Every adult, and likely most children, have seen a display of righteous indignation where someone reacts with an emotional angry outburst over their perceived mistreatment, an insult, or some form of injustice. In fact, in many Christian doctrines righteous indignation is regarded as the only form of anger which is not sinful; such as angry Old Testament god commanding his “people” to exterminate entire populations, or when angry Jesus made a whip and drove “bankers” out of a temple. On Thursday, Americans were treated to an exhibition of righteous indignation when Speaker of the House John Boehner lashed out at conservatives for opposing the last minute budget agreement announced on Wednesday, but there was nothing righteous about Boehner’s outburst and his indignation was as phony as the so-called “bipartisan budget agreement.”
At Boehner’s press conference, his phony indignation targeting conservative groups he bent over backwards serving over the past three years did not have an ounce of truth or credibility. He claimed that Heritage Action, Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers, and Freedom Works had “lost all credibility,” and were “using our members, misleading their followers, and pushing our members in places they don’t want to be,” and that they had “pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government.”
Boehner can blame conservative belief tanks and the Koch brothers for all manner of imagined slights against Republicans, but he went too far when he accused them of pushing Republicans into fighting to defund the Affordable Care Act or shutting down the government. First, Boehner is Speaker of the House and as such he, and he alone, was responsible for the shutdown as well as the forty-plus votes to repeal or defund the President’s healthcare insurance overhaul since 2011. Boehner could have garnered Democratic support to end the shutdown at any time, but he was too busy letting Ted Cruz run the House. As far as pushing Republicans to defund the ACA, the first repeal vote of 2013 was the 34th time Boehner wasted taxpayer time and money, and his excuse was that some of the “newer guys wanted a chance to vote to against Obamacare” so he gave them the opportunity several times since then even though Boehner knew it would never work. He even had the temerity to criticize one of the conservative groups for saying after the government shutdown debacle that “One of these groups stood up and said ‘We never really thought it (defunding Obamacare) would work.'”
The reason Boehner feigned outrage at the conservatives running the House is that he desperately wanted the budget agreement, Ryan’s Path to Prosperity-lite, to pass for several reasons. For one thing, it cut discretionary spending at austerity levels more than Ryan’s prior budgets that could never get past the Senate. It also spared the wealthy and corporations from any tax reform, robbed federal employees’ pensions, and guarantees unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed will expire three days after Christmas.
If the budget passes the Senate, Republicans have no reason, and Democrats have no leverage to force them, to address corporate tax reform, unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, or truly fix sequester cuts that are now cemented in place for nine more years. The only thing about this deplorable budget that conservative groups on the receiving end of Boehner’s phony indignation hate is that it contained any discretionary spending on domestic programs and did not privatize Medicare and Social Security. Other than that, it is a deficit hawk’s wet dream and Boehner put on a show to get it passed in the House last night. Hopefully Senate Democrats will see the budget for what it really is; the Path to Prosperity, death for any unemployment benefit extension, and the loss of any leverage for corporate tax reform, infrastructure improvements, or preserving food assistance for hungry Americans.
The other reason Boehner put on an act for the cameras was to assuage the damage Republicans put on themselves with the shutdown. If he was seriously angry at Ted Cruz and hardline conservatives, where was his outrage at them for pushing Republicans to let the farm bill languish all year long, or pressure them to bifurcate SNAP (food stamps) out of the bill as irrelevant? While he was spitting and spewing venom at the Koch brothers’ groups; where was his righteous indignation at them for pushing House Republicans to allow immigration reform to go untouched all year, oppose job creation, minimum wage hike, corporate tax reform, or infrastructure improvements the President called for during the State of the Union and Inaugural speech? There was none, and Boehner had an answer for focusing his outrage on opposition to the budget; “Listen we are taking these issues on one at a time. The goal for today is to get this budget agreement passed.” Sadly, that is all that House Republicans passed before they go on hiatus and they will start 2014 sucking up to the Kochs’ conservative groups and doing their bidding when they hold the debt ceiling hostage again.
There is a reason this session of Congress is the least productive in history and it all starts with John Boehner and his dedication and devotion to the Kochs’ conservative groups. He was not outraged at those groups he claimed is “pushing our members in places they don’t want to be” because Boehner’s caucus is precisely where Boehner wants them to be and he proved it time and again when he prevented bipartisan Senate bills from even coming to the floor for a vote. If, and there is evidence there was, any of Boehner’s members were interested in working for the people and against the Koch brothers’ groups, he could have appealed to Democrats for assistance and they would have obliged him just to help the American people. However he did not, and whether it was the farm bill, food stamp cuts, tax reform, immigration reform, jobs programs, or raising the debt limit without jeopardizing the nation’s credit, he always did the bidding of the conservative groups he railed against over a budget agreement that does nearly as much damage to the economy as Republicans and the Kochs’ groups wanted all along.
Boehner is the worst kind of scum, and no phony act of righteous indignation against his puppeteers over one heinous Ryan budget will ever change that fact. He wanted an austerity budget for two years and he got it; without extending unemployment benefits or funding SNAP. As soon as Democrats, or the President, ask him to work for the American people to raise the debt limit, reform corporate taxes, reform immigration, create jobs, feed hungry Americans, pass a farm bill, or fund infrastructure improvements, he will go through another righteous indignation act to show the Koch brothers’ groups that House Republicans will not be pushed to a “place they don’t want to be;” helping Americans or defying hardline conservatives.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.