mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Mollifying The Insurgents”: Contrary To Their Laughable Spin, That’s Basically Their Job Descriptions Of McConnell And Ryan

Congress has until a week from today to pass a spending bill or face another government shutdown. That means that Sen. Mitch McConnell and Speaker Paul Ryan have their work cut out for them. The last thing they want is to have the American electorate watch them shut the government down as we head into a presidential election year. And yet the insurgent wing of their party has been pushing for the inclusion of several “riders” to the spending bill that Democrats oppose and President Obama has promised to veto. They include:

* Making changes to the refugee program that would basically eliminate Syrian and Iraqi refugees

* Defunding Planned Parenthood

* Repealing Obamacare

There has also been talk about riders that would roll back Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms and EPA’s environmental regulations.

One of the things McConnell and Ryan have been doing to forestall a shutdown is to bring up bills that include these items and allow votes on them separate from the spending bill. So as we saw in the immediate aftermath of the Paris attack, the House voted on the changes to the refugee program. There has still been some effort to include it in the spending bill, but as I mentioned recently, that push is starting to fade.

Last night McConnell pulled off a two-fer with a vote on a separate bill that would both defund Planned Parenthood and repeal significant parts of Obamacare. Since it was brought up under a process called “reconciliation,” Democrats couldn’t filibuster and so it required 51 votes to pass – it got 52. No one doubts that President Obama will veto the measure. So the spin Republicans are putting on this is fascinating.

Republicans hailed it as a political messaging victory and a fulfillment of their promise from the 2014 midterm election to force President Obama to veto the landmark healthcare reform law named after him.

A “political messaging victory?” Does that sound like the kind of thing their angry base is looking for? Ha-ha!

And someone is going to have to find a reference for that 2014 midterm election promise about forcing President Obama to veto a repeal of Obamacare. I’ve looked and can’t find where they said that. There was plenty of talk about actually repealing Obamacare. But forcing a veto…not so much.

All this drama is really about trying to find a way to mollify the insurgents in their party and get them to back off of attempts to shut the government down. In explaining some of the shenanigans McConnell had to pull off to get last night’s vote, Kevin Drum summed it up pretty well.

Politico has a fascinating story today. It’s all about Mitch McConnell’s months of LBJ-worthy maneuvering to get legislation passed that would repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, thus paving the way for a clean budget bill later this year. But here’s the kicker: he wasn’t engaged in Herculean negotiations with Democrats. He was engaged in Herculean negotiations with his own party…

In today’s Washington, passing bills isn’t a matter of getting Republicans and Democrats to agree. They can usually manage that. The trick is somehow neutering the wingnut faction of the Republican Party. Once that’s done, negotiations between the two parties are (relatively speaking) a piece of cake. Welcome to 2015.

Over the net week, we’ll get to see if McConnell and Ryan have managed to mollify the insurgents. Contrary to their laughable spin, that’s basically their job description these days.

 

By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, December 4, 2015

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Government Shut Down, Mitch Mc Connell, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Fiorina The Smooth Operator”: The Essence Of Fiorina ’16: A Smooth Exterior With Little Beneath It

In a piece at Vox today that you should most definitely read if you are following what passes for a bipartisan debate on climate change, Dave Roberts looks closely at a four-minute segment of an interview Katie Couric did with Carly Fiorina that Republican flacks are praising as a genius tour de force (for Carly, of course, not for Katie). He goes through ten claims Fiorina–not a climate change denier but rather someone who finds infinite excuses not to do anything about it–made in the interview against Democratic climate change proposals and shows they are more than a bit factually challenged. A sample of an argument Carly advanced as a Californian:

California “destroys lives and livelihoods with environmental regulations”

California’s climate regulations are indeed the most ambitious in the nation, and they just keep getting more ambitious. (A pair of new climate bills has cleared the Senate and is headed to the Assembly.)

If California were its own country, it would be one of the world’s top 10 in total renewable energy generation and one of the bottom two in carbon intensity. It is the top state in the nation for venture capital investments in cleantech, cleantech patents, and advanced-energy jobs. In fact, it leads the nation in virtually every cleantech category, from electric vehicles to green buildings to solar capacity to policy to investment, reliably topping the US Cleantech Leadership Index.

