Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Get Your Ass In Line"

        So said House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner in a closed door meeting yesterday with his rebellious Republican caucus.  And although I don't think his debt ceiling plan is the right one (and apparently neither does the Congressional Budget Office), I like Boehner.  Why?  He's from Ohio, not the usual coastal flake.  He's the second of twelve children, so he knows how to share.  He grew up in modest circumstances - no rich, prep school, Ivy-leaguer he.  He started working at his family's bar at age 8, always a good sign in my books.  He was a linebacker on his school's football team, so he's tough.  Rather than dodging, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.  He earned a B.A. in business administration over seven years as he held several jobs to pay for his education.  He worked his way up in a small business all the way to the CEO's office, so he knows those ropes too.  He has been re-elected 10 times.  During his freshman legislative year, Boehner took on the House of Representatives establishment on both sides of the aisle, and successfully closed the scandalous House Bank, uncovered "dine-and-dash" practices at the House Restaurant, and exposed drug sales and illegal cash-for-stamps deals at the House Post Office.  Good stuff, that.  He was also a major force in the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, saying it was his “proudest achievement” in two decades of public service.  In the last election Boehner campaigned to reform the so-called "earmark" process and rein in government spending.
     However, like all long-term politicians, Boehner has baggage: In 1995, he distributed campaign contributions from tobacco industry lobbyists on the House floor as members were weighing how to vote on tobacco subsidies. "They asked me to give out a half dozen checks quickly before we got to the end of the month and I complied.  And I did it on the House floor, which I regret.  I should not have done.  It's not a violation of the House rules, but it's a practice that‘s gone on here for a long time that we're trying to stop and I know I'll never do it again."  Boehner eventually led the effort to change House rules and prohibit campaign contributions from being distributed on the House floor.  (We all make mistakes; he publicly acknowledges his and tries to repair them.)  A 2010 NY Times story said Boehner maintains "tight ties with a circle of lobbyists and former aides representing some of the nation’s biggest businesses, including Goldman Sachs, Google, Citigroup, R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors and UPS."  (I despise lobbyists of any kind.)  And in November 2010, Boehner, and others, called for the cancellation of an exhibit in the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery after he learned that it featured a video that contained an image of a crucifix with ants crawling on it.  (Write that off to his Irish Catholic upbringing.)  Although Boehner does have a conservative voting record, when he was running for House leadership religious conservatives in the GOP were not satisfied with his positions.  (Good.)  According to the Washington Post: "Boehner, as chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, took ardently pro-business positions that were contrary to those of many in his party.  Religious conservatives - examining his voting record - see him as a policymaker driven by small-government economic concerns, not theirs."  (Good, and good.)  Boehner has received a "0" rating from the Human Rights Campaign in the last three congressional sessions of voting.  In a letter to the Rights Campaign, Boehner stated, "Please be assured that I will continue to work to protect the idea of the traditional family as one of the fundamental tenets of western civilization."  He is a hawk militarily, yet has called on the President to justify spending for military operations against terrorists.  And on September 18, 2008, Boehner attended a closed meeting with congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and was urged to craft legislation to help financially troubled banks.  That same day (trade effective the next day), Boehner cashed out of an equity mutual fund.  (Makes him look bad, but then he's not a rich man either, verdict: a dumb, but not illegal, move.)  On October 3, 2008, Boehner voted in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).  He has been an ardent opponent of Obama, as is the duty of the opposition in any democracy.  In 2011 Boehner called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act “one of our highest legislative priorities.”
     Okay, so he's not perfect. Who among us is?  The point here is that this guy deserves the respect and obedience of the Young Turks of the Tea Party.  Get your ass in line indeed.

Today's Good News:  It looks like my Euro short position may pay off.