"By His Own Measure, John Boehner’s Congress Is Still The Most Counterproductive In History"
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) raised eyebrows on Sunday when he responded to criticism that he is running the least productive Congress in history by suggesting that House Republicans should be “judged on how many laws we repeal,” rather than pass.
Through gerrymandering, the GOP won a 234 to 201 majority in the 2012 elections — even though most Americans voted for a Democratic Representative — and has frequently refused to compromise or consider legislation that lacks the support of a majority of Republicans. In fact, if voters were to take up Boehner’s challenge and judge the House based on how many laws Republicans repeal, they’d discover that his Congress is still the most counterproductive in history, focused on undermining vital health care and environmental projections and almost all government regulations of businesses. Here are just six examples:
1. Health care. House Republicans have now voted nearly 40 separate times to repeal Obamacare. Doing so would remove a lot of the protections and benefits enjoyed by poor and middle-class Americans, including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps, better care for women and young adults, and subsidies for people looking to purchase individual insurance.
2. Environmental protection and climate change. On a largely party-line vote, the House voted to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of the authority to enact any regulations “concerning, taking action relating to, or taking into consideration the emission of a greenhouse gas to address climate change.” They called this proposal the “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011.” A year later, they also voted to eliminate green energy funding — a bill they termed the “No More Solyndras Act.”
3. Clean and fair elections. Among the Watergate-era reforms enacted to prevent future campaign finance scandals was a public financing law providing matching funds for presidential primary candidates and grants for major party nominees and conventions. While in recent years the soaring costs of political campaigns have forced most major candidates to opt-out of the system, rather than update and repair it, House Republicans voted repeatedly to eliminate the system altogether. They also voted to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission, the bipartisan group created after the 2000 election to help local officials ensure smooth and fair elections.
4. Home Affordable Modification Program. Though HAMP, a program designed to help struggling homeowners, has fallen well short of expectations — due in part to a lack of cooperation from banks — there is still a lot of money remaining to help Americans stay in their homes. Repealing the program, as Republicans voted to do in 2011, would leave them with nothing.
5. Consumer banking regulations. In 2011, the House voted to weaken a key component of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The measure would have made it harder for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to enact new regulations and made it easier to for government officials to override the bureau’s decisions. And, through passage of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget, the House Republicans also voted to strip the provisions that protect taxpayers from having to bail out failed financial institutions.
6. All other regulations. Most stunning of all, House Republicans actually passed a bill last year that would have effectively stopped all new regulations. The “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act,” would have mandated that “no agency may take any significant regulatory action until the unemployment rate is equal to or less than 6.0 percent,” taking away the administration’s power to protect safety, public health, and a level playing field.
Though they have not yet come up for votes, Congressional Republicans this year have also proposed repealing the federal tax code, the Dodd-Frank law, the Estate Tax, the 2010 student loan reforms, and federal legal aid.