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“Shuffling The Deck Chairs On The Titanic”: Are Right Wing Republicans Plotting A Coup Against John Boehner?

Right-wing Republicans are reportedly organizing a coup against House Speaker John Boehner — and if they get their way, Paul Ryan could end up holding the speaker’s gavel.

Speaker Boehner — who is currently the least popular leader in Congress — has long struggled to control the right-wing flank of his party, but his disastrous failure to pass his “Plan B” budget deal crystallized the problem in a highly public way.

In response, some on the right are mobilizing to replace Boehner with a House speaker who drops Boehner’s pretense of being willing to negotiate with the White House, and who sticks more purely to extreme conservative dogma.

According to Matthew Boyle of the far-right website Breitbart News, conservative House Republicans have already laid the groundwork to do just that. Boyle reports that several members and staffers are quietly circulating a multi-step plan to oust Boehner as speaker on January 3rd. The first step of the plan would be to change House rules to elect the speaker by secret ballot instead of by a public roll-call vote; this would protect the congressmen who vote against Boehner from retribution.

The plotters are confident that such a measure would succeed, because Boehner himself has passionately argued in favor of secret ballots in the past. While opposing the Employee Free Choice Act — ironically, a favorite target of the right wing that now has Boehner in its sights — the speaker wrote a 2009 op-ed stressing that secret ballots protect against “coercion” and “intimidation.” In a document laying out the plan to oust Boehner (which can be viewed on, the anonymous staffers behind the planned coup note that Boehner would be in the “impossible position of opposing secret ballot or being confronted on the Floor with his own, indicting op-ed.”

If the move to vote via secret balloting is successful, then House Republicans would be able to anonymously vote until a Republican gains the 218 votes necessary for election as speaker. According to Boyle, House Republicans are confident that Boehner would not survive a secret ballot — but that another, still-anonymous congressman, “will unite the party and take the speakership.”

Could that congressman be Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan? Right-wing pundit Laura Ingraham said on Wednesday that “a well-placed conservative voice on the Hill” told her that there were “rumblings” that Ryan could replace Boehner. Although the former vice-presidential nominee is a member of Boehner’s “fiscal cliff” negotiating team (and supported Boehner’s ill-fated “Plan B”), he has the support of prominent right-wing voices such as Red State’s Erick Erickson, and his Tea Party bona fides have been well established over the past four years. If any congressional Republican could unite Boehner’s supporters and the Tea Party-backed base of the party, it would probably be Ryan.

That said, were Ryan to be elected as sSpeaker, there’s no reason to believe that he’d prove any more successful in the role than Boehner has. House Republicans — most of whom come from extremely safe districts where their only electoral concern would be a conservative primary challenge — seem wholly unconcerned with the political realities facing their party, and the fiscal realities facing the country. It doesn’t matter if Boehner, or Ryan, or even an outsider like Jon Huntsman becomes speaker (as American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein recently suggested in a Hall of Fame example of how inside-the-Beltway consensus loses touch with reality).

Until the Republican Party listens to the American people and compromises on its extremely right-wing (and extremely unpopular) positions, changing its leadership will amount to little more than shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.


By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, December 27, 2012

December 29, 2012 Posted by | Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“A Very Naughty Boy”: John Boehner Gets More Than 2,000 Lumps Of Coal For Christmas

House Speaker John Boehner will be greeted by more than 2,000 pieces of coal when he returns to Washington after what was unlikely to have been a relaxing vacation in Ohio amid the standoff over the fiscal cliff.

The coal is being delivered by The Action—a campaign to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent—which says Boehner has been extra “naughty” this year.

Last week, Boehner proposed legislation called “Plan B” that would have ended the Bush-era tax cuts on those with income of up to $1 million, but some House Republicans refused to support it. Democrats and Republicans disagree over whether the nation’s wealthiest taxpayers should see higher rates, but both parties agree they want to avoid tax increases for the middle class.

On, The Action entreats supporters to call Boehner’s office because he “is desperate to protect the richest Americans at the expense of the rest of us.” For each call made, the campaign promises to hand deliver one lump of coal to Boehner’s office. As of this writing, the campaign counts 2333 pieces of coal as ready for delivery.

President Barack Obama will be back in Washington Thursday to try to negotiate once more with Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff before tax increases and spending cuts kick in at the end of the year.


