Monday, March 4, 2013

The Williamsburg Accord: What Boehner promised the lunatic caucus

In mid-January, Speaker Boehner was facing a rebellion in the House from what I call the "lunatic caucus." A few of them had even mounted an opposition to his re-election as Speaker. And so you might remember that they held a retreat to try to work things out.

The result was what Republicans are calling the Williamsburg Accord.
The speaker promised members that his leadership team was committed to advancing their goals in the 113th Congress. He would uphold the sequester, allowing for reprioritization. He would push a 10-year balanced budget. He would hold the line against further tax hikes. In return, Boehner requested enough votes to temporarily raise the debt ceiling. Perhaps more important, the speaker asked for patience and for unity of purpose, pleading with his untrusting subordinates to give him the chance to keep these promises.
This is why Boehner can't/won't negotiate about the sequester...he promised the lunatics that he wouldn't. In addition, he promised that Paul Ryan would come up with a budget that balanced in 10 years and that he'd hold the line on raising anyone's taxes. His life as Speaker depends on keeping those promises.

Whether he can maintain the cooperation of the lunatics remains to be seen. Already the Club for Growth is howling at the passage of Hurricane Sandy relief and the Violence Against Women Act.  And some factions are trying to "move the goalposts" and put pressure on the Speaker to insist that he ignite a government shutdown if the upcoming Continuing Resolution doesn't defund Obamacare. I doubt he'll be able to satisfy the lunatics for long.

The only hope for sanity is the development of a common sense caucus. Linda H. over at what IS working has published a GREAT list of Republicans who might be open to some sanity on the budget, immigration and gun violence legislation. So go take a look at the list and see if your Representative is on it. If know what to do!

1 comment:

  1. What's interesting about NY's Republicans, particularly Gibson and Hanna, is that they're in "swing" districts. A big chunk of both of their districts used to be represented by Maurice Hinchey, who retired. Gibson was originally recruited by the Tea Party, but once Hurricane Irene struck, he decided he represented a district, not an ideology. The lesson wasn't lost on either of the two that the "hard-line" Tea Party representatives got kicked to the curb last year.