The Corner

Boehner Promises Improvements in Process, But Policy Needs Improvements, Too

Newly minted House Speaker John Boehner was appropriately humble and reassuring in his inaugural speech to the 112th Congress. His pledges of openness and cooperation were welcome, after the rancorous and iron-fisted rule of the Pelosi years.

But his remarks were about process, not policy, and it is regarding policy that believers in limited government must remain vigilant. It is important to remember that Boehner was part of the Republican leadership during the Bush era of spendthrift, big-government conservatism. Like most Republicans, he now claims to have gotten the message: that Republicans lost their way before losing control of Congress four years ago. But ultimately it is actions that will count.

Republicans need to focus unerringly on reducing the size, cost, and intrusiveness of government. That will require all Boehner’s legislative skill. He will have to ensure that members make painful decisions to cut spending, even when it hurts their narrow parochial interests. He will have to avoid the push from some quarters to waste time on divisive social issues. And he will have to resist the siren song of compromise for the sake of compromise.That, not any words, will ultimately determine whether Boehner’s speakership is a successful one.

— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.

Michael Tanner — Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of Going for Broke: Deficits, Debt, and the Entitlement Crisis. You can follow him on his blog, TannerOnPolicy.com.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More