Politics has always been a messy business because that is the essence of compromise. Nothing is pristine. Unfortunately, no matter what you think of House Speaker John Boehner, his resignation is only likely to make the political process in Washington even more unsightly, and entrepreneurs will find themselves smack in the middle of the discord.
The problem is that, increasingly, more conservative factions among Republicans have pushed the party to ever greater brinksmanship in an attempt to gain policy goals. Boehner is stepping down because of the cumulative pressure from parts of his party to take consistently hard lines on almost everything. And when everything becomes a place to dig in your heels, the playing field becomes a rutted plane. Consider the closing of the Export-Import Bank.
Ideology has been put before pragmatism.
The self-funding agency provided loans to both large and small companies to help them finance international exports. Both the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, two entities often at odds, pointed to the value the Bank played in helping smaller businesses expand and growing domestic jobs. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House Majority Leader, said that he wanted to close the 80-year-old institution because the private sector should be able to do that by itself.
The problem is that private-sector banks make financing more expensive because they need profits, if they even extend credit to small companies. It was a matter of ideology, of not having government do something that private industry can do, except that sometimes there is a role for government. In this case, the role was one that, arguably, improved the economy and ultimately didn't cost taxpayers a dime.
Boehner's most recent struggle has been trying to craft a deal that would fund the government through the end of the year. Some conservative factions are insisting that any bill defund Planned Parenthood, and they are apparently ready to let the government close rather than work out a compromise. Perhaps that is the straw that has broken Boehner's political back.
If this had been a singular threat, even those of a different mind toward the organization might have at least understood how some could feel so strongly. However, we've now seen the government either shut down or come alarmingly close on multiple occasions. A shutdown has serious implications for businesses of any size. Divots on the field increasingly cause the entire system on which business depends to go sprawling.
The incoming speaker will have less latitude.
Right now the most likely next speaker is McCarthy, though some conservative Republicans find even him unacceptably compromising, depite his antagonism toward the Export-Import Bank. In short, the more radical factions of the party have won. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in response to Boehner's resignation, the Tea Party has "taken over control of the party."
Without action on the part of the House, virtually nothing can happen in government, and the atmosphere is such that political leaders in that body are even less likely than before to be able to reach negotiated deals. The chance that the House will become a more pragmatic entity with an eye to ensuring smooth operations of the country and the economy has dramatically lessened. Entrepreneurs, executives, and others in business can only prudently expect further disruption and plan accordingly.
So much for an economic recovery.