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“I Won Both Of Them”: If Republicans Dish It Out, They Have To Be Prepared To Get It Back

The substance of a presidential address always matters more than the theatrics. That said, I imagine most observers would agree one specific moment from President Obama’s speech last night was one of the more memorable of any recent State of the Union address.

Towards the end of his remarks, Obama took an almost contemplative turn, telling the audience, “I have no more campaigns to run.” Some Republicans responded with derisive applause, prompting the president to depart from his prepared remarks.

“I know, because I won both of them,” Obama said with a sly smile.

For a few moments, I felt like I was watching a “Key & Peele” sketch and the president briefly became Luther, his “anger translator.”

Not surprisingly, the moment garnered quite a bit of attention.

Facebook’s policy team provided msnbc with data on the most talked-about topics and moments during the Obama’s oratory. The most viral moment of the State of the Union address, according to Facebook? That moment when President Obama said “I have no more campaigns to run,” was interrupted by partisan cheers, and shot back: “I know, because I won both of them.”

TPM’s Sahil Kapur was on Capitol Hill last night, and apparently, congressional Republicans didn’t appreciate the president’s not-so-subtle jab.

“Probably not helpful when you rub the other guy’s nose in the dirt a little bit,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), told reporters. […]

Senate Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said Obama’s remarks did not make her feel “warm and fuzzy” about having to work with him for the next two years. […]

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), No. 4 in House GOP leadership, told TPM she was “disappointed” in the president when asked about the swipe.

Their “disappointment” strikes me as wildly misplaced – if Republicans can dish it out, they have to be prepared for the president to give it back. It was GOP lawmakers who decided to interrupt the speech with applause when Obama said he has no more campaigns to run. Can they really blame him for throwing a fastball of his own in their direction?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 21, 2015

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Congress, GOP, State of the Union | , , , | Leave a comment

“Far From The First Time”: Karl Rove Still Can’t Find An Actual Obamacare Victim

Politics is a constantly changing business, but there are still a few things you can count on in every election cycle: like Karl Rove’s dark money group, Crossroads GPS, blowing its donors’ money on misleading, ineffective attack ads.

Since President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010, its opponents have spent over $400 million on television ads attacking it, with Crossroads leading the way. But despite Republicans’ repeated assertions that Obamacare would be the issue that causes Americans to rise up against Democrats and throw them out of office, the torrent of attack ads has actually done little to sway public opinion against the law. In fact, according to a Brookings Institution study, anti-Obamacare ads may have actually increased ACA enrollments by raising awareness about the law and its benefits.

But still, conservative outside spenders are determined to take their anti-health care message directly to the voters. The latest example is a new ad from Crossroads GPS, in which a Colorado woman named Richelle McKim laments that Senator “Mark Udall’s vote for Obamacare has hurt families in Colorado.”

McKim recounts her husband’s decision to start a new business, saying “We knew we needed to find health care. Because we were a single-income family, we couldn’t afford our plan.” Text then flashes across the screen, letting viewers know that “Richelle had to go back to work.”

It seems like a perfect case to make to the suburban women who are likely to decide Senator Udall’s tight re-election battle against Republican congressman Cory Gardner.

It also happens to be totally false.

As Denver television station KDVR reports, McKim has worked constantly over the past six years; from July 2008 through May 2010, she worked from home as the office manager for her husband’s company (which, evidently, wasn’t founded as a response to Obamacare). Since then, she has worked for Anadarko Petroleum and Noble Energy — which have donated $57,550 and $36,000 to Gardner’s campaign, respectively.

By McKim’s own admission, Obamacare didn’t actually drive her back into the workforce, as the ad claims.

“It wasn’t the Affordable Care Act,” she told KDVR. “It was just a financial burden, having a single income for so long.”

And, for good measure, McKim’s husband used to forgo health insurance because he suffers from high blood pressure — a pre-existing condition that made his insurance more expensive until the ACA became law.

This is far from the first time that Obamacare opponents have been forced to stretch the truth, flatly lie, or just give up and use paid actors to tell a scare story. Indeed, it begs the question: If the Affordable Care Act is really such a disastrous boondoggle, why couldn’t Crossroads — or the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity, or even House Republican Conference chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers — find an actual victim?

In this case, the fact that Obamacare has helped cut Colorado’s uninsured rate by 6 percent might have something to do with it.

