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

“The House Lunatic Caucus”: You’ll Never Please Them Speaker Ryan

Just when Speaker Ryan was probably thinking he’d mollified them with another symbolic vote to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood, the Republican lunatic caucus in the House speaks up to remind him that he’s on a short leash.

“It’s too early to judge the speakership of Paul Ryan and I think it is fundamentally unfair to try and judge the speakership of Paul Ryan over the last month or so. But, as I have also said, the honeymoon is over,” said Labrador, an Idaho Republican. “I think he needs to start putting up real conservative reform in the House and doing the things that are necessary to show the voters that he is a different speaker than John Boehner because frankly, everything he has done so far is no different than what John Boehner would have done.”…

He added, “The question is will Ryan be a good speech-maker or a good policy-maker…The question is not just can you deliver on the speech but can you deliver on the substance. The question is whether the Republican party is a conservative party or not. I’m afraid that so far we’ve shown that [the Republican Party] is not a conservative party.”

The implied threat contained in the statement, “everything he has done so far is no different than what John Boehner would have done,” is crystal clear. Labrador wants Ryan to know that unless they get what they want, they’ll do the same thing to him that they did to Boehner.

But if Ryan was actually paying attention for the last few years, what he’ll also know is that the lunatic caucus is famous for making unreasonable demands that no one in their right minds would ever go along with – and they don’t have a majority of votes in the House to get what they want. The only thing they DO have is the ability to threaten to blow shit up. Eventually Speaker Ryan will face the same thing Boehner did – you’ll never please them. And then what?

It’s too bad that a Republican Speaker can’t/won’t tell these lunatics to bugger off. But then, that’s exactly the same problem the Republican establishment is facing with the candidacy of Donald Trump, isn’t it? They created this monster as an alternative to actually governing after the 2008 election and it just keeps turning on them.


By: Nancy LeTourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, January 8, 2016

January 11, 2016 Posted by | Establishment Republicans, House Republican Caucus, Paul Ryan | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Don’t Call Us; We’ll Call You”: When The Far-Right Isn’t Far-Right Enough

For about four decades, far-right members of Congress have enjoyed a special group separate from the Republican mainstream. It’s called the Republican Study Committee and it’s always been home to the House’s most rigid ideologues and reactionary voices. The faction even releases its own budget plan, and in recent years, has deemed Paul Ryan’s blueprint as far too moderate.

The group has even offered something of a gauge for the party’s overall direction – the larger the RSC’s membership, the more obvious it was that House Republicans had been radicalized.

Now, however, some far-right Republicans have decided some of their brethren just aren’t far-right enough. Politico reported yesterday afternoon:

More than a dozen of the House’s most conservative lawmakers will splinter from the decades-old Republican Study Committee to form a new organization designed to push the GOP caucus to the right.

The currently unnamed group will be led by Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Raúl Labrador of Idaho, sources involved with the planning said, and will probably include 30 or more Republicans – many of them among the most vocal critics of GOP leadership.

Jordan, it’s worth noting, is the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee. In other words, he’s leaving his own group to form an even-more-conservative entity.

At last count, the RSC listed 173 members – that’s more than two-thirds of the entire House Republican conference – while this new faction had 37 conservative lawmakers at their inaugural meeting earlier this week.

In an amazing twist, National Journal added that this group will be “invitation-only.” For those who may not be familiar with these Capitol Hill membership groups, ideological caucuses usually encourage lawmakers to join. Indeed, the whole point is to grow in the hopes of wielding more influence.

But for these far-right Republicans, the message seems to be, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.”

Of course, all of this helps bolster the larger point: in the wake of a successful election cycle, Republican divisions are a genuine problem.

As the Republican Study Committee breakup shows – on the heels of the failed revolt against Speaker Boehner last week – some of the schisms are within House Republicans. At the same time, as Brian Beutler noted overnight, some of the divisions are also between the Senate GOP and the House GOP: they’re already on very different tracks on issues related to immigration, Homeland Security funding, and even a possible gas-tax hike.

Politico added this morning, “More often than not, House and Senate Republicans seem like they come from different parties, if not different planets.”

With a bruising 2015 just getting underway, Republicans are heading to a two-day retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to see if they can get in sync on their policy priorities – but more important, their expectations.

