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In Praise of Speaker John Boehner

Earlier today, the House of Representatives passed the GOP budget authored by Representative Paul Ryan by a vote of 228-191 (a day after President Obama’s budget was voted down in the House 414-0, which comes a year after Obama’s budget was voted down in the Senate 97-0). It’s therefore worth a tip of the hat not simply to Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee, but also to Speaker John Boehner.

It was Boehner who a year ago gave the green light to Ryan to push ahead with his bold budget, even though then (and now) it calls for fundamentally reforming Medicare. Last year in particular the fear among many Republicans and conservatives was that advocating a restructuring of Medicare was political suicide. It hasn’t turned out that way, but that wasn’t known at the time. And Boehner’s support was crucial to Ryan; without it, the Wisconsin representative could never have pushed ahead.

More broadly, Boehner has shown himself to be a first-rate Speaker – trustworthy, keeping his caucus together during trying moments, avoiding (for the most part) missteps, and demonstrating both pragmatism and a commitment to conservative principles. Boehner isn’t perfect, he’s not the flashiest speaker in history, and he doesn’t see his role as saving Western civilization and standing between us and Auschwitz. But he’s a very able and experienced politician, a steady hand on the wheel, and he’s shown courage in his own understated way.

That isn’t acknowledged nearly as often as it should be by conservatives.

 


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