I highly recommend reading the Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial today on House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis (R.-Calif.), whom the Journal calls “The Minority Maker” for his opposition to common-sense budget reforms.
As I first reported last Friday and wrote about again on Tuesday, Lewis was the obstacle that led to the collapse of a budget deal last week, leaving Republicans little to show before taking a two-week recess. Lewis’ refusal to go along with a plan to budget for emergencies highlighted the absurdity of his stubbornness.
The Journal’s editorial paints a dire picture for the GOP this November as a result of the obstruction of Lewis and his cohorts on the Appropriations Committee. Here’s an excerpt:
A category five political storm is building in GOP precincts around the country, and it is going to blow Republicans right out of the majority in November if they don’t soon give their supporters some reason to re-elect them. So far this year they’ve passed limits on free speech that liberals love, but they haven’t been able to extend the wildly successful 2003 tax cuts by even a mere two years. And now they won’t even allow a vote on budget reforms that their own President and a majority of their own Members support.
At the current pace, a Democratic majority in Congress would be preferable, if only for reasons of truth in advertising.
So who is to blame for this? Clearly, Lewis is the culprit. But shouldn’t leadership do something about it?
For a change, I’m not going to pick on Majority Leader John Boehner (R.-Ohio), who was correct to single out Lewis’ committee on national TV last Sunday. Here’s what Boehner said on ABC’s “This Week”:
I think the differences on spending between the moderates and conservatives, I think we can work through that. The big problem that prevented us from moving ahead this week was getting real earmark reform. And I think we need transparency and accountability in the placing of earmarks in these spending bills. And, unfortunately, some of my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee don’t agree.
Boehner’s not the top dog in the House. That job belongs to Speaker Denny Hastert (R.-Ill.), who almost never bears the brunt of criticism, but in this case should. Instead of working on getting a budget deal done last Friday, Hastert flew to India on taxpayer-funded trip. It’s too bad Lewis wasn’t part of the delegation.
As is the case in the Senate—where Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter (R.-Pa.) seems to have more pull these days than Majority Leader Bill Frist (R.-Tenn.)—Republicans can’t get their act together. They’ve dropped the ball on two of the biggest issues before them: immigration and spending.
And as the Journal editorial makes clear, spending shouldn’t even be an issue. Republicans are supposed to be the party of limited government, aren’t they? Apparently not by Lewis’ standards. He’s no fiscal conservative and never has been. (His lifetime American Conservative Union rating is 83%, and last year it was a paltry 76%.)
Now that Hastert is back from India, conservatives can only hope he puts his foot down and tells Lewis enough is enough.