Speaker of the House John Boehner has the deep, velvety voice and calm speaking style of a PBS documentary narrator. His address to CPAC 2012 might have been a 2013 documentary, coming to us via time warp:
“It would be a year and a half after the enactment of the Economic Freedom Act of 2013, under a new President, and a new Senate,” Boehner envisioned. “The economy is growing after the tax code has been reformed, from top to bottom. Thousands of special-interest loopholes are gone, and rates have been permanently lowered for every American.”
“The deficit’s dropping,” the Speaker continued, “and entitlement programs are being saved… because Washington now operates on Paul Ryan’s budget.” Actually, having a budget at all would be a big improvement, as this is apparently beyond the capabilities of the Democrat Party. Paul Ryan’s budget would be even better yet. 2013 sounds pretty good, Mr. Speaker! Tell us more!
Boehner obligingly peered a bit further ahead. “I have this vision of this great September 2014: gas prices are falling, as the Keystone pipeline is being built, and preparations are made to drill on a tiny patch of ANWR’s 19 million acres.”
What about ObamaCare? Well, that’s been “repealed and replaced with market-based reforms that protect the greatest health care system in the world.” Also, “there are no czars, or boards of bureaucrats, telling employers where they can and cannot create jobs.”
“Talk about a ‘shining city on a hill?’ It sounds like Utopia to me,” the Speaker opined.
“Utopia” can be interpreted to mean “nowhere.” It’s going to take hard work to make such a future real. A better President might be the architect of renewed American strength, but engineers will be needed to move legislation to his desk. That will be Boehner’s job. He remembers a lot of people said building Reagan’s America was a job that could not be done, and that conservative congressional victories in 1994 and 2010 were impossible.
“Even with control of all branches of government,” Boehner explained, “real reform doesn’t happen all at once. It’s one step at a time.” He takes some heat over the size of the steps he’s willing to take, but conservative visionaries should remember that in the end, all of their big dreams will boil down to vote tallies on C-SPAN. Good ideas with abundant popular support still need legislative technicians to turn them into Capitol Hill programming code. Without that, all we’ll have are Sunday-morning roundtable excuses for why Washington failed to do the right thing.
Boehner noted that despite many reforms and improvements his caucus has already put in place, “nobody loves Congress.” One of the many reasons for their perpetually ugly approval ratings is that most people don’t understand Congress. They only know they don’t like the taste of the legislative sausage that pushes slowly out of its hidden grinders. That machinery cannot be cleansed, or illuminated, with a single victory, not even those as great as 1980, 1994, or 2010.
If you like the sound of the future Speaker Boehner envisions for 2013 and 2014, make sure there are friendly voices on the line when he calls the Senate Majority Leader’s office, and the White House.