“It’s time to air the differences, see how big they are and hopefully find the common ground,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who served in the House for 14 years. “There’s no downside to it. It’s kind of the peak and then things disintegrate afterwards. This will be the moment of unity.”

Well, maybe.

For what it’s worth, I think it’s best not to overstate the nature of the intra-party schisms. For all intents and purposes, there are only a small handful of actual Republican moderates left on Capitol Hill – and by historical standards, they’re really not especially “moderate” – and the arguments within the party aren’t especially substantive. Rather, the fight is over tone, tactics, and strategy. The overwhelming majority of congressional Republicans want roughly the same thing; they just disagree over how to get there and whether certain destinations are realistic.

But as we’re seeing, those disagreements obviously matter, and as members sit down for a collective chat this week, the tensions are likely to fester.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 14, 2015

January 15, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, GOP, House Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“More Of The Orange Man”: Boehner “Leads” By Anticipating Exactly How Much Rope His Caucus Will Give Him

House Republicans are having them some leadership elections today, with Kevin McCarthy considered sure to overcome Raul Labrador for the defenestrated Eric Cantor’s Majority Leader position, while three members (Steve Scalise, Peter Roskam and Marlin Stutzman) compete for McCarthy’s Whip position. Scalise, currently chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee, is considered the front-runner in that race.

But the consequence of Cantor’s demise that hasn’t made much news is that it will likely keep John Boehner in place for another two years. Carl Hulse of the New York Times has that story:

Significant uncertainty had remained about whether the man who has led the House since 2011 would run again for speaker, given his frustrations with his own members and some of their very public frustration with him. Allies said Mr. Boehner himself might not have known what he would ultimately do.

But Mr. Cantor’s abrupt departure from the leadership quickly put to rest any talk of Mr. Boehner’s retirement.

Members of Mr. Boehner’s circle said they immediately made clear to the speaker that he could no longer even consider stepping down, since doing so would leave the fractious House Republican conference without its top two leaders and with an extremely short list of colleagues able to fill that void.

The day after Mr. Cantor’s loss, Mr. Boehner told his colleagues that he intended to run again for speaker, and the declaration was met by many with relief. The shake-up has strengthened his hand in many respects, giving him stronger control of the agenda.

“Now he really is the indispensable man,” Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said.

Yeah, but one who often “leads” by anticipating exactly how much rope his caucus will give him. I’m sure the president will be thrilled to learn that absent some electoral tsunami in November, the Orange Man, smelling slightly of nicotine and brimstone, will be sitting behind him for yet another State of the Union address next January.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington MOnthly Political Animal, June 19, 2014

June 20, 2014 Posted by | House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“More Problems Than Just The Tea Party”: Too Much Attention Being Paid To The Gladiator TV Hard Core “Stars” Of The Republican Party

I am not talking about poll numbers. I am not talking about the Republicans’ record unpopularity. I am not talking about declining support for the tea party. I am not even talking about election results.

I am focusing on the following numbers: 85, 49, 87 and 87 again.

Those are not Powerball numbers … well, in a sense maybe they are!

What are they? These are the “YES” votes from Republican members of the House of Representatives on four pieces of legislation that Speaker John Boehner brought to the floor of the House, ignoring the Hastert rule. That, of course, is the rather absurd self-imposed rule that says you shouldn’t bring up a bill if it does not have majority support from your caucus.

Here are the bills:

  • 85 Republican votes to approve the fiscal cliff deal at the end of 2012.
  • 49 Republican votes to approve emergency funding for hurricane Sandy.
  • 87 Republican votes to approve extending the Violence Against Women Act.
  • 87 Republican votes to approve opening the government this week.

Combined with nearly unanimous support from Democrats, all these bills passed.

Now, that meant that 151 votes, 179 votes, 138 votes and 144 votes were cast against these four bills, respectively, by Republican House members.

The point here is that the problem with Republicans is not just several dozen Tea Party activists – it is a caucus that won’t truly stand up to those extreme elements of the party. Too much attention is being paid to the gladiator TV hard core “stars” of the Republican Party such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee and Reps. Raul Labrador, Michele Bachmann, Steve King and a handful of others.

They have somehow convinced the House Republican caucus that the best way to take on Obama and the Democrats is scorched earth.

The real question now is whether the pragmatic, reasoned, responsible gene present in many Republican House members will assert itself. Will they negotiate bills on fiscal matters, immigration reform, entitlements and taxes that lead to progress? Or will they let the tea party members role them over and over again?

The hope for many is that this horrendous shutdown and brinkmanship may have taken many members to the edge – they see the absurdity and suicidal nature of the action – and they are ready to stand up to the extremists within their own party. When we start seeing the numbers switch and  more than 100 Republican members begin to accept reasonable legislation then we will know that they are no longer going to kow-tow to the Tea Party. We can all hope for that day.


By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, October 18, 2013

October 21, 2013 Posted by | Republicans, Tea Party | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The President’s Pivot”: The Tactical Move To Immigration Reform Is Brilliant, And Republicans Know It

“Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.”

That quote, from Sun Tzu’s ancient Chinese treatise “The Art of War,” perfectly captures President Obama’s strategic victory over Tea Party members of Congress on the government shutdown and the debt ceiling debate. It also explains his immediate pivot to another topic that Tea Partyers hate and over which their obstinacy is likely to get the party hammered again: comprehensive immigration reform.

This is a brilliant tactical move on the president’s part. And Republicans know it.

As the G.O.P. was nearing its moment of collapse on the shutdown and debt ceiling, Representative Raúl Labrador, Republican of Idaho, said, “I think it’d be crazy for the House Republican leadership to enter into negotiations with him on immigration.” He continued: “And I’m a proponent of immigration reform. So I think what he’s done over the last two and a half weeks — he’s trying to destroy the Republican Party. And I think that anything we do right now with this president on immigration will be with that same goal in mind: which is to try to destroy the Republican Party and not to get good policies.”

The conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer laid out the president’s calculus more bluntly on Fox News: “With immigration, he wins either way. I’m not sure he thinks he can get it passed, seeing the resistance among the Republicans to the deal over the budget. I think he knows he’s not going to have a good chance of getting immigration through, but he thinks — and he’s probably right — that he can exploit this for the midterm election as a way to gin up support, for the Democrats to portray the Republicans as anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, etc.”

Republicans have a tough choice.

They can ride shotgun once again with the politically suicidal Tea Party faction, a group that the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found this week to be “less popular than ever.” They can allow the most strident voices on the far right that oppose comprehensive immigration reform — Rush Limbaugh has likened it to the Republican Party’s “authoring its demise” — to direct their path and further alienate Hispanic voters, who are increasingly coming to see the party as an unwelcoming place. Mitt Romney lost the Hispanic vote by 44 points last year, and the Republican National Committee’s own autopsy on that loss surmised:

“If Hispanic Americans perceive that a G.O.P. nominee or candidate does not want them in the United States (i.e., self-deportation), they will not pay attention to our next sentence. It does not matter what we say about education, jobs or the economy; if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

Or Republicans can take the less likely path and demonstrate that they’ve been cowed enough to move ahead on a major piece of legislation that is supported by the majority of the American people — a July Gallup poll found that 71 percent of Americans believe that passing immigration reform is important. And that would be good not just for the president’s legacy but for the health of the country as a whole.

In a 2012 paper published by the Cato Institute, Raúl Hinojosa Ojeda, director of the North American Integration and Development Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, used computing models to estimate the following:

“Comprehensive immigration reform generates an annual increase in U.S. G.D.P. of at least 0.84 percent. This amounts to $1.5 trillion in additional G.D.P. over 10 years. It also boosts wages for both native-born and newly legalized immigrant workers.”

Comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing and the thing that Americans want. But the far right is hardly concerned with what’s right and has little appetite for agreeing with the will of the majority of the American people (despite talking ad nauseam about standing up for the American people).

The far right is angry at the government and the man at the top of it. According to a Pew Research report released Friday: “Anger at the federal government is most pronounced among Tea Party Republicans. Fully 55 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party say they are angry with the federal government — about double the percentage among non-Tea Party Republicans (27 percent) and Democrats and Democratic leaners (25 percent).”

They have been blinded by that anger. The president knows that. And he knows that blind soldiers don’t often win battles. In choosing to pivot to immigration reform, he has created a win-win scenario for himself and the Democrats. Clever, clever.


By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, October 18, 2013

October 20, 2013 Posted by | Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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