John Boehner’s remark after the Obamacare rulings about working every day until the election will be repeated ad nauseam to the House Speaker’s credit and to his detriment. The best of intentions aside, there are not enough days in the next ten years to fix the mess Capitol Hill legislators have created, even if the Affordable Care Act was wiped from the face of the earth tomorrow.
Last summer the fate of the nation hinged on the debt crisis (see: Damaged Economy Left Behind, Congress Flees the Scene). After the debt ceiling was raised and our credit whacked, we were finally handed a package of federal debt fixes that included fuzzy spending cuts and a bill assigning a carefully chosen, super group of legislators to repair the damage caused by their colleagues’ spending. Americans were also threatened with sequestration, a punishing stab at a debt crisis solution, in the event legislators failed to agree on where to cut government spending. The fiscal doomsday mechanism will greet us just after the 2013 New Year.
Voters on both sides of the health care law will be angry with the Supreme Court for what seemed like a decision not to decide. Don’t blame the justices. Blame Democratic legislators who colluded with the president to dream up this expensive boondoggle and its Medicaid public option while federal debt, deficit, and government spending on the Recovery Act skyrocketed and joblessness was at record levels. Bad decision or not, we should have some sympathy for the court. To their credit, they probably read the bill line for line, a claim most legislators would likely refuse to sign their name to. Lawmakers did, however, sign their names to sequestration, a problem that will soon be staring Congress in the face.
If John Boehner wants to stay in session every day to fix what ails us, Republicans should seize the moment. They should work through their summer recess while fellow legislators flee for their vacation homes. They should remain in session through the Independence Day holiday and call it “Independence from Obama Day” while Democrats enjoy fireworks, booze, and barbecues. When their opponents come back relaxed and refreshed from their long summer break, Republicans will already have a fall agenda fixed in stone, from solving the debt crisis, to ridding us of Obamacare, to the issue that will occupy legislators in November and December, how to get rid of their fail safe solution for government spending.
Will Republicans do it? Not on your life. Nothing is going to happen before November 6. When legislators decide to finally get something accomplished they will first have to figure out how to get around sequestration while making good on new election promises to slash spending and address the federal debt crisis. Immigration will still be a problem. We will still need jobs, probably more than we need now if things stay on track and unemployment continues to rise. We will still be stuck with Obamacare, something Republicans promise to get rid of posthaste, but unless there is a radical shift in the partisan makeup of Congress, the Washington stalemate will continue. Forward progress will be impossible. Failure to agree is how we came up with sequestration in the first place. All legislators have to do is agree on how to get rid of it between Election Day and their Christmas vacation. If they can agree on that, they can fix anything.