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House GOP leadership is a ballooning problem

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Republican ennui is engulfing the grass roots as the party’s House majority sits, and sits, and sits, doing nothing except raising money and, yes, taking action to secure the country’s helium reserve.

The Balloon Council applauded the latter action. Yes, the council exists, and it says it represents 100,000 balloon-connected manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Perhaps the medical device industry or the families of the dead at Benghazi ought to appeal to the Balloon Council for help, as the GOP leadership has no interest in either the repeal of the job-destroying medical device tax of 2.3 percent on all sales revenue or a Select Committee to bring much needed focus on and thus the media’s attention to the Obama administration’s cover-up of the Benghazi slaughter.

On the second subject, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told my audience this week that the special committee was being blocked by turf-conscious House Committee chairmen.

On the first subject, Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told my listeners that a medical device tax would in fact pass the Senate without being hijacked by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., for the duplicitous purposes, the prospect of which has allegedly paralyzed the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.

Presiding over this era of “splendid inactivity” among House Republicans is Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a prodigious fundraiser whose goal to be the anti-Pelosi is coming to flower.

He commands no chair to act opposite of their whims and ruffles no feathers among the senior elite of the House GOP. Below him, Politico reports, his lieutenants are squabbling, with House GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reportedly storming out of a meeting with GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Over at, there are some very handy “Smart Balloon Practices,” which include “Keep balloons secured to a weight,” “Do not release foil balloons into the air,” and “Keep deflated or popped latex balloons away from small children to avoid risks of choking.”

The pundit class may simply be missing the sort of robust simplicity that powers such guidance and which, coupled with the Balloon Council’s legislative triumph, commands respect and indeed imitation.

Hence, “Smart House Majority Tips:”

* Use the majority.

* Investigate executive branch haplessness that results in the death of Americans and do so in a way that attracts the attention of the media.

* Repeal bad taxes which the Senate is willing to repeal.

Oh, there is higher-level strategy as well. California is, for example, about to launch a nightmare called its “green chemistry” rules, which the automobile industry and the United Auto Workers are actually cooperating to try and stop via a state legislative carve-out.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee might see an opening in these circumstances to pass some pre-emption rules that keep crazy states like California from destroying national industries like auto manufacturing via their own regulatory flights of fancy, and in the process split some of the old-line unions away from the new powers of government-unions protecting government regulatory turf.

That, though, is second-order thinking, like the amendment strategy needed in the Senate to keep immigration reform from becoming the killing fields of GOP presidential ambitions for decades to come.

In the House, an increasingly frustrated rank-and-file will take anything that looks like action and dress it up, so desperate are they for anything resembling an offensive against the exhausted and befuddled president.

Right now, though, it’s a “phony war” between the Beltway parties, a great game of see-and-(fund)raise.

A majority is a terrible thing to waste, but wasted it has been thus far. And this is May. Imagine the lethargy index come August.

Washington Examiner Columnist Hugh Hewitt is a law professor at Chapman University Law School and a nationally syndicated radio talk show host who blogs daily at


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