grants. It is the weighing of these factors that we must perforce leave to the politicians who make the rules and fund the games. In a microcosmic sense that’s all we are discussing here and usually elsewhere.

    The real bottom line on this seems to be:

    Screw the poor; I’ve got mine and I am by GOD going to keep it because when you get right down to it I don’t give a rodent’s rear about the plight of anyone except myself. This is the ultimate NIMBY.

    • Almandine  October 3, 2010 at 7:50 pm

      “Screw the poor; I’ve got mine and I am by GOD going to keep it because when you get right down to it I don’t give a rodent’s rear about the plight of anyone except myself. ”

      You clearly don’t know anything about me except that we disagree on how to make our country’s future brighter. Govt is not the only – nor the best – mechanism to provide for our success. To wit, if the Pell grants of which you speak were so hot, we’d not be in such bad shape regarding the “education” of our countrymen, who are outranked by many foreigners.

      As for pols making the rules and funding the “games”… read my link again and see where that’s gotten us.

  8. logtroll  October 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    GHL has hit the nail on the head (an emminently appropriate use for a hammer, by the way). The Economy is a very complex, essentially infinite, set of transactions woven into a fabric. Indiscriminate pulling of threads can cause the failure of the entire garment, which you may think is necessary; but what is the thinking that promotes destroying a thing intentionally just because you think it is going to fail? Is ‘Al the Hammer’ a sel-fulfilling prophet? (Oh, my god, that sounds Arabic!)

    A government is not a business. A government is a social management structure (inherently “socialist”, whether you like it or not). Businesses must operate in a fairly narrow system of transactions that have nearly immediate effects on the company (direct benefit-cost choices).

    A government operates on a larger view of benefit-cost effects that allows for extended transactional strings that can (should) create multiple benefits that are not all normally accounted for in dollars, but aggregate tangible and intangible benefits.

    For the record, I don’t revere any Congressionals; I happen to believe that they tend to be just as stupid as the rest of us, complete with unwise, short-term reactions to events. The suggestion I made of impotence relates to the attitude that an ordinary person can have no effect on our system of social management.

    Everything the Gummit does is not bad. Everything the Gummit does is not good. Give up if you want and indulge in impotence, I’m not going to share that defeatism with you, Al the Hammer.

    • Almandine  October 3, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      FYI – govt is not necessarily “socialist” and is not there to manage social structure… unless people allow it to, or it is stolen from them. Our govt was chartered to defend us and promote opportunity, but we let it get taken from us around 1913 and haven’t recovered. The welfare state was put in place to keep folks from rising up too fast and hard.

      Further, any govt that operates as other than a business will go bankrupt in short order. We’re there. And that’s not defeatism talking, just the facts.

      As for being a hammer? I’d smash all the socialist crap that’s weighting us down, replace it with true freedom of opportunity instead of the trendy egalitarian redistribution of wealth that is reducing us all, and say to everyone: Better get out there and make your way as best you can, because the rest of the world is moving as fast as it can to eclipse us, and it will happen if we don’t get a move on.

      So I’m not trying to destroy anything. Quite the contrary. That seems to be the province of all you pollyannas who believe that we’re involved in “business as usual”.

  9. logtroll  October 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Like my Mama woulda said, Big Al, “I feel for ya but I can’t quite reach ya”.

    Politics is the art of the possible.

  10. Carl Nemo  October 3, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    “A government operates on a larger view of [benefit-cost effects] that allows for extended transactional strings that can (should) create multiple benefits that are not all normally accounted for in dollars, but aggregate tangible and intangible benefits.” …extract from logtroll post… my brackets

    It this were the case then why is our government and a host of others worldwide; flat, dead broke and on the verge of going bellyup while showing ever less ‘tangible’ benefits to their citizens…? / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

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