Meanwhile, between 1993 and 2013, thanks to energy efficiency, the average residential electricity bill in California declined, on an inflation-adjusted basis, by 4 percent, even as bills rose elsewhere in the country. Between 1990 and 2012, the state cut per-capita carbon emissions by 25 percent even as its GDP increased by 37 percent. Its total carbon emissions are declining, even as its economy continues to grow.

Oh, and California created more jobs than any other state in the nation last year, with the fifth-highest GDP growth rate. And its budget is balanced.

Looks like the state is surviving its environmental regulations so far.

After nine other, similar expositions, Roberts concludes:

However smooth Fiorina may be, in the end it’s not going to make sense to voters to acknowledge the science of climate change and then say you’re against every solution to it except handing out subsidies to the coal industry. That is some unstable derp. If I had to predict, I’d say political pressure will be such that Fiorina will either be forced back into outright denialism or she’ll have to offer something less vaporous on the policy front. She won’t be able to stay where she is.

But note that qualifier “in the end.” Untutored folk watching Fiorina may simply notice how “smooth” she is. And the fact that it’s Katie Couric interviewing her is instructive. A series of Couric inteviews took Sarah Palin down several notches in 2008 because the nationally unknown Alaska governor was anything but smooth. But that’s the essence of Fiorina ’16: a smooth exterior with little beneath it.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, August 21, 2015

August 22, 2015 Posted by | Carly Fiorina, Climate Change, Coal Industry | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Clever Little Deceptions”: Behind The G.O.P.’s Misleading Shutdown Statements

Senator Mitch McConnell said yesterday that he would not shut down the government, over immigration or anything else, after he takes over as Majority Leader in January. On the same day, Speaker John Boehner refused to rule out a shutdown. Both were being deceptive, but Mr. McConnell, as usual, was a little more clever about it.

The House produced last year’s government shutdown when it insisted on attaching the repeal of various parts of the Affordable Care Act to spending bills necessary to keep the government open. That was a huge embarrassment for Mr. Boehner, making his caucus appear feral and ungovernable, and he has no desire to repeat it.

But his newly expanded Republican majority actually is a bit wilder than the outgoing one, and it is inflamed by President Obama’s plans to take executive action on immigration by sparing up to 5 million people from deportation. Some on the far right want to pass no spending bills if the president takes action; others, as National Review reported, want to shut down only specific departments, like Homeland Security (which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

Mr. Boehner is playing his customary game of appearing provocative in public, to keep his most extreme members at bay, while trying to cut some kind of deal in private. But if he or his members think a shutdown of the Homeland Security department is going to work, they’re kidding themselves. During the last shutdown, most of the department stayed open, in part because many of its functions are considered essential and are funded by fees rather than Congressional appropriations. To have any real leverage, House Republicans would have to threaten to shut down more than that.

Mr. McConnell wants his chamber to appear reasonable and governable in contrast to the House, and likes to portray himself as the leader who averts shutdowns. But he’s the one who has already threatened to use spending bills to stop any environmental regulations that might restrict the burning of coal, which is the same as a shutdown threat.

His plans are evident in the exact wording of his statement yesterday: “We’ll not be shutting the government down or threatening to default on the national debt.” But if he can pin the shutdown on the president, then he can claim he wasn’t the one who closed the government’s doors. During the last shutdown, the spending bills never reached the president’s desk for a veto, because the House’s demands were rejected by the Senate, and everything was blamed on “Congressional gridlock.” With Republican control of both chambers, things will be different, and a shutdown remains very much on the table.

 

By: David Firestone, Taking Note,The Editorial Page Editors Blog; The New York Times, November 14, 2014

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Government Shut Down, John Boehner, Mitch Mc Connell | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaparty Republican Governors Seek Big Cutbacks To De-Regulate The Environment

Gov. Paul LePage wants three million acres of North Woods forests opened to development. Weeks after he was sworn in as governor of Maine, Paul LePage, a Tea Party favorite, announced a 63-point plan to cut environmental regulations, including opening three million acres of the North Woods for development and suspending a law meant to monitor toxic chemicals that could be found in children’s products. Mr. LePage said workers’ and businesses’ interests should be defended “with the same vigor that we defend tree frogs.”

Another Tea Party ally, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida, has proposed eliminating millions of dollars in annual outlays for land conservation as well as cutting to $17 million the $50 million allocated in last year’s budget for the restoration of the dwindling Everglades.

And in North Carolina, where Republicans won control of both houses of the Legislature for the first time in 140 years, leaders recently proposed a budget that would cut operating funds to the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources by 22 percent.

