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Karl Rove: Setting The Bar For “Success” Too Low

Karl Rove’s new Wall Street Journal column is all about House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “surprising success” so far in 2011. As Rove sees it, Boehner has had a “remarkable run” by having “out-maneuvered” President Obama repeatedly.

Mr. Boehner may not be an inspiring orator, but he has moved the country and Congress in his direction. He has succeeded in large part because he had a more modest view of the post than his recent predecessors. […]

So Washington’s agenda this fall will reflect the priorities not of the glitzy Mr. Obama but of the modest, well-grounded Mr. Boehner.

Rove’s larger point seems to be that Boehner — or at least Boehner’s caucus — is largely dictating the agenda in Washington, and there’s obviously some truth to that. By refusing to compromise, adopting an unyielding right-wing agenda, and normalizing extortion politics, House Republicans have had considerable success, at least insofar as they’re dictating terms and fighting debates on their turf.

But Rove’s column comes across as kind of silly if one stops to think about the larger context.

For all of Rove’s gushing about the Speaker’s “surprising success,” Boehner’s tenure has been a seven-month-long fiasco. The Speaker has routinely struggled to keep his caucus in line behind his leadership, for example, and has found in many key instances that House Republicans simply don’t care what Boehner thinks. Whereas the Speaker traditionally is one of Washington’s most powerful players, Boehner is arguably the weakest Speaker we’ve seen in many decades — he’s not leading an unruly caucus; his unruly caucus is leading him.

Indeed, Rove seems especially impressed that Boehner has blocked White House attempts at additional revenue. What Rove neglects to mention is that Boehner was fully prepared to make an agreement with Obama for additional revenue, only to find that the Speaker’s caucus would forcefully reject the compromise.

What’s more, looking back at Boehner’s “successes,” it’s hard not to notice that Congress hasn’t passed any meaningful legislation at all this year — and in all likelihood, the Speaker will help oversee a Congress in which nothing of significance passes at all.

What have we seen from Boehner’s chamber since January? Five resignations, zero jobs bills, two near-shutdowns, no major legislative accomplishments, and the first-ever downgrade of U.S. debt, attributed almost entirely to the antics of Boehner’s Republican caucus.

Also note, thanks to Boehner’s sterling work, Congress now has its lowest approval rating in three decades, and Boehner’s personal approval ratings are spiraling in the wrong direction.

If Rove finds this impressive, I’m afraid he’s set the bar for “success” much too low.

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 25, 2011

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Standard and Poor's, Tax Increases, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployed | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Poisonous Radicalization Of The Republican Party

The death this past weekend of former Oregon Gov. and U.S.  Sen. Mark Hatfield, was not just the passing of a good and decent man with a  strong sense of Western independence, but a realization that “this ain’t your  mother’s Republican Party anymore!”

Of course, it hasn’t been for some time. The era of Senators Hatfield  and Mathias and  Percy and Baker and Javits and Case and Brooke and  Scott and Dirksen and so  many others is long gone. The moderates  and  progressives were drummed out or retired long ago and were replaced with Republican conservatives beginning in the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

Even many of the hard liners who were replaced were still  pragmatic conservatives who often worked across the aisle. The Bennetts,  Hatches, Bonds, Grahams and  others are practical, serious conservatives.

But if you look at the collection of candidates for  president, if you look at what just happened with the debt  limit insanity on  the Hill, if you examine the inner workings of the  Republican caucus in the  House, you begin to wonder whether Washington  is governable and whether the  radicalization of the Republican Party is  responsible for this meltdown. Has the Republican Party become an  extreme  Nihilist party?

Let’s look at the current state of politics within the Republican Party.

The upcoming Iowa straw poll and the debate tomorrow night  will  further push the already extreme candidates more to the extremes . There are so many potential  nominees who have not only gone  hard right on the social issues but have decided  that they must call  for abolishing the Departments of Education, Commerce,  Energy,  and even the IRS. They still  oppose the TARP program, which kept the  world from a depression, and they are  proud to reject any form of  additional revenue stream by signing inane pledges  that handcuff  America.

The extreme agenda of cut, cut, cut without regard for the   consequences is backed up by statements that even Pell education grants  for  needy college students are “welfare.”   All the sound and fury  about the debt did not create a single job or  advance economic stability or growth. In  fact, the failure of Speaker John Boehner  and the Tea Party to agree to efforts by  President Obama to reach a $4  trillion grand bargain to right the economic ship  was an example of  radicals’ my-way-or-the-highway approach.

The American people, overwhelmingly, reject this  extremism. They are  fed up with the lack  of progress and the extremism that has become the  modern Republican Party. Their anger is across the board but it is   more heavily directed towards what has become of the Republican  Party—Tea  Party ideologues who lack  common sense and have no desire to  actually solve problems. In the campaign of 2010 the Tea Party was   more or less a Rorschach test, many people saw in it what they wanted.  In April 2010, the strong unfavorable was 18  percent; it has risen to  around 50 percent.

The scary market volatility, the lack of public confidence  in the  economy, and most important, the many Americans who are suffering the   disasters of unemployment and foreclosure should be front and center for   Republicans. Instead, we have a “get  Obama” frenzy and a pull to the  extreme right that precludes progress.

