A scant few months after the Paul Ryan budget redefined the boundaries of conservative fanaticism, the Republican Party’s new “Cut, Cap, and Balance” Constitutional Amendment makes that document seem quaintly reasonable. Ezra Klein sums up the policy:
Ronald Reagan’s entire presidency would’ve been unconstitutional under CC&B. Same for George W. Bush’s. Paul Ryan’s budget wouldn’t pass muster. The only budget that might work for this policy — if you could implement it — would be the proposal produced by the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee. But that proposal was so extreme and unworkable that a majority of Republicans voted it down.
37 House Republicans and 12 Senate Republicans have pledged not to support a debt ceiling increase unless the CC&B Constitutional Amendment passes. Mitt Romney has signed this insane pledge. Ramesh Ponnuru has some gentle questions:
Representative Mick Mulvaney, a freshman Republican from South Carolina who is a leading supporter of the amendment, said in an interview that if “the president wants this debt-ceiling increase, he’s going to help us get the votes.” He argued that Obama should deliver 50 Democratic votes in the House and 20 to 30 in the Senate. “That’s a good compromise for both sides.”
Does the congressman think that 50 Republicans would vote for a constitutional amendment that contradicts everything they stand for if President Romney asked them to?
What a congressman who pledges to increase the debt limit only if a spending-limit amendment passes is really saying is that he opposes increasing the debt limit. Because there is no way that two-thirds of Congress is going to pass this amendment now, or ever.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the CC&B amendment is the casual way in which it attempts to enshrine specific spending levels and to freeze current taxes into the Constitution. I would like to see its advocates explain why it is necessary for the Constitution to require their agenda. What is keeping the public from electing officials who will enact this agenda? If people want to enact policies like this, why not just let them do it? And if they don’t, why force these policies upon them?
By: Jonathan Chait, The New Republic, July 19, 2011
Why do the Tea Party and the right adamantly oppose Mitch McConnell’s proposal to transfer control of the debt ceiling to the president as a way out of an impasse that many think is badly damaging the GOP?
The answer, paradoxically, lies in the beauty of the McConnell plan: It was crafted to allow Republicans to repeatedly vote against raising the debt ceiling without actually stopping it from being raised.
McConnell and other GOP leaders know full well the debt ceiling must be hiked. But they also know full well that this is entirely unacceptable to large swaths of the base who now see this as their number one ideological cause celebre, on a par with the now-forgotten drive to repeal Obamacare. So his plan tries to solve both these problems at once. It provides for Republicans to vote to “disapprove” of each debt ceiling hike the President pursues. But since they need a veto proof majority to block each debt limit hike, those “disapproval” votes won’t actually stop the hikes from happening — keeping the business community happy and averting economic and political disaster.
The problem for GOP leaders, however, is that the Tea Party and the right are dead serious about this stopping-the-debt-ceiling-hike thing — reality and the consequences be damned. Solid majorities of Republican voters and Tea Partyers don’t even think failure to raise it will be a problem. Symbolic votes to “disapprove” of debt ceiling hikes aren’t enough. Anything short of stopping the debt ceiling from going up is unacceptable. The McConnell plan would surrender the GOP’s ability to do this. Therefore it’s a total cave-in.
Business leaders and sane GOP leaders want the debt ceiling raised and understand that failure will be catastrophic. The Tea Party wants a hike blocked at all costs. The problem in a nutshell is that there’s no putting that ideological genie back in the bottle. One party is going to have to walk out of this situation not getting what it wants. Hint: That party’s name begins with the letter “T.”
By: Greg Sargent, The Washington Post Plum Line, July 19, 2011
Wisconsin Democrats have now won a round in the state Senate recalls, with Dem incumbent state Sen. Dave Hansen easily winning against a politically weak and seemingly troubled challenger, GOP activist and recall organizer David VanderLeest.
With 65% percent of precincts reporting, Hansen is winning by 69%-31%, and has been projected as the winner by the Associated Press.
In two other races, where Republican primaries were being held, the votes are still being counted to determine who will face Democratic state Sens. Robert Wirch and Jim Holperin.
This leaves eight races to go. On August 9, general elections will be held in six races targeting incumbent Republicans. Then on August 16, two more races will be held targeting incumbent Democrats. Republicans currently control the chamber by a majority of 19-14. Democrats hope to gain a net three seats and win a majority in a backlash against GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-public employee union legislation. In other words, control of the chamber is up for grabs.
This particular result was not in much doubt — due to the fact that VanderLeest has been plagued by questions about his fitness for office, after revelations about his personal finances and reports of domestic violence (which included a plea of no-contest to two charges of disorderly conduct).
As the election headed into its home stretch, VanderLeest made such statements as, “None of it’s true. I don’t smoke rocks, and that’s the truth,” and threatened to sue Hansen and various Democratic groups for slander. (He also claimed to have learned that there was an investigation against these groups for racketeering. The source: A complaint filed by a supporter close to his campaign.)
To be clear, VanderLeest was not the GOP’s preferred candidate. Instead, Republicans became stuck with VanderLeest after their originally recruited candidate, state Rep. John Nygren, failed to submit the required 400 valid petition signatures. Nygren submitted slightly over 400 signatures for himself — despite the fact that Republicans had been able to gather 18,000 signatures to trigger a recall — with not enough of a buffer for when a few them were disqualified. Nygren initially filed a lawsuit to get onto the ballot, but lost in court and announced he would not further appeal the decision.
In last week’s Democratic primaries, for races targeting six incumbent Republicans, the official Democratic candidates all won against fake Dem candidates — who were in fact Republican activists planted in the races by the state GOP in order to delay the general elections.
By: Eric Kleefield, Talking Points Memo, July 19, 2011