Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who is John Boehner?

New House Speaker Boehner Promises To End 'Business as Usual'
Cindy Saine
Capitol Hill
05 January 2011
House Speaker John Boehner (r) hugs outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after receiving the gavel during the first session of the 112th Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, 05 Jan 2011
Both houses of the new U.S, Congress convened in Washington Wednesday to have their members sworn in to office. Republicans now control the House and have a larger minority in the Senate and are promising to change the way things get done on Capitol Hill. Our correspondent reports on a day of ceremony and celebration before fierce legislative battles begin.
The new Republican-controlled House elected John Boehner to be the new speaker to replace outgoing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by a vote of 241 to 173, with 19 members voting for other lawmakers or voting present. House clerk Lorraine Miller announced the result.
"Therefore the honorable John A. Boehner of the state of Ohio, having received the majority of the votes cast, is duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives of the 112th Congress," said Miller.
Nancy Pelosi was the first woman Speaker of the House in U.S. history. The new House Minority leader passed the gavel over to Boehner.
"We now engage in a strong symbol of American democracy - the peaceful and respectful exchange of power. I now pass this gavel, which is larger than most gavels here, but the gavel of choice of Mr. Speaker Boehner," said Pelosi. "I now pass this gavel and the sacred trust that goes with it to the new Speaker. God bless you Speaker Boehner."
The House chamber was filled with the newly elected members of Congress, who were accompanied on
opening day by their spouses, children and grandchildren and other relatives. Incoming Speaker Boehner greeted his wife, two daughters and 10 of his 11 brothers and sisters who were in the chamber. He wiped tears from his eyes as he gave his first speech as Speaker.
"The American people have humbled us," said Boehner. "They have refreshed our memories as to just how temporary the privilege to serve is. They have reminded us that everything here is on loan from them. That includes this gavel, which I accept cheerfully and gratefully, knowing I am but its caretaker. After all, this is the people's House."
Republicans swept midterm elections across the country in November, resulting in divided government in Washington. Speaker Boehner said voters sent a clear message that they are not happy with the state of the country.
"We gather here today at a time of great challenges. Nearly one in 10 of our neighbors are looking for work. Health care costs are still rising for families and small businesses. Our spending has caught up with us, and our debt will soon eclipse the size of our entire economy. Hard work and tough decisions will be required of the 112th Congress. No longer can we fall short. No longer can we kick the can down the road. The people voted to end business as usual, and today we begin carrying out their instructions."
Both Boehner and Pelosi vowed to look for common ground to work across party lines wherever possible. But many of the new lawmakers sworn in Wednesday in the House and Senate are staunch fiscal Republicans supported by Tea Party activists, who advocate a very limited role for government and low taxes and may be reluctant to compromise with Democrats.
One of the first items on House Republicans' agenda is to cut governments spending, starting with cutting their own operations budget. House Republicans have also vowed to vote next week to repeal President Barack Obama's signature domestic accomplishment, health care reform. Efforts to repeal the reform are likely to fail because Democrats still hold a majority in the Senate.
On the Senate side, Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said he will press ahead with President Obama's agenda to create jobs and put the economy on a more solid footing. But Reid will also face stronger opposition from a strengthened Republican minority.
From heartland to House speaker, Boehner eyes cuts
By Thomas Ferraro
Posted 2011/Jan/05
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2011 (Reuters) — John Boehner, the product of a tough upbringing in America's heartland, will bring a natural mistrust of big government when he takes over as speaker of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) gestures during a news conference of newly-elected House GOP leaders for the 112th Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington November 18, 2010.
The conservative Republican -- a former small businessman who worked his way through college as a janitor -- will be in a position to slam the brakes on President Barack Obama's largely liberal agenda, push spending cuts and shake up Washington.
Having led Republicans to victory over Obama's Democrats in the November congressional elections, Boehner, 61, will be formally chosen by his colleagues as House speaker shortly after the new 112th Congress convenes at noon.
The son of a bar owner, Boehner used to share a bathroom with 11 siblings at their childhood home in Ohio. He will now become second in the line of succession to the presidency, behind only Vice President Joe Biden.
Boehner's Republicans want to cut $100 billion in government spending this year and repeal Obama's healthcare reform, which they see as intrusion of government into people's lives.
While some of that agenda seems aimed at hindering Obama wherever possible and preventing his re-election in 2012, Boehner's politics often appear heartfelt.
"I started out mopping floors, waiting tables, and tending bar at my dad's tavern. I put myself through school working odd jobs and night shifts," Boehner said last year.
"I poured my heart and soul into a small business. And when I saw how out-of-touch Washington had become with the core values of this great nation, I put my name forward and ran for office," he said.
Boehner was first elected to the House in 1990 after heading a plastics company and serving six years in the Ohio state legislature.
