Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Prime Minister Boehner

Suppose that we were a parliamentary democracy. In such a system the chief executive would be the person who controls the House of Representatives. Now it so happens that our current House, in the 113th Congress, as of September of last year, was composed of three parties: the Tea Party, with 48 members, the Republican Party, with 184, and the Democrats, with 200. Looked at in this way, the Democrats are in the majority. After the elections, which produced this result, Nancy Pelosi would have had to form a coalition government. She would have opted for what in Europe they call a Grand Coalition, thus one formed of the two largest parties. Moderate and mainstream Republicans would have been much more acceptable to Pelosi than a lash-up with tea drinkers. The government would have been generally moderate, but in such a situation as prevails today, shutdown and fiscal cliff, the outcome would have been sensible, let us say.

Our current “prime minister” opted for a coalition that isn’t working well at all, thanks to the Hastert Rule under which no legislation is offered for a vote unless the majority of the majority, in this case the Republicans and Tea Party combined, are certain to win the vote. With the Tea Party adamantly opposed to a sensible solution, namely let’s have an operating government and funding for it before we tackle issues of a lesser magnitude, doing the sensible thing threatens Boehner’s role as the de facto PM. If he allows a vote, the sensible solution will pass—but Boehner may not be able to hold on to his job.

Is one man holding up the show? Looks like it to me. The Senate laboring valiantly on a deal suggests an odd situation. I have a terrible case of indigestion—and Brigitte is doing her best to help by taking Alka-Seltzer.

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