It’s an embarrassing time to be a Republican Congressman—albeit an outgoing Congressman.As negotiators, we utterly failed to meet our two objectives: to reduce spending and prevent tax increases. President Obama demanded tax increases with small spending cuts, and that’s exactly what passed.
Thanks to the leadership of Speaker John Boehner, the House passed a bill which raises taxes by $620 billion while cutting spending by a mere $15 billion over 10 years. Usually, a compromise is an even trade (one-for-one). In this trade, House and Senate Republicans traded $41 dollars in tax hikes for every $1 dollar in spending cuts—not exactly a balanced approach.
Conservatives can thank the Republican establishment for this profound failure.
While establishment Republicans and the media blamed Tea Party conservatives for holding up a deal, we found out last night that Speaker Boehner was willing all along to balk 150 members of his caucus and join with the Democrats to raise taxes.
Speaker Boehner and his merry band of establishment Republicans wanted to blame the tea party freshman for putting him between a rock and a hard place during these negotiations, but that wasn't the case. The truth is, protecting the establishment from their own votes is what has put him in such an untenable spot.
By running out the clock, the Speaker gave his establishment members cover to vote for a deal with President Obama. Boehner is more interested in cutting deals that don't rock the boat with President Obama than defending conservative, debt-reduction principles. This type of compromise is what gave us this fiscal cliff in the first place.
In the last two years, the Speaker has given the Democrats exactly what they wanted. Remember, he agreed to creating the failed Super Committee—planted as a Trojan Horse by Reid and the President—which gave Democrats what they really wanted: deep cuts to the military and tax increases, both of which they could blame on Republicans.
In the last month, he destroyed his negotiation leverage by starting with an opening offer of an $800 billion tax hike. Instead of forcing President Obama to lead, he capitulated more revenue every time President Obama gave a counter-offer.
He spoiled the political capital given him in the 2010 elections. He negotiated with himself, he never forced Obama to lead, and he never forced the President to put his offers in a bill and force Democrats to vote on it.
All the while, Speaker Boehner’s approval rating has dropped to 17%—lower than Nancy Pelosi and every other national leader. His speakership has been a massive failure.
The question is begged, should Speaker Boehner remain? Moving forward, he will never embrace a successful narrative to lead conservatives into policy and electoral victories. He’ll only lead us to more capitulation, more tax hikes, and more spending.
So will Republicans let Boehner lead us to electoral defeat in 2014?
Democrats will run against Boehner in 2014 like Republicans ran against Nancy Pelosi in 2010. Unpopular Speakers are toxic in swing districts, and there’s no question Republicans will struggle to keep the House under Boehner’s unpopular leadership.
Then a majority of Americans enter the voting booth in 2014 and 2016, they should be thinking that the "Obama Taxes," the "Obama deficits," and "Obamacare” are the cause of their discontent. However, if Boehner retains the gavel, the American people likely will blame both he and the President—giving up any high ground conservatives had.
Republicans like Speaker Boehner are holding hands with Democrats to their own demise. They’ll share the blame for the “Boehner-Obama tax increases” and the “Boehner-Obama deficits.”
As an outgoing member of Congress, let me say what my colleagues can’t: We need fresh leadership now, or the Republican party will lose in 2014 and beyond.
We can’t afford to lose the debt ceiling debates, the budget debates, and every battle in between. We need a leader to make a moral case for the Republican vision, not to fall into President Obama’s narrative and negotiation ploys. For out movement’s sake, I hope someone steps up to the challenge tomorrow on the House floor.
Congressman Jeff Landry represents the Louisiana’s 3rd district. Today is his last day in office.