Farm Press Blog

Leadership vacuum adds to Washington budget turmoil

  • The current House leadership has had six months to pass a new farm bill but farmers will be planting soon with no idea of what kind of programs will rule in 2013.
  • Last week, House Speaker John Boehner said the Senate would have to resolve the fiscal crisis that threatens the nation's economic recovery.
  • With this kind of leadership, it's no wonder the public has a crisis of confidence in its government leaders.

I hate to be a Grinch so soon after Christmas, but it looks like it’s time for House Speaker John Boehner to go.

As farmers prepare to turn the calendar on the new year, they and their lenders don’t have a clue about the farm programs that will exist in 2013 because Speaker Boehner has been sitting on the farm bill for six months.

And now, at a time when the country needs leadership, Boehner has thrown up his hands and said the Senate will have to fix the “fiscal cliff” budget mess because Boehner can’t deliver the votes needed to help solve the crisis.

In many of the world’s democracies, Boehner would already be halfway out the door after the House balked at passing a major piece of legislation like the budget bill he offered and then withdrew before Christmas. The failure would have precipitated a “no-confidence” vote that would have meant new elections.

Not having the votes has become Boehner’s mantra. During the six months that a bipartisan group of House members tried to get him to allow the farm bill to come to the House floor, Boehner claimed he couldn’t bring it to the floor because it didn’t have enough votes for passage.

Now, Senate leaders are trying to put together a tax bill that is, ostensibly, supposed to originate in the House. It remains to be seen what Boehner will do if the Senate pulls off a miracle and works out a compromise. The claim that he once again can’t produce the votes will not be well received in official Washington. 

It's difficult to imagine what some of Boehner's predecessors must be thinking as they watch the current turmoil in Washington. The late Sam Rayburn, Jim Wright and former Speaker Newt Gingrich must be shaking their heads.


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