Orange is the new black: A question for Boehner


Arthur Jones

Arthur Jones

At last weekend’s White House Correspondents Association dinner, President Obama offered this joke about John Boehner’s spray tan: “These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me – which means orange really is the new black.” Well played, POTUS.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, John Boehner – the Speaker of the House of Representatives – stood at his podium in 2011 and 2012 and asked: “Mr. President, where are the jobs?”

If you read my Op-Ed column with any degree of regularity, you know I respect Mr. Boehner. I’ve defended Mr. Boehner in spite of his frequent inability to get his Republican colleagues in the House to vote in unison on, well… anything. That is, unless you count the 51 times (thus far) they’ve voted to repeal/deny/destroy the Affordable Care Act – or that one time last fall when they voted to shut down the United States government over the Affordable Care Act. Yeah, good times. I happen to have a few questions for Mr. Boehner myself, though.

Mr. Boehner, where are we on advancing meaningful immigration reform? Over 11,000,000 immigrants are ready, willing, and able to come out of the shadows. They want to pay taxes, pay a penalty, and take all the steps to be legal citizens of this country; which would help to lower our national deficit. Why won’t you let them? Why won’t you bring immigration reform to a vote, sir?

Mr. Boehner, where are the jobs? The “red wave” of 2010 occurred when Republicans retook the House of Representatives on the promise of job creation for the American people. And yet, President Obama’s job bills have been systematically and repeated shot down by the GOP since then. Here are the head-scratching aspects, though. The national unemployment rate is currently at 6.3% – its lowest point in several years. Month after month, the labor report show the uptick in new American jobs; especially in the critical areas of construction and manufacturing. There are the jobs! America’s real estate market is recovering nicely. At 16,550.97, the American stock exchange has never, ever been higher. It has literally doubled since President Obama took office in January of 2009.

The media, as a whole, very rarely reports these points. Conservative leaders will exercise their right to remain silent on these facts; or more likely, deny their existence altogether. These facts are the case in spite of the complete gridlock in Washington, D.C. Imagine if the Republicans in the House had been even a little cooperative in terms of putting Americans back to work. Where would America be in terms of our unemployment rate if that had been the case? 5%? Lower? Imagine if the Republicans in the House acknowledged the fact that this nation’s crumbling infrastructure must be addressed. Et tu, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Boehner, where is the legislative fix for the Voting Rights Act? Section 4 of the VRA was gutted a year ago. Haven’t heard a word from you – or the GOP – about this. American women, minorities, and college students are waiting. And watching.

Mr. Boehner, where is the climate change legislation? As more evidence of the melting of our polar ice caps mounts, the deniers of climate change cry foul. As the intensity and frequency of tornadoes and hurricanes are measured, all efforts to address climate control are vigorously fought against by Republicans.

This is the inherent problem when a number of their leaders seem to hate science. Climate change (or global warning) adversely affects people, animals, species distributions, and ecosystems globally. Climate change adversely affects precipitation and certain bodies of water. No water, no crops. No water, no animals. No water, (far) less people. Why is this difficult to understand? The U.S. should be leading this cause; and not from behind.

I hear plenty of sound and fury signifying nothing on Obamacare and Benghazi. There has been plenty of finger-wagging and meaningless posturing on the IRS and Fast & Furious pseudo-scandals. The GOP hopes to throw enough gotcha balls against the wall until one sticks so that they can keep their impossible dream of impeaching President Obama alive. That would be fine if the Republicans were also taking care of America’s business instead of just their own. But it’s not – because they’re not. The GOP’s leaders are currently too busy bashing each other over the head running for re-election in 2014. They’re presently too pre-occupied with vying for the Republican Party’s nomination for President in 2016; to earn the right to get Hulk-smashed by Hillary Clinton then.

Mr. Boehner, words have consequences. Actions prompt reactions. And political in-action begets political participation from the American voters. Mr. Boehner, why won’t you do what you can to move America forward? Why won’t you put the nation’s burning issues to a vote? What’s stopping you? Who’s stopping you? And why? I could care less about you making the President look good. I just want you to help make America stronger.

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