Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) published a joint op-ed in the Wall Street Journal the other day, calling for new measures to make the legislative process more difficult. No, seriously, that’s what they said.
For two years in a row, the Democratic-led Senate has failed to adopt a budget as required by law. Meanwhile, our gross national debt has climbed to almost $15 trillion — as large as our entire economy. Our bill puts in place a 60-vote threshold before any appropriation bill can be moved through Congress — unless both houses have adopted a binding budget resolution.
We can certainly have a conversation about the breakdown in the budget-writing process, but let’s think about what Snowe and Sessions are proposing here: they want to make it harder for Congress to approve appropriations bills, regardless of the consequences.
Jamison Foser explained, “Republicans, including Sessions and Snowe, have filibustered even the most uncontroversial of measures — and that knee-jerk opposition to just about anything the Senate majority wants to do is a significant part of the reason why the Senate hasn’t adopted a budget. Now Sessions and Snowe cynically use that failure to justify structural changes that would make it harder for the Senate to pass any appropriations bills.”
Snowe and Sessions went on to call for additional “reforms” that would make it far more difficult for Congress to approve “emergency” spending without mandatory supermajorities, too, because they’re horrified by efforts to “spend money we don’t have,” which might “bankrupt the country.”
Of course, Snowe and Sessions see no need for mandatory supermajorities when it comes to tax cuts, alleged “bankruptcy” fears notwithstanding.
But in the larger picture, have you noticed just how far Olympia Snowe has fallen lately? Last week she demanded the administration act with “urgency” to address the jobs crisis, only to filibuster a popular jobs bill just one day later. A week earlier, Snowe prioritized tax cuts for millionaires over job creation. Just a couple of weeks earlier, Snowe tried to argue that government spending is “clearly … the problem” when it comes to the nation’s finances, which is a popular line among conservatives, despite being wrong.
It’s tempting to think the fear of a primary challenge is pushing Snowe to the far-right, but the truth is, the senator’s GOP opponents next year are barely even trying. She may fear a replay of the Castle-O’Donnell fight that played out in Delaware, but all indications are that Snowe really doesn’t have anything to worry about.
And yet, she’s become a shell of her former self, leading to this op-ed — written with a right-wing Alabama senator, no less — demanding that the dysfunctional Senate adopt new ideas that make it more difficult to pass necessary legislation.
There is some prime real estate in the political landscape for genuine GOP moderates who could have a significant impact. Instead, Congress has Olympia Snowe, who now bears no resemblance to the centrist she used to be.
If I had to guess, I’d say most mainstream voters in Maine have no idea of the extent to which Snowe has moved to the right, which is a shame. I wonder how those who supported her in the past would even recognize her anymore.
By: Steve Benen, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 25, 2011
What a wonderful world! My daughter brought me a satellite radio for my birthday and I have been listening to the classic hits of the’50s. I call the station “50s on the Five for 50-Somethings.” Unfortunately every time I hear the classic 1950s song “What a Wonderful World” by the great Sam Cooke, I think of Michele Bachmann. Why? Because of the opening words, “Don’t’ know much about history. Don’t know much biology.”
Earlier this year, Bachmann said that the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which started the Revolutionary War, were fought in New Hampshire when every school kid knows the battles were fought in Massachusetts. Any day, I expect her to say that Kaiser Willy should have been tried for war crimes for starting World War II.
Earlier this year, the conservative congresswoman described homosexuality as “sexual dysfunction.” She may be surprised to know that the American Medical Association doesn’t list homosexuality as a sexual dysfunction. Representative Bachmann has promised to release her healthcare proposal to the public shortly. Her husband tries to convince gays that they are straight and my guess is her solution to the healthcare crisis will be to convince the sick and injured that they’re felling just fine.
I would add meteorology to biology and history on the list of things she doesn’t know much about. She said that hurricane Irene was a warning to politicians to reduce government spending. Her spokesperson said the candidate made the statement “in jest”. The congresswoman has a sick sense of humor. I don’t think a joke about a disaster that killed dozens of people and caused billion of dollars in damage is very funny. I wonder what other kinds of disasters Representative Bachmann thinks are funny.
The congresswoman from Minnesota is chair of the Tea Party Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and her statements make her perfect for the job. The Tea Party has a new motto, “Just Say It,” which is why a recent New York Times/CBS News national survey shows the group’s negative has doubled from 18 percent to 40 percent in the last year. The nominee of the Party of Tea, the party formerly known as the GOP will drown with the weight of the Tea Party brand wrapped around him or her like an anchor.
Ever wonder why Americans dislike the Tea Party? Wonder no more. At a recent presidential campaign rally last week in Iowa, Robin Murphy of West Des Moines, Iowa, told Representative Bachmann. “I don’t like what I see in Obama—him being born in Kenya and trying to cover up the birth certificate thing. And him being Muslim and trying to pretend he’s a Christian.”
As she held Ms. Murphy’s hand, Representative Bachmann made no effort to correct the misstatements that the Iowan made about the president. The Minnesotan could have responded to her supporter with a criticism of the president for his economic policies but also reminded her that the president was born in Hawaii and is a Christian. But Representative Bachmann didn’t. If ignorance is bliss, Tea Partyers must be ecstatic.
I lost electricity, Internet, and phones for a day and a half in the aftermath of Irene. It was actually pleasant to be out of touch with the rest of the world for awhile. I knew what it was like being a member of the Tea Party.
Robin Murphy’s statements sound sweet to Tea Partyers and religious conservatives but they taste sour to the independent suburban voters who are sick of right wing rhetoric. As long as Congresswoman Bachmann and her supporters lie about the president’s background, they won’t get any play from the moderate swing voters who will choose the next president in November of 2012. I doubt Tea Partyers will change their rhetoric though because they live in a wonderful world all their own.
