Speaker of the House John Boehner took a hard stance leading up to and throughout the two-week partial government shutdown about defunding the Affordable Care Act.
And how people nationally perceive Boehner’s job performance in this latest battle between the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House and the Republican-controlled House is different than people in his own district view him.
An 11th-hour vote on Oct. 16 — the day before the Congressional Budget Office said the government could default if the debt ceiling was not raised — could be a watershed moment for the West Chester Twp. Republican. Only 30 percent of the country approve of the job Boehner has done, according to a recent CNN/ORC International poll. Republicans took a hard line to not raise the debt ceiling without defunding the health care law enacted in 2010.
The failure to defund Obamacare, the perception that Republicans led by Boehner caused the government shutdown, and the infighting within the GOP in Congress are all likely contributors to Boehner’s lackluster approval rating.
Hamilton resident John Trent, who lives in the Rossville Historic District, said he believes Boehner and the Republicans in Washington were “wrong to take a stand like they did on the matter in the first place.”
“The debt ceiling should not have been used as a pawn in this very important game of chess,” said Trent, who labels himself a Republican with bipartisan influence. “The damage that would have been caused to our already weak economy by not raising the debt ceiling would have been catastrophic.”
Trent did not see Boehner as a leader leading up to and during the partial government shutdown, but instead he said “he was simply following the lead of others, and that’s why he folded when it came down to the wire.”
Mark Etterling, a Liberty Twp. Tea Party member and former board member for the group, said he wished Boehner would “stop believing the hype” about how bad things are and pay attention to the long-term effect.
“The government shutdown only impacted 17 percent of the government,” he said.
Etterling only sees one who would have a real shot at taking on Boehner for his speakership as that would be Rep. Paul Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate and Miami University graduate. But poll numbers aren’t much to get work up over, he said, as Congress, which has a 12 percent approval rating, according to the CNN/ORC poll, frequently is re-elected.
“We whine about them in the polls, but we still vote for them anyway,” he said.
Boehner and 86 other Republicans in the House voted for the Senate bill that raised the debt ceiling until early next year in order to avoid default. But none of those Republicans were the four Ohio congressmen from Southwest Ohio and the Miami Valley — Steve Chabot, Brad Wenstrup, Jim Jordan, Michael Turner, who represent about 20 percent of the state in Washington, D.C.
Many attributed the Tea Party faction in Washington, D.C., as pushing the Republican Party in Congress to hold that strong line about not raising the debt ceiling and wanting legislation to defund the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare. Among those who are supporters or members of the tea party, the CNN/ORC poll shows a 35 percent approval rating.
In his only interview and statement following the Oct. 16 Senate vote and before the House vote, Boehner said on 700 WLW: “We just didn’t win.”
“We’ve been locked in a fight over here trying to bring government down to size, trying to do our best to stop Obamacare,” he said on the radio program.
Since the government reopened, Boehner has been continuing to carry the banner to defund the health care law that’s had plenty of difficulties when the health care exchange website — where people can sign up for the Affordable Care Act — rolled out on Oct. 1. The GOP has steadily claimed the health care law is bad for America, and Boehner has said the problems with the website are just at the surface of the problems of the law.
“This economy’s not creating the jobs that the American people are looking for. Their wages are stagnant, and part of the problem is that we’ve got the whole threat of Obamacare continuing to hang over our economy like a wet blanket,” Boehner said on Oct. 23. “Employers are scared to death in terms of what they have to do and what they don’t have to do, afraid to add new employees.”
Before Boehner visited FinPan, a small business in Hamilton, last Friday, he spoke with about 35 business leaders from the Fairfield Chamber of Commerce at the Oscar Event Center. Fairfield chamber President and CEO Kert Radel said while he and the chamber don’t take a political stance on the health care law, the members he has spoken with are frustrated with new costs they have to bear.
“Obamacare, good, bad or indifferent, is having a lot of affect on a lot of businesses and some of the affect right now has not been very positive because with every business I’m talking to, their insurance rate is going up,” said Radel.
Many chamber members, he said, are seeing increases of between 24 percent and 34 percent “and when you have this kind of rate increase, it’s going to have a real effect on the bottom line, and it’s a concern to the economy itself. When you have these kinds of hits, it’s certainly going to have an impact on the economy.”
Boehner issued a column Monday following his visit to Butler County and described his trip as a “listening tour.” He said many small businesses “are being forced” to make tough decisions as the health care mandates are enacted. He said FinPan has 46 employees and are holding off hiring new full-time employees because of the law.
“Despite all the big promises from the president and his administration, Obamacare is not working for FinPan. And, based on the hundreds of messages I’ve received in recent weeks, it’s clear the law is not working for others in our area, either,” he said.
Butler County GOP chairman Dave Kern said he’s not surprised by the poll because of “the media bias toward John.”
“The people in his district know and appreciate the stances he’s taken,” Kern said. “How strong he’s been on Second Amendment issues, how strong he’s been on pro-life issues.”
Butler County Democratic Party spokesman David Spurrier said the national poll numbers reflect what many in the 8th Congressional District — which covers all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties and part of Mercer County — believe: “John Boehner has shown his inability to lead.”
“Working families are struggling and they are tired of Boehner’s total unwillingness to govern,” Spurrier said. “Voters in the 8th District understand that we elect representatives to serve us, and that means working across the aisle to find compromise and get things done. We cannot afford any more of Boehner’s politics of brinkmanship.”
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