Speaker Boehner, who seemed close to negotiating the grand  bargain  with the president, was pulled back into the extremist fold. He even  said that he got “98 percent of what  I wanted” on the debt deal and  declared himself happy with it!  If he is happy, there aren’t many  Americans  who are there with him.

There are few Republican leaders who recognize that what  they did  with this budget deal led to Americans’ savings and retirements taking  a  severe hit, a downgrade from Standard & Poor’s that will ripple for   years, and a decline in confidence for businesses and consumers.

The old Republican Party wouldn’t have done it; Ronald  Reagan  wouldn’t have done it; even recent conservatives committed to debt   reduction and cutting spending wouldn’t have done it, if they had the  courage  to stand up to the radicals within the Party.

The time for the Republicans to rediscover their pragmatic,   governing side is now. The time to  reject the pledges, the ideological  straitjackets, the wave of Tea Party hysteria  is now. The public is  demanding it and  the country needs it. (And just a bit of  advice from  this Democrat: the overreaching and the extremism won’t win you many  elections either!)

By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, August 10, 2011

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, Education, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Iowa Caucuses, Jobs, Lawmakers, Politics, President Obama, Republicans, Right Wing, Standard and Poor's, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployment, Wall Street | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An American Hijacking: Eric Cantor Acknowledges S&P’s Warnings But Urges Colleagues To Ignore Them

Standard & Poor’s decision to downgrade the United States’ credit rating Friday night came with clear shots at congressional Republicans who had refused to consider tax increases in the deal to raise the debt ceiling. S&P criticized Congress for allowing new revenues to drop from the “menu of policy options,” criticizing “the majority of Republicans in Congress [who] continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” The National Journal proclaimed it “hard to read the S&P analysis as anything other than a blast at Republicans.”

Unlike his party’s presidential candidates and several of his congressional colleagues, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) seems to have heard that blast, as he sent a memo to congressional Republicans today acknowledging S&P’s calls for tax increases. Despite hearing those calls, however, Cantor is urging his colleagues to ignore them:

Over the next several months, there will be tremendous pressure on Congress to prove that S&P’s analysis of the inability of the political parties to bridge our differences is wrong. In short, there will be pressure to compromise on tax increases. We will be told that there is no other way forward. I respectfully disagree.

As we have said from the beginning of the year, the new Republican Majority was elected to change the way Washington does business. We were not elected to raise taxes or take more money out of the pockets of hard working families and business people. People understand Washington can’t keep spending money that it doesn’t have. They want to see less government – not more taxes.

Not only has Cantor chosen to ignore S&P, he has his facts wrong about the American people. Polling conducted by the New York Times and CBS News found last week that half of Americans did, in fact, support the inclusion of new revenues in the debt deal, and numerous polls have shown wide support for ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, a proposal that would reduce the federal deficit by $830 billion over the next decade. S&P today called the full expiration of the Bush tax cuts, which would save $4 trillion in the next decade, one of the major steps in restoring the nation’s AAA credit rating.

Given that S&P downgraded the U.S. in part because of political instability brought on by the GOP taking the economy hostage, Cantor urging his colleagues to ignore the agency’s warning likely won’t help the government’s attempts to avoid yet another downgrade in the future.

By: Travis Waldron, Think Progress, August 8, 2011

August 9, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Consumer Credit, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Democracy, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Standard and Poor's, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Terrorism, Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Boehner Pretends He Isn’t Speaker Of The House

Perhaps my favorite GOP response to the downgrade announcement came from the Speaker of the House.

Said House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio): “Democrats who run Washington remain unwilling to make the tough choices required to put America on solid ground.” He quoted the S&P report as saying that reforming entitlement programs is necessary, but he did not mention its discussion of the potential need for new tax revenue.

This is almost beautiful, in a comedic sort of way.

First, S&P blamed Boehner’s hostage strategy for the downgrade, so Boehner trying to shift the blame elsewhere is cheap and cowardly. Second, Dems were willing to make all kinds of “tough choices,” but found Boehner was too weak to persuade his own caucus to compromise.

But that’s just routine nonsense. What I especially enjoyed is the notion that, from Boehner’s perspective, Democrats “run Washington.”

I’ve noticed the Speaker has referenced that wording a few times recently, so I checked Boehner’s own website to see how many times the Speaker’s office has used the phrase. I found over 3,000 results. For a guy who’s only been Speaker for seven months, it suggests this is a phrase Boehner absolutely loves.

There is, however, one small problem, which Boehner may have lost sight of: he’s the elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was able to become Speaker because Republicans enjoy a House majority.

And if Republicans enjoy a House majority, it necessarily means Democrats don’t “run Washington.”

This need not be complicated. When Boehner goes to work, does he see the Secret Service agents around him? Does he notice where it says “Speaker of the House” above the door he walks through? Does he realize when President Obama negotiates with him, it’s not because the president enjoys Boehner’s company?

Obviously, I get the point of the little rhetorical exercise. Washington is unpopular, so Boehner wants voters to blame the party that “runs” things in DC. But as rhetorical games go, this one is just pathetic, even by GOP standards.

