Is John Boehner the Real Deal?
Cantor acknowledged that the election results were not an endorsement of all things Republican: “We know very clearly that that election was a repudiation of what had gone on in this town. It wasn’t necessarily an election about us.”
While Boehner aired themes on Wednesday, Cantor was all business this week. Without flourishes, Cantor was straightforward and activist-oriented. Speaking at a packed press conference in his new office as the majority leader, he promised: “This will be a results-driven Congress,” with many actions coming right out of the gate.
Cantor unveiled an aggressive three-week road map that he says will lead up to the president’s yearly State of the Union address. Usually the House is pretty quiet in the weeks before the presidential speech -- not so this time. Cantor’s playbook will include the repeal of ObamaCare on January 12, rapid cutting of specific federal programs, and the “targeting of job-killing regulations.”
An immediate contrast is the repeal of the health care bill: last year the Democrats unveiled an impenetrable 2,000-page bill, the Republican repeal bill is only two pages long.
Many Washington insiders believed the Republican campaign slogan of “repeal and replace” ObamaCare was merely playing to the Tea Party crowd. Instead, it now will be the first signature bill taken up by the House.
“It is going to reflect what most people inside the Beltway and outside the Beltway understand about the health care bill that was passed,” he told reporters. “It is a job-killing health care bill that spends money we don’t have. We will repeal it and replace it with the kind of health care most Americans want.”
Most reporters at Cantor’s first press conference as majority leader seemed unimpressed. One said they heard Democrats characterize it as “political theater” and a “Kabuki Dance.”
But he was not asked whether any Blue Dog Democrats would vote for the repeal. Nineteen Democrats decided to abandon Pelosi as their next speaker. Would some also join Republicans on repealing ObamaCare? Also, when it is repealed, what pressure will there be on vulnerable Democratic senators up for re-election in conservative states? Might a few feel pressure to join the 47 Republican senators and vote for repeal? And what does a presidential veto look like to the public? None of these issues were raised by a single reporter among the nearly 100 who crammed into Cantor’s room.
As expected, Boehner called for more accountability and transparency. Yet he really is changing House rules that will help Democrats to thwart legislation. As he said, he will hand Democrats the power to “disrupt” pending legislation. This was never the case in the Pelosi House, which was run with a firm, authoritarian hand.