He may well shed a few tears on Wednesday when he takes the gavel from the current speaker, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. He has cried on several occasions in public, including on election night in November when he recalled his struggles.
Low Key Start
He will attend a church service with his family on Wednesday to mark his new role but, apart from making his maiden speech as speaker, Boehner plans to keep the day low-key as a deliberate show of austerity.
Wall Street, which has contributed heavily to Boehner and opposes much of Obama's agenda, has mostly welcomed the Republicans taking the House. But Democrats still control the Senate and can block many Republican moves.
Boehner is seen as pro-business, personable and resilient.
"The Street is starved for someone with real life experience in Washington and John Boehner fits it to the 'T,'" said Chris Krueger of Capital Concept, a private firm that tracks Washington for institutional investors.
During the 2010 campaign, Boehner often talked with pride about crafting a bipartisan deal in 2001 to pass a landmark bill, "No Child Left Behind," to upgrade American education.
But questions remain about whether Boehner is a partisan warrior unwilling to work with Obama to shrink the $1.3 trillion budget deficit and create jobs.
The two men cooperated to forge a tax deal that Congress passed last month, but many contentious economic issues like the deficit and debt ceiling lie ahead.
"Once John Boehner's sworn in as speaker, he'll have a responsibility to govern. You just can't stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower," Obama said.
Boehner says he will seek common ground with Obama but will not compromise his conservative principles.
"When you say the word 'compromise,' a lot of Americans look up and go, "Uh-oh, they're gonna sell me out,'" Boehner said. "So finding common ground, I think, makes more sense."
He reached out to the Tea Party movement, a loose coalition of groups nationwide that has energized Republicans while being critical of both parties for what they see as too much government.
Chris Littleton, a Tea Party leader in Boehner's congressional district, said he first met with the Republican leader in 2009 and blasted him and other Republicans for big spending and federal intrusion during the Bush administration.
"We hit him pretty hard," Littleton recalled. "He admitted mistakes. He said, 'We lost our way.' He's right. They did."
John Boehner Cries. Again. A Lot.
Are Women and Democrats Held to a Different Standard?
By Russell Goldman
Dec. 13, 2010
John Boehner, the incoming Speaker of the House, the most powerful Republican in Washington, and a man who in a matter of days will be second in line for the presidency, has twice had an opportunity to introduce himself to the American people.
And on both occasions, he cried – a lot.
There is a tradition of politicians crying in America and it often ends with getting beat at the polls. Already some of the incoming speaker's supporters are getting worried that the Ohio Republican's penchant for showing his emotions makes him look weak.
Others, however, have championed Boehner for his willingness to be real.
"This is not exactly the first impression you want to make to the American people," said Republican strategist Ed Rollins. "We've seen his sensitive side enough already. But a sensitive side isn't what the country wants to see in a strong leader. He's got to show strength and leadership and a willingness to stand up to the president. You never saw Pelosi crying"
On Sunday night in a lengthy "60 Minutes" interview, the Speaker-designate broke down twice, talking about his rise from humble beginnings as a janitor and again in talking about his hope for children.
"Family – kids -- I can't go to a school anymore. I used to go to a lot of schools. And you see all these little kids running around. Can't talk about it," he stammered.
Last month, on election night as returns came in and it was clear Republicans had won the House and Boehner would be speaker, he also cried.
"It's full-bore crying," said interviewer Leslie Stahl. "It's not just little tears and he does it a lot."
Some Democrats and women have suggested there is a double standard. When Republicans cry, they are "compassionate conservatives" but crying women and Democrats furthers the stereotype that they're weak.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic woman who Boehner will replace, has never cried in public.
"You know what? He is known to cry. He cries sometimes when we're having a debate on bills," Pelosi told the New York Times in November. "If I cry, it's about the personal loss of a friend or something like that. But when it comes to politics -- no, I don't cry. I would never think of crying about any loss of an office, because that's always a possibility, and if you're professional, then you deal with it professionally."
"For men, it is a sign of compassion. For women, it's a sign of weakness. It's the double standard that worries me," said Democratic strategist and ABC News consultant Donna Brazile.
Hillary Clinton cried briefly at a campaign stop in New Hampshire in 2008. She was criticized, by some, for manufacturing the tears as a way to appeal to women voters.
"Democrats always get a lot more criticism for crying," said Larry Sabato Jr., director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "Democrats have an image of weakness among some – though I don't agree with that characterization. If Obama or Pelosi blubbered in public they would be made fun of constantly. But maybe Boehner will be made fun of."
"There's a point," Sabato said, "where it just starts to look weird."
George W. Bush teared slightly soon after 9/11, but never took any flack for it.
Perhaps the most famous politician to cry may not actually have cried at all. Ed Muskie, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968, is widely considered to have lost all momentum, and his campaign collapsed, when he broke down in front of reporters while defending attacks made on his wife. Muskie claims that he never cried, but that snow had melted on his face.