Mike Needham ’04 is glad that Speaker Boehner is stepping down.

Those within Speaker Boehner’s tight-knit circle will point to the “accomplishments” of the past nine months as reasons why he’ll be missed. But take a look what the House has done this year and it’s not hard to understand conservatives’ frustrations with the Speaker’s leadership: a permanent “doc fix” that increases Medicare spending over the next two decades by $500 billion and took crucial leverage for Medicare reform off the table forever; a House-passed reauthorization of No Child Left Behind despite the objections of conservatives advocating reforms to eliminate Department of Education mandates. Not a single Republican ran on these priorities in 2014, yet aside from small-ball bills addressing business community concerns like authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, they’ve been the central pillars of the Republican agenda.

But it could have been worse. Despite his best efforts, the Speaker wasn’t able to roll conservatives on some of his biggest priorities. For years, he hoped to cut a “grand bargain,” trading spending cuts for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases. Conservatives would not let him, and pressure from the grassroots forced the House instead to work toward the 2011 Budget Control Act, a package of cuts-only reforms that the Speaker has only tried to undermine ever since. And on comprehensive immigration reform—code-talk for amnesty—the Speaker never hid his views: “I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue. And I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground.” As recently as last September, Speaker Boehner told Hugh Hewitt that he was trying to “create an environment where you could do immigration reform in a responsible way next year.” It’s taken years of dedicated opposition by conservatives to prevent the Speaker’s push for amnesty from coming to fruition.

If you want to increase the income of the bottom 20% of current US citizens, the most important public policy is a decrease in unskilled immigration, both legal and illegal.

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