By: Elizabeth Flock, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, December 26, 2012


December 27, 2012 Posted by | Budget, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“John Boehner’s Christmas Gift”: A Guarantee That The Republican House Will Destroy The Economy

Last week, we learned that Speaker of the House John Boehner has no control over his majority. We’ve seen Boehner have trouble with his caucus before, of course — a significant portion of these people are crazy — but the failure of “Plan B” was different. In the past Boehner has had trouble whipping votes to support things that were destined to become law. Boehner couldn’t get his caucus to support TARP because TARP was awful and was also definitely going to happen. Boehner couldn’t get the votes for the 2011 debt deal because conservatives thought they’d eventually force an even better deal. But this was a totally symbolic gesture that never had any shot at passing the Senate or getting signed by the president. Boehner’s “Plan B” was a stupid pointless empty gesture, and that is why its failure is actually slightly scary, in addition to being hilarious.

The point of “Plan B” was to give Republicans a means of blaming Democrats when everyone’s taxes go up next year, while also giving them an opportunity to claim that they supported raising taxes on rich people. The problem was, Republicans really don’t support raising taxes on rich people, and they feel so strongly about this that they didn’t want to pretend to support a tax increase.

What is especially silly about all of this is that in any sort of sensible political system none of it would be happening. A majority of Americans just voted for Democrats to control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, which would seem to indicate that a majority of American voters would just prefer it if Barack Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi decided all of this for themselves. But that’s not the way our archaic political system works, and instead we will watch this unpopular anthropomorphic Camel 100 carefully negotiate a compromise with the president that his party will refuse to support, until we either extend all tax cuts forever or “go over the cliff” and cause every Sunday show panelist in the country to hyperventilate until losing consciousness.

How did we get here? Keep in mind, your average congressperson is as dumb as your average regular person, and Republican members listen to the same talk radio and read the same right-wing blogs and watch the same Fox News as every other conservative. It’s always been comforting to imagine that canny evil masterminds huddle in backrooms plotting how to use the right-wing media machine to manipulate the rubes into accepting whatever the corporate elites want, but the story now is that the canny masterminds have no control over the media operation they’ve built and the “grownups” cannot convince the true believers to do shit. There’s really no talking sense into Michele Bachmann and Steve King, and every two years gerrymandered ultra-conservative districts send more and more Kings and Bachmanns to the House. And Republicans know that their safe districts are only safe from Democrats, not even-crazier Republicans.

John Boehner will probably be fine. He’ll likely remain speaker even, mostly because no one else wants that horrible job. America might not be fine.

“Going over the fiscal cliff” will be a fun adventure at first, especially because it has been so long since America has had any sort of tax hike or defense budget cut, but shortly after the “cliff” comes the debt ceiling increase vote, and there is really no chance, at all, of the House raising the debt ceiling, under any circumstance. Maybe if the president agrees to block grant Medicare and return America to the gold standard. And promises to personally fire 100 teachers.

The idea that “going over the cliff” would give the president enough leverage to get a halfway decent deal — with some stimulus up front and everything! — depended on a House of Representatives capable of acting rationally. It’s apparent that they are in fact prepared to intentionally tank the entire American economy.


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, December 24, 2012

December 26, 2012 Posted by | Fiscal Cliff | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Unfit For Responsibility”: What Americans Should Learn From The “Republican Apocalypse”

What may finally consume the House Republicans is their boundless contempt for the American public – a contempt bluntly demonstrated in their refusal to consider any reasonable compromise with President Obama to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” on December 31. They know from the election results (and every poll) that the public believes taxes should be raised on the wealthy. They know that the public wants bipartisan compromise. And they know that the approval rating of the House Republicans, in contrast to the president’s upwardly trending numbers, are veering toward historic lows.

Moreover, they claim to believe that the major tax hikes and spending cuts that will occur on January 1, if negotiations, fail, will be ruinous for the American and perhaps the world economy. (And never mind that this concern validates Keynesian economics, flatly contradicting their professed ideology.) Failure to achieve a deal may result in a renewed recession or worse.

Yet the majority of Republican members adhere so blindly to their far-right ideology that on Thursday evening, they humiliated their own leadership by refusing to support Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” — and effectively scuttled negotiations between the House leadership and the White House. Boehner thought a bill to increase taxes only on households earning more than $1 million annually would pass the House, as Majority Leader Eric Cantor confidently announced. “We’re going to have the votes,” he said on Thursday afternoon. Several hours later the House leaders cancelled the roll call on the tax bill, admitting that they didn’t have the votes.

This embarrassing episode – the “Mayan Apocalypse” of the Republicans Party – demonstrates again why they are unfit for the responsibilities of national office.

They proved their unfitness the first time in the summer of 2011, when they held the national debt ceiling hostage, supposedly to reduce spending, and succeeded only in damaging both the nation’s credit rating and the economic recovery. Now they have declared their unwillingness to negotiate with a newly re-elected president, who won easily on the taxation issue. Although they held the majority, they actually lost seats and received fewer total votes than the House Democrats. But still they see no reason to deal with the president or acknowledge the national consensus.

Naturally, public anger at the Republicans is growing. But how furious would people feel if they fully understood this latest absurd episode on Capitol Hill? Boehner’s proposal was exceptionally generous to the wealthiest taxpayers – and mean to the poor and working families.

His Plan B would have extended the Bush tax cuts for their first million dollars of income; repealed a limit on tax deductions by the highest-income households; established a dividend tax rate of only 20 percent; and maintained an estate tax break for those same highest-income families worth an average $1.1 million. At the same time, according to the authoritative Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Boehner’s bill would have ended various tax credits for low-income and middle-income families, costing them roughly $25 billion a year and driving millions of American children into poverty.

But awful as that proposal was, it was deemed too liberal by the dominant faction in the Republican caucus. They found it so offensively decent, so treasonously moderate, that they made fools of their own leaders and themselves rather than let negotiations continue. (Their spending bill was even worse.)

The president is fortunate in his opposition, whose obstinacy and extremism may yet prevent him from making a terrible deal to damage Social Security or Medicare when neither is necessary. He wanted to make deal – very badly – but there is nobody with the competence or sanity with whom to make a deal, not even a raw deal.

Now Obama must explain clearly what has happened. Perhaps then voters will begin to draw the obvious conclusion – that this country’s problems cannot be addressed, let alone solved, until they remove these Republicans from power.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, December 21, 2012

December 21, 2012 Posted by | Budget | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“The Republican Winter Carnival”: Will John Boehner’s Speakership Survive Until Plan C?

Has there been a House speaker in modern American history with less control over his members than John Boehner?

Over the past three days, Boehner has focused all attention on “Plan B”: an effort to strengthen his hand in negotiations with President Obama by passing backup legislation that would extend the Bush tax cuts for all income under $1 million.

Tonight, Boehner lost that vote. In a dramatic turn of events on the House floor, he pulled the legislation. In a statement released moments ago, he said, “The House did not take up the tax measure today because it did not have sufficient support from our members to pass.” Boehner lost.

Plan A, which was a deal with Obama, was put on ice, many believe, because Boehner couldn’t wrangle the votes to pass anything Obama would sign. Plan B failed because Boehner couldn’t wrangle the Republican votes to pass something Obama had sworn he wouldn’t sign.

The failure of Plan B proved something important: Boehner doesn’t have enough Republican support to pass any bill that increases taxes — even one meant to block a larger tax increase — without a significant number of Democrats. The House has now adjourned until after Christmas, but it’s clear now what Plan C is going to have to be: Boehner is going to need to accept the simple reality that if he’s to be a successful speaker, he’s going to need to begin passing legislation with Democratic votes.

There’s an asterisk there, though: It’s not entirely clear whether Boehner will be the speaker of the House a month from today. The vote to elect the next speaker is on Jan. 3. To win, you need an absolute majority of the House, not a plurality. Even a hopeless conservative challenge that attracts only a handful of Republican votes could deny Boehner the speakership until a consensus candidate emerged. Tonight’s vote makes that challenge more likely.

A significant number of Boehner’s members clearly don’t trust his strategic instincts, they don’t feel personally bound to support him, they clearly disagree with his belief that tax rates must rise as part of a deal, and they, along with many other Republicans, must be humiliated after the shenanigans on the House floor this evening. Worse, they know that Boehner knows he’ll need Democratic support to get a budget deal done. That means “a cave,” at least from the perspective of the conservative bloc, is certain. That, too, will make a change of leadership appealing.

If a conservative spoiler runs, he or she could very possibly deny Boehner the 218 votes he needs to become speaker, clearing the way for a more moderate candidate like Eric Cantor to unite the party. It’s hard to say exactly how likely that is. But it’s likelier than it was, say, this morning.


By: Ezra Klein, The Washington Post, December 20, 2012

December 21, 2012 Posted by | Budget | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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