Not this year. This year, a cabal of obstructionists calling themselves the Freedom Caucus decided they didn’t like the budget. It spent too much money, they said. This cabal is comprised of legislators who are still angry that their leader, Bill O’Brien was defeated in his second bid to become Speaker, after what was widely acknowledged as a disastrous first term in that position. Even though O’Brien is no longer part of the legislature, he’s driving this bozo bus. This is the same O’Brien who, in 2013, gave a floor speech congratulating the House on the passage of what he called, “An O’Brien budget.” Minutes before, he’d actually voted against it.
The Freedumb caucus is comprised of the same guys who want to make changes to the SNAP program that will cost the state more to administer, while saving no money, so you know they have the best interests of taxpayers at heart. These are the same guys who have been obstructing and delaying at every opportunity since 2013.They’re libertarians, Free Staters, and Tea Partiers, puffed up with manly pride that they’ve made a stand against Big Gummint Spending!
They refused to vote for the budget. The Democrats refused to vote for it, too, but not for the same reasons. The Democrats had some very modest (timid) additions they wanted to see added in. They offered to work out a compromise with Speaker Shawn Jasper, who rebuffed them half a dozen times. Apparently he was unable to make a deal with the Freedumb caucus, even after he brought the governor in to yell at them, and so, for the first time ever, the House failed to send a budget to the Senate. This means that when the Senate comes up with a budget, the House will have no bargaining chips in the Committee of Conference. The one thing we can be sure of is that there won’t be enough money in this budget to run this state like a business, which is often presented as a goal. The GOP should be incredibly embarrassed by this failure, yet none are brave enough to speak against the hostage taking actions by the O’Brienistas.
Obstruction is easy. The GOP has been specializing in it since 2009 when Obama took office. On the local level, we’ve had a Democrat in the corner office since one-term Republican Governor Craig Benson. As long as a Democrat held the executive power, the libertea branch of the GOP was free to obstruct anything and everything – and they certainly did, often just for the sake of doing it. With a Republican majority, there’s no one left for them to obstruct except each other.
Passing ideological legislation is not governing. It’s easy when you have the majority. What is increasingly beyond the ability of the Republican Party is compromise, as this group illustrates so perfectly. Unless they get their way, they’re going to stomp their big boy feet and no one will get to use the playground swings.
As I’ve said before, this is what you get when you elect people who hate government to be the government.
Then ask your other Republican representatives why they are silent. Ask them why you should keep voting for them, when party loyalty means more to them than their role as an elected representative of the people. Finally, ask them if they are a little ashamed that their party has been taken over by tantrum throwing toddlers.
Obstruction is easy. Governing is hard.
From the NH Legislative Handbook:
Members should at all times conduct themselves in a way that exhibits the utmost respect for their elected office, their constituents and the people of the State of New Hampshire.
published as an op-ed in the April 14 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper