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“Poisonous Intra-Party Politics”: John Boehner’s Resignation Won’t Save Republicans From Themselves

For all his flaws, House Speaker John Boehner, who announced on Friday that he will resign from Congress at the end of October, was badly served by a lot of people.

Boehner’s decision is due not to any ostensible scandal or illness but to cruel political mathematics: His conference has become so dysfunctional that when a Republican speaker resigns, the House becomes less, not more, chaotic and reckless. The circumstances that prefigured his resignation are thus a fitting metaphor for his entire speakership and for the state of the Republican Party as a whole. It would be to Boehner’s credit to do everything in his power in the next month to protect his successor from the same fate.

What makes Boehner’s decision surprising is that the forces that drove him to it are familiar enough that they’ve become mundane. Up against a deadline to complete a basic function of government—in this case, to fund it—Boehner found himself beset by conservative demands that he condition Congress’ obligation to help run the country on President Barack Obama’s capitulating to partisan demands. This time the demand was to defund Planned Parenthood. In the past it’s been to change immigration policy, slash social spending, and defund the Affordable Care Act. In each instance, Boehner was confronted with a terrible choice: provoke a crisis, like the 2013 government shutdown, or capitulate to Obama, and face repercussions from unruly conservative members, who were constantly threatening to depose him.

These episodes of brinkmanship always resolved themselves, sometimes in damaging ways. In addition to the shutdown, Boehner’s 2011 decision to ransom the statutory debt limit brought the country within hours of an economically devastating credit default, and precipitated an agreement to impose automatic, indiscriminate spending cuts that harm the government and the economy to this day. More recently, he placated his members by embroiling the House in a lawsuit against the president, which, if successful, would precipitate a constitutional crisis. But he always maintained his brittle grip on power. Either he no longer believes he can, or doesn’t want the hassle anymore.

By stepping down, but not for a month, Boehner has freed himself from the poisonous intraparty politics that made it all but impossible for him to govern, and left himself a brief opening in which to settle some accounts, before the next speaker is elected.

If the succession of power goes as it has in recent years, his deputy—Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California—will become speaker. A conservative dark horse, like Representative Jeb Hensarling of Texas, could mount a challenge. But any insurgent candidate will have to overcome the fact that the speakership, unlike the majority leadership and other high-ranking posts, is determined by the entire House. Democrats, who can not elect a speaker on their own, are ultimately likelier to assure a victory for McCarthy over the devil they don’t know.

But no matter who comes next, the question is whether they’ll immediately confront the same tawdry dynamic that ultimately felled Boehner, or whether Boehner takes it upon himself to bring some stability to the chamber.

If he takes the path of least resistance, the next speaker will have all the same problems Boehner had, minus his years of experience. That path would end with a brief continuation of government funding—just enough to hand the same political mess over to a new leadership team. It would leave the government no less vulnerable to a shutdown, or another debt limit crisis, or a lapse in highway funding, and the party no less vulnerable to bearing responsibility for a crisis in the middle of election season. Call it Boehner’s curse.

Boehner probably can’t end the vicious cycle that hobbled his speakership. But he could plausibly clear the deck for his successor for long enough that the big issues Republicans want to fight over can play out in the election, rather than in the throes of governance. He could place legislation on the floor that funds the government for a year, extends the debt limit through 2016, and replenishes the highway trust fund, and allow Democrats to supply most of the votes required to restore calm. If Boehner were determined to make the next speakership less volatile than his own, and to end his own speakership on a note of responsible stewardship, he almost certainly could. What remains to be seen is whether he has one last fight left in him.

 

By: Brian Beutler, Senior Editor, The New Republic; September 26, 2015

September 27, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Revised GOP Ransom Note”: House Republicans Now Willing To Fund Government In Exchange For One Year Obamacare Delay

House Republicans are preparing to introduce a new, last minute Continuing Resolution that would fund the operations of government for a few more months in exchange for an agreement by Senate Democrats and the White House to delay the execution of Obamacare for one year.

This newest bid is being presented as a “compromise” as the initial proposal put forward by the House—one that was rejected by the Senate—hinged the funding of government on the full defunding of the Affordable Care Act.

Compromise?

I suppose it is if you consider that someone holding a gun to your head and demanding ten million dollars to spare your life becomes a “compromiser” when he suddenly drops the price to seven million after you’ve told your assailer that you can’t or won’t pay.

Or maybe you would consider a foreign power threating our country with thermonuclear destruction unless we surrender to them as being willing to compromise if they modify their demand so as to leave us with everything east of the Mississippi if we are prepared to give up all the territory to the west?

For those who would fool themselves into believing that the latest House offer is some effort to find “middle ground”, ask yourself this question—

Why do these people wish to delay enforcement of the Affordable Care Act for one year?

Does anyone imagine that those who have been seeking to deny funding to government absent the delay or destruction of a law that was passed by Congress, signed into being by the President, and approved by the Supreme Court actually want to hold off the implementation of that law so they can improve it?

