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“What The Republicans Failed To Accomplish”: Vital Tasks The House Did Not Address Before Taking An Unnecessary Recess

Many House members were at the airport yesterday, desperate to begin their five-week vacation, when the chamber’s leadership called them back. An emergency bill to provide money for the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border had earlier been pulled from the floor because of objections from the hard right; now some Republicans wanted to try again.

“You can’t go home!” Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas said, according to the Washington Post. That would send a terrible message to President Obama: “You’re right, we’re a do-nothing Congress.”

Sorry, congressman. That message had already been broadcast long before the House tripped over its own divisions on the border bill. The failure of this Congress (principally the House) to perform the most basic tasks of governing is breathtakingly broad. Though members did manage to pass a bill overhauling the Department of Veterans Affairs, here is a catalog of the vital tasks the House was unable to accomplish before taking an unnecessary recess:

But there is one thing House Republicans did enthusiastically before packing their bags: They voted to sue the president for taking executive actions they disliked — actions that were necessary because Republicans failed to do their jobs.

 

By: David Firestone, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editors Blog, The New York Times, August 1, 2014

August 2, 2014 Posted by | Congress, House Republicans | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Got To Have One”: Impeachment Is The Right’s New Lost Cause

Sometimes politics is like high-stakes poker. If you look around the table after a few hands and you can’t tell who’s the pigeon, citizen, chances are it’s you: the guy who plunked down $26.95 for a book called Impeachable Offenses: The Case for Removing Barack Obama from Office.

Yeah, you with the “Impeach Obama” bumpersticker on your car. The guy standing on a freeway overpass waving a “Honk for Impeachment” sign. You may as well go around in a little bird’s nest hat, like Donald Duck’s eccentric friend Gyro Gearloose.

Because it not only ain’t going to happen, but the people peddling this nonsense don’t even want it to happen. Not really. They’re just making a buck off people who can’t count and running a classic misdirection play.

It’s actually a good sign if you think about it.

Basically because the more Republicans you hear talking about impeachment, the closer the party has come to surrender on the big issues they claim to care about.

Like it or not, the possibility of repealing “Obamacare” ended when the Supreme Court found it Constitutional and the president won re-election. You’d think after 40 — count ’em, 40 — fruitless votes to abort the law, that message might start to sink in. We still have majority rule in this country.

But no, it hasn’t sunk in at all. Like a baseball team demanding to play the eighth game of the World Series, GOP hardliners have come up with yet another plan to force the president’s hand. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has called for something he infelicitously called a “grassroots tsunami” to make Obama relent. More rationally consequent party leaders, however, are fearful of the terrible consequences of shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt in a vain attempt to kill the Affordable Care Act.

Neither tactic would accomplish the ostensible goal and would doom Republican chances to regain Congress or the White House for the forseeable future. More than 70 percent of voters, including 53 percent of Republicans, oppose a government shutdown. A debt default could have catastrophic economic consequences. However, many GOP politicians are equally fearful of the wrath of Tea Party zealots to whom they’ve made undeliverable promises.

Hence the melodramatic appeal of impeachment, a totally unserious threat its sponsors hope hotheads will see as more decisive. So what if it makes the United States look like a Banana Republic? That’s the form of government that fools prefer to democracy, with its tedious committee meetings, quorum calls and compromises. Just think how happy an impeachment battle would make the impresarios and talking heads of cable news.

So far only a couple of largely unknown House Republicans — Kerry Bentivolio of Michigan and Blake Farenthold of Texas — have publicly endorsed the idea of impeaching Obama. But the clamor has also reached more powerful figures.

At a recent town hall meeting in Muskogee, Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, ostensibly a personal friend of the president’s, answered a constituent’s question about impeachment by allowing as how “those are serious things, but we’re in serious times. And I don’t have the legal background to know if that rises to ‘high crimes and misdemeanors,’ but I think you’re getting perilously close.”

Campaigning in Texas, Senator Cruz responded to a constituent who asked, “Why don’t we impeach him?” by saying, “It’s a good question.”

Cruz went on to give what he called “the simplest answer: To successfully impeach a president you need the votes in the U.S. Senate.”

Asked by the National Review if he’d consider changing his mind if Republicans take the House and Senate in 2014, Cruz answered, “that’s not a fight we have a prospect of winning.”

He didn’t say that there’s no remotely plausible evidence against the president, or that Americans settle political disputes through elections rather than show trials. Merely that a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate to remove President Obama from office isn’t feasible right now.

Cruz left the distinct impression that after his dry land political tidal wave fails to sweep the country this fall, he’d be willing to revisit the question. If he’s half as smart as he appears to think he is, the Texas Republican has to know that he’s going to be needing a powerful new issue come 2014.

To the Washington Post’s conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, “Cruz is emblematic of a group of conservative hucksters peddling outrage and paranoia who contend that the strength of the political resistance they generate is equivalent to their own importance, and that one dramatic, losing standoff after another is the pinnacle of political success.”

The point, see, wouldn’t be to defeat Obama, but other Republicans. And the key would be establishing himself as the champion of what E.J. Dionne calls the Republican Party’s “Armageddon Caucus.” Impeachment could then become the next lost cause.

They’ve always got to have one.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, August 28, 2013

August 29, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Eyes Wide Shut”: GOP Representatives Now Realize Effects Of The Sequester They Voted For

Representative Renee Ellmers (R-NC) introduced a bill on Tuesday that returns sequester-cut funding to physicians to provide chemotherapy drugs to patients. The Cancer Patient Protection Act of 2013, H.R. 1416, restores sequester cuts made to Medicare Part B in order to provide cancer treatment and reimburse physicians for the costs of cuts already made.

Ellmers, who voted in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011, called these cuts to cancer treatment “unintended consequences.” However, the cutback in funding wasn’t accidental, as Ellmers suggests—the Budget Control Act explicitly orders a sweeping two-percent cut to Medicare.

Despite her efforts to reverse its inevitable effects, Ellmers still defends the sequester. “I do believe it will start a very important process that will help our economy to start to grow,” she said. “The debt that we have at the federal level is our biggest threat for our country.”

Representative Blake Farenthold (R-TX) joins Rep. Ellmers in opposing elements of sequestration despite having voted for it. Farenthold, among others, was disturbed to hear of the closing of 149 air traffic control towers—especially those in Texas. The congressman sent a letter to FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Huerta, stating, “I am deeply troubled for your public statements and proposed actions regarding the effect of the sequester on smaller, local airports. These airports have long played a vital role in economies across the country.”

Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) was among the 269 representatives who voted in favor of the Budget Control Act, yet he too did not hesitate to criticize its effects. In Frelinghuysen’s district, children in Washington Township may be unable to enroll in Head Start programs due to lack of funding. Frelinghuysen said, “I view potential budget cuts to such an important program as another reason why sequestration is a bad idea.”

To date, sequestration has had significant effects on many Americans, and is expected to cause upward of $85 billion in cuts to communities across the country. The elderly have lost vital programs like Meals on Wheels; veterans may face difficulty accessing mental health, substance abuse, and job counseling services; and funding can be cut for medical research of illnesses like Alzheimer’s Disease.

The effects of sequestration are tangible; millions across the country have faced cuts across a range of industries. Rather than criticizing the effects of the sequester and introducing legislation to obtain certain exemptions from these imminent cuts, perhaps members of Congress like Ellmers, Farenthold and Frelinghuysen should have weighed the consequences before even voting for the measure.

 

By: Allison Brito, The National Memo, April 11, 2013

April 13, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Sequester | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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