John Boehner has a new line he’s trying out to justify the Republican House’s rejection of Barack Obama’s jobs bill: “We’re legislating. He’s campaigning. It’s very disappointing.”
The campaigning part? He has a case to make there. But legislating? The House of Representatives? The 112th Congress? Hard to believe that Boehner could say that one without bursting out laughing. The current House has done hardly any legislating at all. They could barely pass a bill to keep the government’s lights on back in the spring, and they almost send the nation into default in the summer. They missed the deadline to pass appropriations bills just last week, and there’s still no guarantee they’ll be able to do it after their new November extension.
And outside of that there’s ... well, almost nothing. As Obama pointed out today, there is no Republican initiative that can meaningfully be called a jobs bill. They passed a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but did not keep their promise to develop a “replace” bill, or even begin the work on doing so. Same thing on financial regulation: they don’t like Dodd/Frank, but there is no Republican alternative.
To the extent that they do bother to develop bills and move them to the House floor, Republicans aren’t really legislating, because they have no intention of developing laws that can pass through the Senate and earn the president’s signature. Thus the health repeal, and thus their regulatory agenda this fall, little or none of which has any real chance of becoming law.
The key here is that real legislating requires compromise, especially during times of divided government. And House Republicans have no intention of compromising with either the Senate or with Barack Obama. They’ve said as much; they believe that compromise is per se a bad thing. And that means there won’t be any legislating, no matter how much the president might want it (and don’t forget he spent most of the summer trying, for better or worse, to strike a budgetary Grand Bargain). Even now, if Boehner really offered to deal on jobs, I don’t think anyone doubts that Obama would hop off the campaign trail and try to work something out. But there will be no legislating, because the House isn’t going to do it.
No matter what talking points John Boehner might trot out.