House Speaker John Boehner might be feeling the heat on his right flank, but the nation owes him a debt of gratitude for sparing us more useless, down-to-the-wire drama over whether or not the U.S. government should pay its bills.
Now that the Senate has followed the House lead to raise the debt ceiling — with no budget-cutting, Obama-punishing strings attached — we are thankful that the bickering (on that issue at least) won’t come up again until March 2015.
Of course, by then, President Barack Obama could be an even lamer duck and the GOP could have taken back the Senate and all bets would be off.
In the wake of the House vote, tea partiers and other extremist Republicans are taking aim at Boehner’s leadership. So the political gamesmanship will prove entertaining to watch in the coming months as the GOP continues to fracture just when Republicans think they are gaining momentum and just as the economy is giving out further recovery signals.
Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen made her debut before Congress on Tuesday and, despite her recognition of some recent softness in the labor market, she projected a modestly encouraging outlook on the economy. Let’s hope that she and others who see an expanding recovery are right and that economic improvement embraces not just Wall Street but also many everyday Americans who are unemployed, under-employed or otherwise in precarious financial situations.
Most Americans are not feeling so optimistic, according to the weekly Gallup Economic Confidence Index, which has been declining since early January. Obviously much work remains to be done. Congress and the president should get on with it. And, as Boehner must have recognized (just a week after caving to his hardliners on immigration), they should continue to exploit every opportunity to avoid brinksmanship and promote progress instead.