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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inmates run the asylum

The kamikaze wing of the Republican Party may not be ready to accept defeat, even after humiliating Speaker John Boehner. And that raises questions about whether our gridlocked government is capable of accomplishing anything in 2012.

Boehner's glum concession to putting a two-month payroll tax and unemployment benefit extension on the House floor was a huge blow to what was left of his credibility as leader. Let's review:
  • Boehner asks Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to negotiate a temporary extension with Majority Leader Harry Reid that cut put the issue on hold for two months. The Senate approves the compromise 89-10;
  • The Tea Party Caucus forces Boehner to walk back the agreement, setting off a week of political chaos in a Washington where senators had already spread to the four winds;
  • Boehner is forced to change direction again -- by fellow Republicans like McConnell -- and put the measure before the full House today.
Still required is unanimous consent to end his nightmare -- and as of this writing Boehner is not sure he has that.

Much has been made of Barack Obama's leadership, or lack thereof. But what has finally become crystal clear is that it is Boehner who has failed to exercise leadership, allowing party politics to trump the national interest. That leaves Obama alone as the only adult in the room looking out for the greater good.

Yeah, it's tough to compromise when only one side is willing, but someone has to make the hard choices. And we are far better off than we were when Republicans and their Wall Street puppet masters drove the economy over a cliff.

There's still a long way to go until November and predictions are foolish, if not downright dangerous. But it is clear the Tea Party has offered their opposition a treasure trove for political commercials by opposing a tax cut and jobless benefit extension aimed at the people hurting the most from the Bush Recession.

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