At no time—since the blitzkrieg of misinformation and outright lies that have been peddled by Obamacare opponents following the Act’s creation–have the House Republicans so much as once suggested that they would like to improve the law. Having voted more than 40 times to repeal or defund the law, have they ever, since passage, voted on proposed amendments to the law that they claim would improve the healthcare reform act?

Never.

Indeed, they are not even pretending to want to make it better via a delay as not so much as one Republican elected official who has paraded in front of the TV cameras today to pitch defunding or delay has so much as hinted than an extra year would give Congress time to make some ‘fixes’ or ‘changes.’

So, again, why the one year extension?

The better to keep the issue ‘hot’ for Republicans going into the 2014 midterm elections.

After all, nothing is going to change in the next year that would improve the Republicans’ chances of doing away with the law.

Should the GOP hold the House in the 2014 elections and pick up enough seats in the Senate to gain a majority, absolutely nobody believes for a moment that the GOP could gain enough Senate seats so as to grant them the capability of overturning a presidential veto.

And, like it or not, the Democrats will hold the White House through 2016.

And yet, every Republican mug I see on the television screen today tells me that they are doing this for me.

Really?

My premium rates are scheduled to go down rather dramatically upon the opening of the healthcare exchange in my state. So, what exactly are these House Republicans doing for me—and the millions of other Americans who cannot get coverage due to preexisting conditions (like acne) or face using up their lifetime maximums when a serious illness strikes? What exactly are Ted Cruz and his friends doing for those who are denied their paid for coverage after they get sick by insurance companies who don’t want to pay off and can find a spelling error on the insured’s application? What about the millions of Americans who simply have been unable to afford health insurance coverage without the benefit of the government subsidies or those who are married forever to their job—whether they like it or not— because, to leave it, would mean putting their family in jeopardy should someone get sick?

Still, if the GOP continues to feel the need to use healthcare policy to hold up funding of the government, and they are truly doing this for my benefit, I have an additional policy change I’d like Speaker Boehner to add to the new House legislation—things that would truly be for my benefit and the benefit of my family—

I would like the Speaker to make the Continuing Resolution to keep the government’s doors open contingent upon gun control legislation that requires registration of all weapons at the time of purchase. That would be doing something that could truly help me and my family.

And before anyone tries to tell me that this would be unacceptable because—unlike Obamacare where the majority of the country currently opposes the law, the majority of Americans love their guns—I suggest you review the polls revealing that more Americans favor changes in gun registration laws than the number of Americans who oppose the Affordable Care Act.

I could go on with more ransom demands for the Speaker but I’ll settle for just this one. After all, Boehner only plans to fund the government through this December in exchange for destroying the Affordable Care Act so I don’t want to be too greedy as to what I would expect for a three month extension of an operating government.

If the House Republicans are unwilling to link the funding of government to the things that will really be of value to me, then I can only hope that the Senate Democrats and the President hold the line and allow the GOP to get what is coming to them for their behavior.

While I hate to see so many of my fellow Americans suffer the problems and serious inconveniences that are inevitable in a government shut down, I—like so many Americans that the right-wing prefers to pretend do not exist—have had enough of these eighty to one hundred extremists in Congress standing in the way of trying to make life better for so many Americans just so they can be re-elected . These are, after all, elected officials that come from congressional districts where constituents continue to be incapable of grasping that the debt ceiling debate is about paying for debts we’ve already incurred and not some limitation on what government can borrow or spend in the following year.

I also highlight that these people on the right prefer to pretend I do exist because of their continued suggestion that “Americans” do not want the healthcare reform law. Not so much as one supporter of defunding or delaying Obamacare, who has spoken to the cameras today, has said “some Americans” or “most Americans”. They simply say that this law is a train wreck and Americans don’t want it.

Like it or not, I am an American and I do want this alleged train wreck as do enough of my fellow Americans to constitute at least forty percent of the electorate. So, I would very much appreciate it if Rep. Jeb Henserling and the remaining band of the GOP talking heads haunting the airwaves would stop lumping me in with their political distortions.

The President is flat-out right on this one. If the Republicans want to argue over what should—or should not—be included in the next fiscal year’s budget, I’m all for it. Each branch of Congress can pass their version of a budget and the two  can get into the conference committee room and beat each other up until they come to a budget  agreement they can send over to the White House for signature.

But if these 100 or so Members of Congress want to screw up people’s lives because they have a fundamental problem with our system of government, we should give them no quarter.

And make no mistake, it is precisely these people’s resentment of how our government was created to operate that drives them to these extremist positions—no matter how much they pretend to be ‘strict constitutionalists’.

Just because GOP legislators like to carry a copy of the Constitution in their suit pocket doesn’t mean they’ve ever read it or could care less what it actually says. It just means they have pockets large enough to hold fat oil company checks and a tiny copy of our founding document at the same time.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 29, 2013

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, GOP, Government Shut Down | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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