Will a New House Speaker Solve Our Problems?

by | Oct 9, 2023

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Last week we witnessed a dramatic, historical first: A Speaker of the US House of Representatives was removed from that position by a vote from Members of that body. US Rep. Matt Gaetz was able to gather enough Republicans dissatisfied with the leadership of then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy to send him packing.

What was the last straw? According to Gaetz, it was McCarthy’s secret deal with President Biden and the Democrats to bring up another huge funding package for Ukraine separately if they agreed to support a bill to keep the government open without Ukraine money in it.

Gaetz and his allies were angry that they were kept in the dark about the deal and in the end it only took eight Republican rebels to end McCarthy’s eight months in the Chair.

Several thoughtful Members, including my friend Thomas Massie, made convincing arguments that Republicans removing the Speaker would do little to nothing when looking at the bigger picture of a record US debt, a continuously growing budget deficit, and runaway inflation. It would also, he argued, do little to fix a broken House of Representatives where Members are more interested in showboating than taking a needed chainsaw to the massive yearly Omnibus spending bill that has taken the place of individual funding bills for each part of the Federal government.

When I was in the House we mostly worked under what was called “regular order,” where each individual appropriations bill was brought to the floor and debated sometimes for several days, and with unlimited amendments, before they held a vote. With regular order there was at least a chance that Members and staff could actually read the bills and try to make changes. Multi-thousand-page omnibus bills brought to the Floor at the last minute with a demand that they be passed immediately is part of the reason we are up to our eyeballs in debt. They can – and do – sneak everything into them!

Even with the deserved criticism, however, there is still something satisfying about seeing such a shake-up over the issue of foreign interventionism. After a year and a half and more than $100 billion sent by Biden’s neocons for the proxy war with Russia in Ukraine, finally some Members are starting to wake up and say “no” to demands for even more. These wars instigated by neocons from both parties always end in disaster, but not until they produce much suffering in the countries they claim to want to liberate. They also further punish the middle and working class while enriching the wealthy and well-connected in the military-industrial complex. The cost of this latest war will be hidden in the cruelest tax – inflation – which disproportionately hurts the poor.

Will a new Speaker of the House solve our problems? No. Our biggest problem is our financial and moral bankruptcy, which has been brewing for over 100 years since the creation of the Fed and the rise of the Progressive era. But finally we see Members responding to rising anger among the electorate over the financing of another forever war – this time with a nuclear superpower! Finally we see Members saying “enough” to demands for even more money for the US empire. It’s a good start and we should do all we can to encourage it.

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