In the past month, the nation’s focus has been on the budget battle in Washington, where Republicans in Congress aligned with the Tea Party have fought hard for rollbacks to the Environmental Protection Agency, clean air and water regulations, renewable energy and other conservation programs. But similar efforts to make historically large cuts to environmental programs are also in play at the state level as legislatures and governors take aim at conservation and regulations they see as too burdensome to business interests.

Governor LePage summed up the animus while defending his program in a radio address. “Maine’s working families and small businesses are endangered,” he said. “It is time we start defending the interests of those who want to work and invest in Maine with the same vigor that we defend tree frogs and Canadian lynx.”

When Republicans wrested control across the country last November, they made clear that reducing all government was important, but that cutting environmental regulations was a particular priority. Almost all state environmental budgets have been in decline since the start of the recession, said R. Steven Brown, executive director of the Environmental Council of the States, which works with environmental agencies across the country. What has changed this budget season is the scope and ambition of the proposed cuts and the plans to dismantle the regulatory systems, say advocates who are already battle-hardened. “Historically, we’ve taken pride in being a leader in environmental quality in the Southeast,” said Molly Diggins of North Carolina, director of the state chapter of the Sierra Club. “But there is now such fervor to reduce the size of the environmental agency. The atmosphere is the most vitriolic it’s ever been.”

David Guest, the managing attorney for the Florida office of Earthjustice, a national environmental law firm, said Governor Scott’s budget was “the most radical anti-environmental budget” he had seen in two decades of environmental work. Comparing Mr. Scott’s proposed changes with those of Florida’s previous Republican governors, including Jeb Bush, he called them “a whole new world.”

The strategies have been similar across the affected states: cut budgets and personnel at regulatory agencies, prevent the issuing of new regulations, roll back land conservation and, if possible, eliminate planning boards that monitor, restrict or permit building development.

In New Jersey, for example, Gov. Chris Christie, another favorite among Tea Party loyalists, has said the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, which preserves more than 800,000 acres of open land that supplies drinking water to more than half of New Jersey’s residents, is an infringement on property rights. Mr. Christie has moved to shift power from planning boards and government agencies to administrative judges, political appointees who, environmentalists say, tend to rule more often in favor of developers’ interests.

In Florida, Governor Scott has asked to cut staff members to 40 from 358 at the Department of Community Affairs, which regulates land use and was created to be a control on unchecked urban sprawl. Lane Wright, a spokesman for Governor Scott, said the cuts would enable businesses to grow again in Florida. The governor “does care about the environment,” Mr. Wright said, “but feels it is more important to get people back to work.”

In the first round of federal budget fights, Republicans appear to have won some of what they sought: $1.6 billion in cuts from the E.P.A. and $49 million from programs related to climate change. But they fell short in other areas. Daniel J. Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington policy group, said that by his calculation the Republicans had sought nearly $10 billion in cuts related to efficiency and renewable energy but got less than $3.7 billion. “The Democrats successfully defended investments in clean energy,” Mr. Weiss said.

The eventual outcome at the state level is much less clear. Florida and North Carolina’s budget battles are in the early stages. In New Jersey, where Governor Christie has been in office since 2010, he has held up stricter drinking water standards, saying he is waiting for further research by the E.P.A. And yet, in Maine, Governor LePage’s agenda has engendered such an angry response that the newly elected Republican majority in the State Legislature seems to be backpedaling from many of its strongest components. Mr. LePage’s proposal to open the woodlands has not yet been introduced as a bill. And this month the Legislature made a point of enacting a ban on a chemical detected in sippy cups. All but three legislators voted for it. (Mr. LePage has questioned whether the science is strong enough to support such a ban.) Adrienne Bennett, the governor’s press secretary, acknowledged that Mr. LePage had not gotten everything he wanted, but pointed to some victories. The governor just signed a law that will reduce restrictions for building on sand dunes, and his proposal to provide incentives to businesses to police themselves on a variety of environmental regulations is still in the Legislature. “‘We will continue to move forward,” Ms. Bennett said.

By: Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, April 15, 2011

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Businesses, Congress, Conservatives, Energy, Environment, Environmental Protection Agency, Global Warming, GOP, Gov Chris Christie, Gov Paul LePage, Gov Rick Scott, Governors, Greenhouse Gases, Lawmakers, Maine, Politics, Regulations, Republicans, State Legislatures, States, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: