John Boehner, I feel your pain. Everybody seems to be ganging up on you. If it’s not President Barack Obama, it’s Harry Reid in the Senate, or Tom Friedman and his journalistic acolytes, or even some members of your own caucus. And let’s not forget those volcanic rumbles emanating from nearby Mount Norquist. What’s a guy to do?
Might I humbly suggest you bring on the cavalry -- namely, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and his merry band of penny pinchers? Although his final term as governor is drawing to a close, and his next job title will be president of Perdue University, I think Daniels would welcome one more chance to serve the nation.
Why not try a skunk works team (a la Silicon Valley) to produce a package of real cuts, as in programs defunded and struck from the statutes? Surely that would be better than those typical head-fake cuts that claim to save money by “curbing the growth of spending in fiscal year 2020, blah, blah.”
I realize there are oodles of dusty reports about reducing government spending, but I believe a Daniels work product would be breathtaking in its cuts. After all, he was the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget in the early days of George W. Bush; I’ll bet he knows where a lot of bodies are buried … and can spot a likely bureaucratic sinkhole at a thousand paces.
If Obama doesn’t want to talk about cuts, so be it. His endgame is to get tax increases and more spending. But if Republicans must (as a last resort) give in to any tax increase, no matter how small, we must have real spending cuts (not those namby-pamby future “cuts” I mentioned earlier).
House Speaker Boehner needs to have Daniels produce a list of outdated, dysfunctional and bloated programs and practices -- and then show that list to the American people and demand that the cuts take place immediately. As in right now.
Over at the White House, I expect Obama is ready to “promise” cuts in the future or cook up another commission to study the issue. Any Republican who falls for that mess of pottage ought to be ashamed.
It’s this simple: No immediate substantial cuts -- no deal.
So please, Mr. Speaker, entice Gov. Daniels to come to Washington one more time. You could get him a nice parking spot on the Capitol apron for his beloved Harley. Who could resist such blandishments?
And, finally, Mr. Speaker may you ever be heartened by these words from Daniels: “You’ll be amazed at how much government you’ll never miss.”
Joanne Butler is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a former professional Republican staff member at the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee.