House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) slipped up and said something uncharacteristically conservative in an appearance on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday: He said that the American regulatory and legislative environment is bloated and that Congress should be in the business of repealing laws — not making them.
That’s the kind of Tea Party talk Americans have come to expect from a tiny minority of conservative Senators like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz or from Representative Justin Amash, but to hear the small sermon on small government from the mouth of the Weeping RINO is confusing. After excoriating Obamacare and hemming and hawing about his true stance on immigration legislation, Boehner offered this:
…[T]he American people are looking up at a government that’s out of control. It’s too big to govern. And so the mission I came here with as a small businessman 23 years ago is still my mission — to fight for a smaller, less-costly, a more accountable federal government, to empower the private sector to be all that it can be, to create jobs for our kids and grandkids. That’s what drives me every day. And I know people from the outside look in and go, “how can he put up with all this nonsense?” But I don’t look at it that way. I stay focused on the mission I came here with, and it’s still the mission I have.
…[W]e should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal. We’ve got more laws than the administration could ever enforce. And so we don’t do commemorative bills on the floor. We don’t do all that nonsense. We deal with what the American people want us to deal with. Unpopular? Yes. Why? We’re in a divided government. We’re fighting for what we believe in. Sometimes, you know, the American people don’t like this mess.
In throwing true conservatives a bone, is Boehner motivated by some internal party pressure? Is the vocal minority of conservatism in Congress — and among back-home constituents — becoming more vocal and less of a minority?
Lest people worry that Boehner is experiencing a sea change in his philosophy of government, a look at his discussion of immigration reform should set their minds at ease. CBS host Bob Schieffer tried everything but waterboarding to coax out of Boehner a definitive explanation of his views, but the best he could manage was this response:
If I come out and say I’m for this and I’m for that, all I’m doing is making my job harder. My job is to — as the leader of the House — is to facilitate this conversation, this process, that involves members on both sides of the aisle, involves the American people, and when they can see us moving in a deliberative, step-by-step, commonsense way.
…Yes, I’ve got certain things that I’d like to see accomplished. But this is not going to be about me. I said it the opening day. And it’s never going to be about me. It’s what’s in the best interest of the country. If we’re listening to the American people and we’re following their will, our House will work just fine.”
So… are you for amnesty or not? Didn’t quite catch that.
Perhaps the biggest reassurance that the Speaker hasn’t truly bought in to the whole “get government out of the way” ethic came in Boehner’s breezy conflation of government entitlement with government deregulation:
Republicans have a plan for job creation. We’ve been at this now for the last two and a half years. And whether it’s making student loans more affordable, stopping unnecessary regulations, trying to get our budget deficit under control — all of these things would help get our economy moving again.
So cheap government-subsidized loans and disentangling government treats from people and institutions somehow go hand in hand?
For now, it looks as though Boehner’s transitory moment of clarity was just that: a moment.