The Washington Post

John Boehner: Judge Republicans by the laws they don’t make

House Speaker John Boehner vehemently defended the strategic approach Republicans have adopted since winning the majority during an appearance on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, insisting that making more laws is the opposite of the party's governing philosophy.

House Speaker John Boehner.

"We should not be judged by how many new laws we create," Boehner told CBS' Bob Schieffer in an interview that aired Sunday. "We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal. We've got more laws than the administration could ever enforce."

Here's Boehner philosophy in a sentence: The government that governs most, governs worst. Or in the immortal words of Kunu (aka Paul Rudd) in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall": "The less you do, the more you do."

Boehner used that line of argument to defend himself against charges that the repeated attempts to repeal all or part of President Obama's health care law is a pointless legislative exercise. "The program isn't ready," Boehner told Schieffer. "This is not good for the country. And we're going to stay at it."

Staying at it, of course, will go nowhere as neither Senate Democratic leaders nor the White House has any interest in even taking up any of these House repeal bills -- much less acting on them.  And that ensures gridlock, which, if you follow Boehner's logic is better than the alternative -- a Democratic president achieving his priorities without any serious opposition from the other side.

"We've got a divided country," Boehner explained to Schieffer. "We've got a divided government. Democrats have the White House. They have the Senate. American people sent Republicans here to the House. We have divided government."

In essence Boehner is arguing that, in blocking Democratic legislation and pushing GOP-backed bills with no chance at becoming law, he is representing the significant chunk of people who voted for Republican members of the House in 2010 and 2012. "We deal with what the American people want us to deal with," added Boehner.

(Just to play devil's advocate for a moment: Republicans do control a majority of seats in the House, but they actually won less of the popular vote for House in 2012 than did Democrats. House Democrats won 48.5 percent of all votes, as compared to 47.8 percent for Republicans; the GOP won almost 54 percent of the total seats, however.)

Regardless, Republicans not only currently control the House but, due to redistricting, are likely to remain in the majority for the foreseeable future. There are simply very few competitive seats for either party these days and without a national wind, which could always kick up, the status quo (or close to it) seems the most likely outcome.

What that electoral reality means is that smart money says not much will be getting done in Washington over the next few years. Which, if you see the world like John Boehner does, is the best possible result from the Obama years.


Helen Thomas died Saturday.

President Obama will give a series of economy-related speeches this week.

Boehner won't take a position on a new path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says it would be "profoundly unfair."

Well-known GOP debate coach Brett O'Donnell signs on with Cuccinelli's campaign.

The RNC outraised the DNC by $2.6 million in June.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) tweets that a man said Cohen is essentially black, after a paternity test showed Cohen is not the father of a woman he thought was his daughter.

Nate Silver is taking his talents to ESPN.


"The first black president speaks out first as a black American" -- Davis Maraniss, Washington Post

"After Detroit bankruptcy filing, city retirees on edge as they face pension cuts" -- Zachary A. Goldfarb, Washington Post

"Republicans in Arizona are at odds on Medicaid" -- Fernanda Santis, New York Times

"Even the Aide Who Coined the Hastert Rule Says the Hastert Rule Isn't Working" -- Molly Ball, The Atlantic



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Chris Cillizza · July 21, 2013

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