This post is really just a couple of questions.

  • Why is John Boehner still the Speaker of The House?
  • What has John Boehner done to earn and keep the position of Speaker?

Consider these questions in this context.

But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. — James Madison from The Federalist No. 51

What we need Speaker Boehner to do is to restrain the spending excesses of the President and the Senate. Because of the requirement to raise the debt ceiling to borrow more money, Boehner has enormous leverage, but he acts as if he has none.

Think Congress is dysfunctional during these fiscal-cliff negotiations? What if John Boehner can’t even get enough House Republican votes next month to be reelected as speaker?

Far-fetched? Perhaps. But at least one conservative group says Boehner’s hold on the speaker’s gavel should not be viewed as a done deal. It is launching an all-out effort aimed at about 100 House Republicans to see if it can find at least 17 of them angry enough, and bold enough, to block Boehner’s reelection when the new Congress commences on Jan. 3.

“With Boehner basically out there promoting a tax hike and removing conservatives from key committees, these are not good precedents for the next two years,” Ned Ryun, whose father, Jim Ryun, was a representative for Kansas, complained to the National Journal on Thursday. (continued here)

So what are the Democrats really worried about? Count on the AP to tell us.

The government is on track to hit its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit later this month. And while the Treasury can keep the government functioning through early next year, President Barack Obama is bluntly insisting that any deal on the fiscal cliff include an end to brinkmanship on the debt ceiling.

Obama is demanding tax rate hikes on the rich, using the prospect of a worse alternative and the momentum of his re-election as leverage. But the debt ceiling gives Republicans a powerful weapon to extract further deficit reduction too, contributing to the current stalemate. (from here)

What Boehner and company should be doing is explaining the 14th amendment.  The relevant part is in section 4.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void. (from here)

If Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling, then lots of our money would still be flowing into the Treasury, but Obama would not be able to borrow more to spend more. We could cover our debts, but many the Democrats’ beloved social spending programs would rightly lose their funding.

The 14th Amendment requires our President to pay on our nation’s debts. Welfare programs and entitlement programs qualify as gifts, not debts.

So how does Obama want to “solve” the problem? What has he proposed?

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said on CNBC on Wednesday, “We are not prepared to have the American economy held hostage to periodic threats that Republicans will force the country to default on our obligations.”

To that end, Obama is asking to make permanent a mechanism used to implement last year’s $2.2 trillion debt limit hike. That mechanism, designed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., requires the president to notify Congress of the need to lift the debt ceiling and request an increase in the borrowing cap. The request would not require congressional approval, but Congress could pass a resolution to disapprove the increase, and the president could veto any such move.

McConnell called Obama’s proposal “a power grab that has no support here.”

“It gives the president of the United States unilateral power to raise the limit on the federal credit card, the so-called debt ceiling, whenever he wants, for as much as he wants,” McConnell said. (from here)

Obama wants power, not a Congress that gets in his way. Given the opportunity, Obama would just send Congress home — permanently. If Boehner and the Republicans who chose him to lead are not willing to fight, they may as well go home. They are certainly not doing us any good in Washington D.C.