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly- Political Animal, August 8, 2011

August 9, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Crisis, Democracy, Democrats, Elections, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Standard and Poor's, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Voters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Don’t Have A Spending Problem, We Have A Fraud Problem

Conservatives seem to have a knack for changing the subject whenever their backs are up against the wall. Over the last several weeks, there has been an orchestrated chorus  by the House Republicans in particular to define the so-called “deficit problem” in terms of a wild spending binge by the federal government and the Obama administration. They seem to have easily forgotten who got us into this mess in the first place. That aside, everyone from Speaker John Boehner to Sen Mitch McConnell have been bellowing throughout the halls of Congress and at every available microphone that “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem”.

It’s amazing how we all have bought into this line. The media, in its usual rush to get a headline or sound bite, immediately picked up this line and has been the waterboys for the GOP by enabling this hoax on the American people. The focus in most circles has been on spending cuts. Well, we need to re-characterize what is actually going on here. We don’t have a spending problem..we have a fraud problem.

This fraud has been played on the American people by an ideologically depraved Republican party for at least the last ten years. They have made everybody believe that if we just make the wealthy wealthier, somewhere down the road, we will all benefit. There would be job creation with full employment, small businesses would thrive, home prices would fall, gas would cost less than two dollars a gallon and there would be a chicken in every pot. And we believed it hook, line and sinker. Now we are back to square one. None of these things have happened except the fact that we have indeed made the wealthy wealthier. In 2010,  the 400 Americans with the highest adjusted gross revenue incomes averaged $345 million. The average federal income tax was 17%, down from 26% in 1992. The income gap just keeps getting wider. Why  does this continue to happen? Because we let it happen.

Just last week, Standard and Poor’s accentuated the Republican clarion that the sky is falling. This call comes from the same S&P who supported every toxic waste subprime security under the sky, the same S&P  who sold its ratings to the highest bidder. Regulators have also assisted the GOP in their fraud. The Office of the Currency has gone out of its way to protect its clients, ie the banks. Efforts to reign in the banks and stop their predatory loan practices have been foiled at every turn. Even the banks are too big to fail. Profits for banks, corporations, CEO’s, Wall St and the wealthy just keep soaring. There is a lot of back scratching going on here, by and for a lot of wealthy people.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, all of these wealthy people are trying to figure out a way to take the spot light off themselves. They are beginning to see that they may not be able to stave off demands any longer that they pay their fare share. People who have been adversely affected for so many years are now demanding that this fraud be stopped. Teachers and other low wage earners, the poor, seniors, students and union members have all come to believe that they have sacrificed enough. Even some tea party members are beginning to see the light.

For too many years, the Republicans and their wealthy friends have had their hands in everybody’s pockets. Your pocket was the revenue stream for them. General Electric and the Koch Brothers were probably happier than anyone. The Republicans were also happy because their happy friends provided the cover that allows them to do whatever they want to in terms of policy. Being the ideologues that they are, this protection gives them unimpeded opportunity to push forward with their agenda, from dissolving women’s rights, overturning the Affordable Care Act, union busting, replacing Medicare with vouchers and completely eliminating any sense of environmental protection just to name a few. With happy and contented wealthy backers behind you for so many years, how could you go wrong. My, how things are changing.

The revenue stream that the Republicans have depended on for so long is now drying up…that stream is you. They are finding that when they put their hands in your pockets now, they are feeling the seam of the sewn pocket. There just isn’t any more money there. They become flushed and filled with extreme panic, finally realizing that they are going to have their taxes raised after all these years. Their backs are against the wall. So what do they do now? Change the debate..”Let’s raise taxes on everybody”. Nice try!

It’s well past time that shared sacrifice mean exactly what it says. It is no longer acceptable that the poor, under privileged, seniors and the disenfranchised continue to carry the load for corporations, Wall St and their deadbeat tax-evading friends. No, let’s not raise taxes on everybody. Let’s end the fraud and insist that the wealthy start paying taxes just like everyone else. This being Easter Sunday, this may be a good symbolic time to increase taxes only for the rich. We should leave that rate in place for oh say, the next 40 years. Besides, they have accumulated a fair amount of wealth over the years and should easily be able to live off that profit during that time. Perhaps take a trip or two or just wander around the world enjoying their spoils. We will pledge to re-visit this issue after that time. If, and only if,  the middle class has reached a level playing field, then we can talk about lowering the tax rate for the wealthy. I think Moses and the Pharaoh’s would be happy with this compromise.  So it is written, so let it be done.

By: raemd95, mykeystrokes.com, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Banks, Businesses, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Consumers, Corporations, Deficits, Democracy, Economy, Equal Rights, Federal Budget, Foreclosures, General Electric, GOP, Government, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Income Gap, Jobs, Journalists, Koch Brothers, Labor, Lawmakers, Medicare, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Press, Public, Pundits, Regulations, Republicans, Right Wing, Standard and Poor's, Tax Increases, Taxes, Tea Party, Unemployed, Unions, Wall Street, Wealthy, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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