House Republicans elected John Boehner of Ohio to serve as the majority leader today. He narrowly defeated Roy Blunt, a Missouri congressman. Boehner, who is from the Cincinnati area, succeeds Tom DeLay, the Houston representative who is currently facing a number of legal troubles, which he insists are politically motivated.
Like DeLay, who founded and ran an extermination business in Texas, Boehner is a one-time entrepreneur. According to his official biography, Boehner in 1977 joined a small plastics sales company called Nucite Sales. He was promoted up the ladder and eventually became president of the company. He was elected to Congress in 1990, and most recently has served as the chair of the Education and Workforce Committee.
In June, the Cincinnati Post reported that, thanks to his Nucite holdings, Boehner was the wealthiest member of Congress from the metropolitan area. The paper reported:
"Boehner's major assets include the Nucite Sales Pension Plan Trust and the Nucite Sales Profit Sharing Trust.
His interest in the two trusts is valued at $500,001 to $1 million apiece.
In addition, Boehner reported receiving up to $15,000 in dividends from the company and up to $50,000 in rent from an office building in West Chester.
Lawmakers are not required to report the exact value of their assets, but instead list the value in various reporting ranges."
Like most entrepreneurs elected to Congress, Boehner has not been particularly active on issues that are near and dear to small companies, although he has generally supported the entrepreneurial view that taxes should be cut and government regulation should be curbed. One business issue the new leader has been active on is health care. On his website, he writes: "Innovative proposals like association health plans and health care tax credits for employers... will assist us in solving the 'uninsured problem.' Let me be clear: more federal mandates are not the answer. Real health care reform means crafting policy that will improve quality, choice, and accessibility for all Ohioans and all Americans. "
Now that he holds the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives, it will be interesting to see what Boehner's priorities are . In the past, he has proven eager to reform Congress. Soon after he was first elected, he helped to expose the House banking scandal, which revealed that many members were essentially writing bad checks. With lobbying reform gaining steam on Capital Hill, Boehner may be tempted to dive into that. But there are plenty of other issues out there that he could work on, and that could have a more long-lasting and significant impact on the economy.