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“A House Divided”: Its Pretty Hard To Actually Govern In A System Designed To Require Compromise

The plan was to force President Obama to either sign a bill repealing his executive actions on immigration or veto it and shut down the Department of Homeland Security. But things didn’t work out that way.

Senator McConnell couldn’t get the 6/7 Democratic votes he needed to pass a bill that paired funding for DHS to repealing the President’s immigration actions and Speaker Boehner was unwilling to pass a stand-alone funding bill with primarily Democratic votes. So we got a one week reprieve before we do this all over again.

The good news is that we found out that neither Republican leader is willing to follow through with their threats to blow up hostages in order to force Democrats to give them what they want. So at some point, they’ll pass a bill that funds DHS.

Here’s the bad news:

After the Republicans gained control of the Senate and increased their margins in the House in the November elections, both Mr. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, promised to reverse Congress’s pattern of hurtling from crisis to crisis, even over matters like appropriations that were once relatively routine.

But in their first big test, the Republican leaders often seemed to be working from different playbooks, at times verging on hostility, with each saying it was time for the other chamber to act.

The funding stalemate bodes poorly for any larger policy accomplishments this year, leaving lawmakers pessimistic that the 114th Congress will be able to work in a bipartisan fashion on more complicated issues.

The Office of Management and Budget has said that a vote to increase the nation’s debt limit will be necessary by mid- to late summer, and lawmakers were also hoping to take up trade policy, as well as at least a modest overhaul of the nation’s tax code — undertakings that now look increasingly imperiled.

When you’ve spent the last six years convincing your base that your opponent is a tyrant who is out to destroy the country and that his party’s agenda is the tool by which he will do that, its pretty hard to actually govern in a system that is designed to require compromise.

I wouldn’t say that any of that is a big surprise to those of us who have been paying attention. But what is surprising – and will be worth paying attention to over the next few months – is the apparent hostility between McConnell and Boehner. I don’t think anyone saw that coming. But it does suggest that there is more than one fault line in this divided house.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 28, 2015

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Congress, John Boehner, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“McConnell Is Blowing It…Big Time”: McConnell Has Forgotten What Is At The Heart Of The Strategy He Invented

My take on Sen. Mitch McConnell has always been that he is not so interested in issues/policies as he is in the power game of politics. That approach was never on display more clearly than when he said that his number one goal was to ensure that Obama was a one-term president – in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression.

Given that, I will credit McConnell with being a good strategist. No matter how bad his total obstructionist tactics were for the country, they were a fairly effective power play. That’s why it’s been so fascinating to watch him fail so miserably lately.

As I wrote at the beginning of this Republican-controlled Congress, McConnell’s initial strategy was to paint President Obama as the new obstructionist by forcing him to veto legislation that would otherwise undo his agenda. But that is getting all gummed up by either the Democrats in the Senate standing strong or the lunatic caucus in his party making compromise impossible. The Majority Leader finds himself between a rock and a hard place and can’t seem to get much of anything to the President’s desk.

So instead of being able to label President Obama as the obstructionist, McConnell is now having to resort to using that one on the Democrats in Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused Democrats Wednesday of knee-jerk obstructionist tactics, flipping a script that Democrats used many times in recent years.

McConnell criticized Democrats for filibustering a motion to debate a House-passed bill funding the Department of Homeland Security that contained language blocking President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

Aside from the irony of that coming from the great wielder of obstructionism, it seems that McConnell has forgotten what is at the heart of the strategy he invented. Here’s former Republican Congressional staffer Mike Lofgren’s explanation.

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress’s generic favorability rating among the American people…

There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters’ confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that “they are all crooks,” and that “government is no good,” further leading them to think, “a plague on both your houses” and “the parties are like two kids in a school yard.”

Those “low-information voters” don’t tend to know which party is pursuing which legislative tactic, but they sure do know which party holds the presidency. And they’ve likely heard about the “shellacking” the President’s party took in the 2014 midterms that gave control of Congress to the opposing party.

So the spectacle voters are witnessing right now is a Democratic President who is busy getting things done while Congress is gridlocked and McConnell whines that Democrats in the Senate won’t let him get anything done.

In other words, you’re blowing it McConnell…big time!

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, February 14, 2015

February 16, 2015 Posted by | Mitch Mc Connell, Obstructionism, Republicans | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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