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, August 8, 2014

August 9, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Karl Rove, Obamacare | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another ‘Do Nothing’ Embarrassment”: House Fails To Pass Immigration Bill, Asks Obama To Act Alone

House Republicans pulled their embattled immigration legislation on Thursday, after failing to find enough Republicans to vote for the pared-down funding bill. The embarrassing defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) greatly increases the odds that the House will not do anything to act on the border crisis before leaving Washington for its August recess.

The Republican majority will hold a conference meeting at 3pm EST, after which House leaders will announce whether they will try again to hold a vote.

The House had planned to vote on two separate measures before leaving town: A $659 million funding bill to respond to the humanitarian crisis at the border, and a bill that would bar President Obama from expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which grants temporary work permits and relief from deportation for some young immigrants. But House leaders failed to gather the 218 votes needed to move forward.

Ironically, Speaker Boehner — who, one day earlier, advanced his plan to sue President Obama for allegedly exceeding his authority with executive orders — urged President Obama to act alone on securing the border. In a statement, Boehner and fellow House leaders Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), said:

This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws. There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries. For the past month, the House has been engaged in intensive efforts to pass legislation that would compel the president to do his job and ensure it can be done as quickly and compassionately as possible. Through an inclusive process, a border bill was built by listening to members and the American people that has the support not just of a majority of the majority in the House, but most of the House Republican Conference. We will continue to work on solutions to the border crisis and other challenges facing our country.

The House’s failure to gather enough votes for the bill represents a huge defeat in the first legislative test for McCarthy, the new majority leader, and Scalise, the new whip. The pair were apparently outmaneuvered by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who reportedly met with more than a dozen House Republicans on Wednesday night to press them to oppose leadership’s bill.

Even if the House had passed either bill, neither would have had any chance of becoming law. The $659 million in the House bill fell far short of the $3.7 billion President Obama had requested to confront the the growing funding crisis at the border, as well as the $2.7 billion in the bill advanced by the Senate on Wednesday. Additionally, as David Rogers pointed out in Politico, the bill contained very little money for hiring additional immigration judges, and no money for legal representation for the children at the border. Instead, it focused on expediting the deportation process by mandating that children coming from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala face a court hearing within a week of being screened by child welfare officials, and that the judge make a ruling within 72 hours of the end of the hearing.

The White House had vowed that President Obama would veto the House bill if it somehow reached his desk, saying in a statement that it “could make the situation worse, not better.”

The second bill, which would have barred President Obama from taking an executive action expanding DACA, existed purely to placate Tea Party conservatives who did not want to vote for leadership’s funding bill. As a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) told The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent before the vote, “If the House passed the DACA provision, it would go straight into the trash and never get a vote.”

 

By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, July 31, 2014

August 1, 2014 Posted by | Border Crisis, House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“We Can’t Handle The Truth!”: House GOP Leaders Scramble After Accidentally Telling The Truth

With a tip of the hat to Michael Kinsley, it appears half the House Republican leadership committed gaffes in recent days by accidentally telling the truth. They’re now scrambling to reverse course.

Late last week, for example, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the chair of the House Republican Conference, conceded to her local newspaper that the Affordable Care Act is unlikely to be repealed. Though she wants to “look at reforming the exchanges,” the local report added that McMorris Rodgers “said the framework established by the law likely will persist and reforms should take place within its structure.”

This was a perfectly sensible position for a House GOP leader to take. Yesterday, the congresswoman’s office assured the right she has no use for such reasonableness.

“The headline is not an accurate or representative portrayal of what the congresswoman said in the interview, what her voting record reflects, or what she believes. She will continue fighting to repeal Obamacare at every opportunity moving forward and replace it with patient-centered reforms,” McMorris Rodgers spokesman Nate Hodson said.

Also last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) conceded that opposition from rank-and-file House Republicans is to blame for the demise of immigration reform, and he was filmed openly mocking their reluctance to work hard. This morning, he walked it all back.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated Tuesday that he believes that the major impediment to moving forward with comprehensive immigration reform is a distrust of President Obama, and not an unwillingness of the members of his caucus to take up the legislation. […]

Boehner reassured members of the GOP House caucus during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he was not mocking them and that he believes Obama is the reason immigration reform has not moved forward.

The message from Boehner and McMorris Rodgers couldn’t be more obvious: they’re awfully sorry they got caught accidentally telling the truth.

This isn’t even a close call. In McMorris Rodgers’ case, what she told her local paper made perfect sense. The Affordable Care Act isn’t going anywhere, so it stands to reason policymakers should move past trying to destroy “Obamacare” and start looking for how best to make the system work effectively.

