In a slap at Hastert's and Dreier's reform efforts, the Washington Post reports that they are now pulling back from their initial proposal: "'This is something we refer to as a false start,'" a senior aide said, acknowledging that Hastert and other leaders had backed the Republicans into a no-win situation. The leaders can either push forward with a plan most Republicans oppose, or they can scrap it and read that they backed off the toughest reform proposals."
In his debut performance on the Sunday morning talk shows, Boehner totally bombed. NBC Meet The Press host Tim Russert pointed out that Boehner had taken lobbyist-paid travel in excess of $157,000 in recent years to such places as Boca Raton, Florida, Edinburgh, Scotland and Monterrey, California, all popular golfing destinations. Boehner insisted the golfing had nothing to do with it; rather, that is where the sponsoring groups chose to hold their meetings.
Fox News Sunday host, Chris Wallace, asked Boehner how he manages to maintain a permanent tan year-round and if it was because he spent so much time on the golf course. He also asked him about a New York Times description of him:
Easygoing and well liked, with a perpetual tan, a low golf handicap and an ever-present Barclay cigarette between his fingers, Mr. Boehner, 56, looks like a throwback to the 1950's--Dean Martin comes to Congress.
Russert also confronted Boehner with the words of Indiana's Rep. Mark Souder in nominating Rep. John Shadegg for the position Boehner won. Sounder said, "Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, and the ongoing and disgusting saga of abuse of power and public trust are not just made up by the Democrats." Boehner was not moved.
Instead of banning lobbyist-paid travel, Boehner wants members to be required to obtain advance approval from the House Ethics Committee, which totally misses the mark. Boehner, in defending his own travel, said he already seeks an okay from the committee before accepting any privately-funded trips. He also supports more disclosure of lobbyist expenditures on members.
As to those nasty earmarks, Boehner would like to see less of them but is against eliminating them. He prefers more disclosure, or "more transparency" as he likes to call it, in the budget process so members are more fully educated on what they are voting on.
Boehner also told the Washington Post this weekend that he has no intention of implementing new lobbying rules until he can "reach a broad consensus with House Republicans." Well, then he better enjoy being Majority Leader while it lasts, because it won't last for long.