Today will mark the beginning of a new day in America. John Boehner will be officially sworn in as the next Speaker of the House. Yes, there will be a lot of pomp and ceremony surrounding the swearing in, and we can expect an emotional speech from the second most powerful man in the country (let’s face it, what does Joe Biden do other than play golf and break Senate ties), but the day after, he goes to work. His caucus will feature 85 new Republicans than previously, nearly one-third the total, and more will bear the Tea Party label as well as the GOP one, which means there will be a committed conservative bloc of representatives that will not be lockstep with his leadership, and has no qualms breaking party lines if it reeks of deficit spending and a growth in federal power. These two factors will make for what is arguable the most conservative caucus in the modern era. Armed with this new majority, Boehner will have to tackle some of the gravest problems in America today: an economy still on the brink, a seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, the fast approaching problem concerning the debt ceiling, and a deficit spiraling out of control. It will be a test of his leadership abilities, his ability to stand up to President Obama and Harry Reid to get his voice heard, and a test for Obama to see if he understood the results of November 2nd, and how people want to see Washington working again.
It is at this moment that John Boehner will be well served to remember the last time the GOP grabbed control of the House 16 years ago, when Newt Gingrich took the gavel. In his speech that year, Gingrich laid out his hopes and his ambitions for the future, some of which are no different than the issues today. In that speech, Gingrich laid out his plans for welfare reform, fixing government bureaucracy, as well as a promise of a balanced budget by 2002 (achieved nearly five years ahead of schedule). The results of Gingrich’s leadership were a balanced budget, and an era of prosperity that we can only look fondly back at today. Sure, liberals will say it was all Bill Clinton, and how great he was, and how Gingrich was some evil guy that obstructed everything. Clinton does deserve his share of the credit for this success, but to get a budget passed, it takes work on both the House and President to get it done.
Boehner needs to be aware of the responsibility he has to fix this country’s financial worries, and must take a serious look at the financial “bridges to nowhere”, like the Health Care Law and the Stimulus bill, and start shrinking government. Obama has made strides in cutting spending, such as pay freezes for federal officials. More must be done, and it is the duty of the Republican leadership to make those cuts, regardless of whose districts take the heat, and so-called “golden eggs” like defense and entitlements. Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan’s plan features such cuts, and have bipartisan appeal. Some Republicans may be squeamish about the cuts, but we must make sacrifices in order to get the country going again. In addition, the Debt Commission report should be brought for discussion. It isn’t perfect, but so far it is the best plan for deficit reduction we have right now, and especially the parts concerning reducing defense spending and the age line for Social Security, which could save billions of dollars right away.
Regardless of how you feel about the results of November, John Boehner carries with him the hopes of a better America for our kids and our grandkids. His leadership will be the most watched and most scrutinized of any Speaker before him, and he must perform to the expectations of those that went to the ballot box demanding change. If he succeeds, which I hope he does, America will be on the road to recovery in ways President Obama’s spending binge couldn’t deliver. If he allows President Obama to continue with his destructive agenda of spending and government growth, we can forget about being a superpower ever again.