So why does her office insist she’ll “continue fighting to repeal Obamacare at every opportunity”? Why bother? How many millions of Americans will lose coverage if she succeeds?

As for Boehner, what the Speaker said last week was entirely true: the “blame Obama” talking point is transparently dumb, so Boehner’s candor about who ultimately bears responsibility was a welcome change of pace. Why run back to Capitol Hill now to deny what is plainly true?

Worse, Boehner told reporters, “There was no mocking.”

Mr. Speaker, there’s no point in fibbing when we’ve seen the video.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 29, 2014

 

 

April 30, 2014 Posted by | GOP, House Republicans, Obamacare | , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Easier Than Honesty”: Winning A Debate By Quashing Scrutiny

In her party’s official response to the State of the Union a few weeks ago, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the House Republican Conference chair, shared an anecdote about “Bette in Spokane,” the latest in a series of “Obamacare victims.” As is usually the case, within a day or two, the story was debunked.

Once McMorris Rodgers realized her story was wrong, the congresswoman, instead of apologizing, tried to go on the offensive. “It’s sad partisan politicians are attacking Bette,” she argued.

In reality, no one had “attacked” the woman in the story. Rather, McMorris Rodgers’ anecdote was fact checked and proven to be wrong. To suggest that scrutinizing suspect claims is somehow improper is absurd, but that was nevertheless the congresswoman’s reaction.

It was apparently a sign of things to come.

Last week, the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity launched a new attack ad targeting Rep. Gary Peters, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Michigan. The spot features Julie Boonstra, a Michigan woman who’s paying less money for better insurance without having to change doctors, but who was nevertheless presented in the ad as yet another ACA victim.

Peters, not surprisingly, believes AFP should provide more information to bolster the claims in its ad. The right, no longer willing to defend the deceptive commercial, has decided to attack Peters.

U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich., wants to be a United States senator, but he has a problem. He’s engaged in a “war on women” – make that a single woman – whom he’s trying to silence because he doesn’t like the story she has to tell. […]

Julie Boonstra deserves a medal for what she is doing. Peters should hang his head in shame.

It’s a fascinating rhetorical gambit, worth appreciating for its rare combination of audacity and mendacity. What’s more, it’s increasingly becoming the standard response to one of the right’s more glaring problems in the health care debate: all of the conservatives’ evidence keeps falling apart.

Let’s say you have a movement of sorts and your goal is to deliberately tear down the nation’s health care system, no matter the consequences. Let’s also say you have the bright idea of using anecdotal evidence to highlight “victims” in order to prove how awful the system is, only to have pesky reporters discover that all of your evidence is bogus and the victims haven’t really been victimized at all.

At this point, you have a few choices. You could, for example, find a new hobby and stop trying to prevent Americans from having access to affordable health care. Or you could cast a new line, hoping to find some elusive, legitimate horror stories that won’t be debunked a day or so later.

But these are strategies based on conventional thinking. What you really need is a very different kind of plan: one in which you keep presenting bogus anecdotes, but discourage those who know what they’re talking about from pointing out your errors. What you want is to promote misleading propaganda with impunity – more mendacity, less scrutiny.

And how do you do that? By lashing out angrily against those noting the facts. Those who recognize the AFP’s Boonstra ad as misleading are obviously attacking a woman with cancer and should be ashamed of themselves – or so the story goes.

I suppose it’s clever, in an Alice in Wonderland sort of way, but it’s no way to have a credible policy debate. Indeed, it seems some of these conservatives are effectively giving up on the very idea of a serious discourse – they not only want to present misleading anecdotes, they also want to intimidate those who might dare to note reality by accusing them of being heartless bullies.

As Greg Sargent put it the other day, many on the right have essentially declared “that the emotional content of these victims’ stories should shield such ads from scrutiny.” Fact-checking suspect claims “will be met with charges of insensitivity to the victims.”

I guess it’s easier than honesty.

Postscript: The Wall Street Journal ran a piece yesterday arguing that the Affordable Care Act cost a woman her cancer medication. The piece was quickly embraced by the right, but it was debunked by Michael Hiltzik a few hours later.

If recent history is any guide, this means Hiltzik should expect to be accused of not caring about people with cancer. Sorry, Mike.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 25, 2014

February 26, 2014 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Americans for Prosperity, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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