OTHER VOICES

Boehner faces a choice on the budget and debt limit

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L) wipes away tears after speaking at a remembrance of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 11, 2013. Bagpipes, bells and a reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed when hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field marked the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2001.
JONATHAN ERNST | REUTERS
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (L) wipes away tears after speaking at a remembrance of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, September 11, 2013. Bagpipes, bells and a reading of the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed when hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field marked the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Posted Sept. 16, 2013, at 1:39 p.m.

Pity John Boehner. His Republican majority in the House of Representatives, like his speakership, depends on an unruly fringe of lawmakers who disdain not just the idea of compromise but also the act of governing.

As Congress faces not one but two looming fiscal deadlines, Boehner would do well to ask himself: How does he want to be remembered?

The federal government needs money for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, and it will probably reach its debt limit a few weeks later. Congress has the constitutional obligation to appropriate the money that enables the government to function. If it fails, the consequences would be dire.

Voters dealt Boehner a weak hand. Even so, he has played it badly, trying to appease the most adamant of his caucus, tying a measure to fund the government to one that would defund and postpone implementation of the dreaded health-care law. His plan went awry when the rank and file realized that the Senate would have been able to detach the funding mechanism from the Obamacare killer, sending an unfettered funding bill on to the president for signing.

Meanwhile, on the debt ceiling, Boehner appears to be waiting for a deus ex machina to extricate his caucus from a fast-approaching debacle. Once again, the more radical members of the party insist on flirting with financial ruin for the sake of another wild stab at taking down Obamacare.

The House’s recurring efforts to tar and feather Obamacare — it has voted to repeal, delay or defund all or part of the law at least 40 times — represent the bulk of Boehner’s achievements. It’s a legacy marked by juvenility, steeped in pathos, verging on abject failure.

Bloomberg News (Sept. 16)

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