John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, could pass reasonable legislation if he were in fact the Speaker of the House. However John Boehner has ignored the Constitutional obligations of that office, a position that also makes him number three in the line of Presidential succession, and rather has been acting as speaker of the Republicans in the House. As a result he is a prisoner of the radical Republicans, which represent a majority of his caucus, and our country has been put in jeopardy.
Democrats in the House would be more than willing to pass the bill already passed by the Senate which would preserve tax cuts for people making less then $250,000. They would also be willing to enact reasonable things to implement the savings that would not jeopardize the most vulnerable in our country or hurt the recovery. Bills like that could pass with only a few dozen votes from reasonable Republicans. But the Speaker of the Republicans John Boehner is unwilling to bring bills like that to the floor. He won't do it because he does not view his role that way. He sees himself only as the leader of the Republicans with no responsibility to the country.
The situation we see now with Boehner is quite unusual. Here is but one example of many of how the House and the Speaker are supposed to function. In 1991 the House of Representatives was controlled by the Democrats and Tom Foley was the Speaker. President George H. W. Bush wanted to go to war against Iraq. The Democratic leadership of the House did not support going to war. Nonetheless, Tom Foley, the Speaker of the House, understood that it was his responsibility to bring the Iraq war resolution to the floor of the House for a vote. The resolution passed by a vote of 250 to 183. Foley brought that resolution to the floor even though he voted against it and only 86 of the 265 Democrats in the House supported the resolution. The Republican vote was 164 to 3.
Whether you supported or opposed the Gulf War resolution there is no question that it was a matter that deserved to be voted on and that since we are a democracy, the majority should prevail. The same is true today. On major legislation that is supported by the President, the Senate, and a majority of Americans, the Speaker has an obligation to bring it to the House for a vote. He has that obligation even if he opposes it and even if a majority of his caucus opposes it. That is how our government is supposed to operate that is how the Speaker of the House is supposed to lead that body.
It is high time that Boehner become the Speaker of the House.
Personally, I hope nothing happens before the new Congress is sworn in. There is no cliff, but there are some things that need to be done early next year such as extending unemployment insurance, the Medicare doc fix, more stimulus, adjusting the sequester and eliminating or pushing off the debt limit silliness. But none of that will pass if Boehner refuses to behave like the Speaker of the House.