Ups and Downs for the Week of January 30

This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys", February 4, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Let’s check out our ups and downs.

UP: Republican Congressman John Boehner. He won the hotly contested race to replace Tom DeLay as House majority leader, beating Congressman Roy Blunt, who was favored to win the race.

Here’s Boehner Friday, one day after his election.


U.S. REPRESENTATIVE JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), MAJORITY LEADER: And while yesterday was exciting and euphoric, today the real work begins. And I think that what we’re trying to do as a leadership team is to strengthen our team, refocus our efforts on the issues that the American people care about.


KONDRACKE: Well, Boehner’s election was evidence that the Republicans in the House are scared to death that they are going to lose their majority in the 2006 election. They wanted a new face to replace not the whole, but Tom DeLay’s team at the top. Roy Blunt is still the majority whip, and he can still count the votes and cajole people into voting the way they want them to.

But the question is, can Boehner fashion an agenda, a coherent agenda, and get it passed? You know, it was tough for Blunt, and it’s going to be tough for Boehner.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Well, Blunt had a pretty good record of, you know, winning by a vote or two.

KONDRACKE: Yes, yes.

BARNES: Look, I don’t think the agenda has to be coherent, but it does have to have that it, you know, making the tax cuts permanent, an immigration bill that doesn’t just enforce border security, but also finds new ways to allow immigrants to come in legally.

Health care initiatives, I hope those pass. And obviously, the competitiveness agenda is something that is really important. Look, I’m for it, I think it’s a good idea. All right.

UP: New Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. He’s got big shoes to fill, but investors are hoping Bernanke will be a steady hand at the central bank, and I think he will. Look, no leader is indispensable, even if he or she thinks that they’re indispensable.

As secretary of state, was Henry Kissinger indispensable? I don’t think so. As majority leader, was Trent Lott indispensable? Turned out he wasn’t. Alan Greenspan at the Fed is not indispensable either, given even what a great job he did for, what, 18 1/2 years, is that what it was?

KONDRACKE: Yes, yes, yes.

BARNES: I have met and talked to Ben Bernanke. He is an expert in monetary policy. And, of course, that’s what the Federal Reserve does, monetary policy. He knows what he has to produce, and that’s steady prices or stable prices, which means slow inflation. And I think he can do it.

KONDRACKE: Yes, but this is the Washington equivalent of replacing Sean Connery as 007, you know. And the guy who tried to do that with George Lazenby, you know...


KONDRACKE: And because Alan Greenspan is a kind of economic icon, you know, and he’s sort of the magician of prosperity. And, you know, the economy is basically good, and it, and Bernanke should do fine. But there are problems. You know, like the fact that we spend more than we earn, and we’re running out of home equity, and foreigners own lots of dollars because we don’t produce, we have budget deficits and trade deficits.

So he’s got his, he’s got problems.

DOWN: Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean. Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are hopping mad about Dean for his fiscal mismanagement at the DNC. It seems that Dean has spent nearly all the committee’s cash going into the midterm election.

The DNC has reported raising $51 million in 2005, but it only has $5.9 million in the bank. The Republican National Committee, on the other hand, raised over $105 million with $34 million in the bank.

BARNES: Would you run down those numbers for me again?


KONDRACKE: The good news for the Democrats is that the Senate and House Congressional Committees are doing pretty well. Rahm Emanuel, who’s the head of the Democratic Congressional Committee, has $13 million to spend. The Republicans have 19. And over on the Senate side, Chuck Schumer has $25 million, and Elizabeth Dole, for the Republican Senatorial Committee, only has 10.

BARNES: Mort, that’s one of the finest green eyeshade campaign finance rundowns I’ve ever heard.

But that’s not the big problem with Howard Dean. The big problem with Howard Dean is, he is a specialist in subtraction. I mean, when you just see him on TV, I mean, he’s a disaster, all the stuff he says. He’s shrinking the Democratic Party, not expanding it.

And that is not the way to go.

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