By: Brad Bannon, U. S. News and World Report, September 1, 2011
Joshua Green of The Atlantic is reporting that Rep. Michelle Bachmann has long belonged to a church that, well, has some odd views about the Catholic Church:
Michele Bachmann is practically synonymous with political controversy, and if the 2008 presidential election is any guide, the conservative Lutheran church she belonged to for many years is likely to add another chapter due to the nature of its beliefs–such as its assertion, explained and footnoted on this website, that the Roman Catholic Pope is the Antichrist.
The short, obvious response to the idea that this might hurt Bachmann’s presidential aspirations is, in a few words, “Reverend Jeremiah Wright.”
After all, President Barack Obama’s ties to Reverend Wright and his church didn’t hurt his presidential campaign nearly as much as expected — as he went on to win. Even in 2008, the idea that Obama was a covert black radical hiding behind a moderate liberal façade seemed far fetched. There was little connection between Wright’s views and Obama’s actual policy agenda.
This could, however, create problems for Bachmann. After all, unlike Obama, Bachmann has placed her religious views front and center in the campaign, most recently by signing onto a “pledge” issued by a group of social conservatives in Iowa affirming a number of paternalistic policy positions. In signing the pledge, Bachmann was promising to fight marriage equality, pornography, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and even the presence of women in the Armed Forces. Bachmann’s religious views, unlike Obama’s, are easily connectable to a definable policy agenda. So her religious views will be far more relevant than Obama’s — and many of the policy positions she’s adopted as a result aren’t likely to be popular outside of the GOP base.
George W. Bush frequently credited Karl Rove’s outreach to Catholics as key to his ascension to the White House. Has Bachmann — who left her former church last year and disavowed its views on Catholicism — damaged herself with this key segment of the electorate? That’s anybody’s guess. But generally speaking, some of her religiously informed political views will be a major liability among the broader electorate, should she win the nomination, and may even discourage Republicans who want to win the White House from voting for her. The more stories like this one expose the extent to which some of Bachmann’s religious views smack of bigotry, the worse her chances will get.
By: Adam Serwer, The Washington Post, July 14, 2011
Once upon a time the Republican Party included a few widely-respected leaders who valued reason and flexibility — names like Eisenhower, Javitz, Weicker and a few others come to mind. Hell, Nixon was a paragon of sanity compared to some of the loons running the GOP asylum now. if this sounds overstated, read Richard Cohen’s Sunday WaPo column “A Grand Old Cult,” in which he explains:
To become a Republican, one has to take a pledge. It is not enough to support the party or mouth banalities about Ronald Reagan; one has to promise not to give the government another nickel. This is called the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” issued by Americans for Tax Reform, an organization headed by the chirpy Grover Norquist. He once labeled the argument that an estate tax would affect only the very rich “the morality of the Holocaust.” Anyone can see how singling out the filthy rich and the immensely powerful and asking them to ante up is pretty much the same as Auschwitz and that sort of thing….Almost all the GOP’s presidential candidates have taken this oath, swearing before God and Grover Norquist to cease thinking on their own, never to exercise independent judgment and, if necessary, to destroy the credit of the United States, raise the cost of borrowing and put the government deeper into the hole.
Cohen notes the role of revisionist history and denial in the Republicans’ increasingly unhinged worldview:
…The hallmark of a cult is to replace reason with feverish belief. This the GOP has done when it comes to the government’s ability to stimulate the economy. History proves this works — it’s how the Great Depression ended — but Republicans will not acknowledge it.The Depression in fact deepened in 1937 when Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to balance the budget and was ended entirely by World War II, which, besides being a noble cause, was also a huge stimulus program. Here, though, is Sen. Richard Shelby mouthing GOP dogma: Stimulus programs “did not bring us out of the Depression,” he recently told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, but “the war did.” In other words, a really huge stimulus program hugely worked. Might not a more modest one succeed modestly? Shelby ought to follow his own logic.
‘Logic’ may not be the best word to describe GOP thinking in the second decade of the 21st century. Cohen notes a similar pattern of denial with respect to Republican policies on abortion and global warning, and adds,
…Independent thinkers, stop right here! If you believe in global warming, revenue enhancement, stimulus programs, the occasional need for abortion or even the fabulist theories of the late Charles Darwin, then either stay home — or lie.This intellectual rigidity has produced a GOP presidential field that’s a virtual political Jonestown. The Grand Old Party, so named when it really did evoke America, has so narrowed its base that it has become a political cult. It is a redoubt of certainty over reason and in itself significantly responsible for the government deficit that matters most: leadership. That we can’t borrow from China.
The problem for Democrats is that, when Republicans become irrational proponents of discredited ideas and failed polices, there is not much incentive for Dems to up their game. Dems are not being challenged to respond to good arguments so much as tantrums by intellectually-constipated ideologues. The public gets cheated out of an enlightening debate and everybody loses.
What puzzles is why all of the Republicans have guzzled the Koolaid. Why hasn’t it dawned on the party’s brighter bulbs, perhaps Senator Lugar or, maybe Scott Brown or Huntsman that “Hmm, I could really separate myself from the pack of idjits by taking things to a more rational level”? All indications are that the public would like to see a little more flexibility from Republicans.
There may well come a point when the Republicans’ impressive party discipline starts to look like pointless obstructionism to swing voters. The public can see that, so far only one party is compromising. If sanity prevails, the Republicans’ unspoken meme that “we’re 100 percent right, and they’re 100 percent wrong, so we won’t give an inch” can’t play much longer without diminishing returns.
By: J. P. Green, The Democratic Strategist, July 5, 2011