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“Obstruction And Destruction”: Republicans Will Be Destroyed If The Far Right Keeps Clinging To Its Unachievable Agenda

While Washington waits to see who the next speaker of the House of Representatives will be, the far right seems to be doing everything in its power to destroy the Republican Party.

When current Speaker John Boehner announced at the end of September that he would retire, he said that he did so because the controversy surrounding his leadership wasn’t good for his party. Other Republican leaders called on House Republicans to work on “healing and unifying” in the wake of the leadership upset. Unfortunately, the opposite is happening, and the badly needed party unity looks like it may be an elusive goal.

Instead of working with party stalwarts to find common ground, the far right continues to campaign against candidates for speaker they consider to be too “establishment.” The New York Times reported that their latest target is Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Boehner’s current draft pick to run for the House’s top spot. Ryan hasn’t even decided if he will enter the race yet, but is already being criticized for being “too liberal.” Ryan’s positions on immigration and his past work to find consensus on fiscal issues seem to be the cause for the ire against him.

The criticism is misplaced and calls into question the intentions of those who are lobbing it. Ryan has long been one of the most conservative members of the House. Additionally, as the vice presidential nominee in 2012, he was standard bearer for his party. To categorize Ryan as “too liberal” for his party’s conservative base is a bridge too far.

As Rep Tom Cole, R-Okla., told the Times, “Anyone who attacks Paul Ryan as being insufficiently conservative is either woefully misinformed or maliciously destructive. Paul Ryan has played a major role in advancing the conservative cause and creating the Republican House majority. His critics are not true conservatives. They are radical populists who neither understand nor accept the institutions, procedures and traditions that are the basis of constitutional governance.”

It would appear that the goals of the far right are not governance, but rather obstruction and disruption. Without fail, it has consistently pursued policy goals for which there is no likelihood of consensus and has viewed any type of compromise as a defeat and a betrayal of conservative causes. This stance is not realistic in a democratic government, nor is it responsible. The far right forgets that the foundation of democracy is based on compromise and that the principal job of a member of Congress is to participate in activities that keep the government operational. Threatening government shutdowns and turning the House into a chaotic mess because the most conservative members don’t get their way is an abdication of this basic duty.

That’s bad for the American people who elected them, but even worse for the Republican majority that’s trying to govern them. The far right’s obstructionist activities have made their party look divided and ineffective. It’s possible that their interference with the speaker’s race could leave the party in an even more vulnerable position without an effective leader. If the party can’t “heal and unify,” as its current leaders have suggested it should, how can it move forward?

Politico reported that Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said the far-right movement isn’t about pushing conservative ideals, but rather about changing the way the House works. If that’s truly the case, Ryan’s idealism shouldn’t matter. In reality, it seems the far right is more interested in pursuing its unachievable policy agenda at any cost. And while that may seem like good politics right now, it may ultimately be the party’s undoing.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, October 16, 2015

October 18, 2015 Posted by | Conservatives, House Republicans, Paul Ryan, Speaker of The House of Representatives | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“I Won Both Of Them”: If Republicans Dish It Out, They Have To Be Prepared To Get It Back

The substance of a presidential address always matters more than the theatrics. That said, I imagine most observers would agree one specific moment from President Obama’s speech last night was one of the more memorable of any recent State of the Union address.

Towards the end of his remarks, Obama took an almost contemplative turn, telling the audience, “I have no more campaigns to run.” Some Republicans responded with derisive applause, prompting the president to depart from his prepared remarks.

“I know, because I won both of them,” Obama said with a sly smile.

For a few moments, I felt like I was watching a “Key & Peele” sketch and the president briefly became Luther, his “anger translator.”

Not surprisingly, the moment garnered quite a bit of attention.

Facebook’s policy team provided msnbc with data on the most talked-about topics and moments during the Obama’s oratory. The most viral moment of the State of the Union address, according to Facebook? That moment when President Obama said “I have no more campaigns to run,” was interrupted by partisan cheers, and shot back: “I know, because I won both of them.”

TPM’s Sahil Kapur was on Capitol Hill last night, and apparently, congressional Republicans didn’t appreciate the president’s not-so-subtle jab.

“Probably not helpful when you rub the other guy’s nose in the dirt a little bit,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), a close ally of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), told reporters. […]

Senate Energy Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said Obama’s remarks did not make her feel “warm and fuzzy” about having to work with him for the next two years. […]

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), No. 4 in House GOP leadership, told TPM she was “disappointed” in the president when asked about the swipe.

Their “disappointment” strikes me as wildly misplaced – if Republicans can dish it out, they have to be prepared for the president to give it back. It was GOP lawmakers who decided to interrupt the speech with applause when Obama said he has no more campaigns to run. Can they really blame him for throwing a fastball of his own in their direction?

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 21, 2015

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Congress, GOP, State of the Union | , , , | Leave a comment

“The Disappointment Must Be Crushing”: ‘He’s Wanted To Be A Historically Significant Speaker’

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who’s unlikely to face a credible opponent when he seeks another term early next year, will soon lead a massive majority. The current House GOP caucus is pretty significant, but thanks to some modest gains in this year’s midterms, Boehner will soon sit atop a party with 247 House seats, the most for Republicans since the Great Depression.

But the New York Times noted the other day that there’s uncertainty lurking behind the numbers.

[W]hat he is able to do with that power will determine whether he is remembered as something more than the House leader during a stretch of frustrating gridlock and deep partisanship.

“He’s never wanted to just be Speaker,” said Representative Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican and a close ally. “He’s wanted to be a historically significant Speaker.”

The quote surprised me a bit. Several years ago, before the Ohio Republican was elevated to his current post, a friend of mine who works on Capitol Hill told me, “John Boehner cares about three things: cutting taxes, playing golf, and smoking cigarettes – and not necessarily in that order.”

Boehner, the argument went, didn’t have grand ambitions about becoming a historically significant figure. He welcomed promotions and leadership posts, but it was widely assumed that he saw the stature and prestige as their own rewards. In this vision of Boehner, we see a guy who didn’t intend to leave an imposing legacy – there would be no buildings named after him following his tenure.

But Tom Cole, one of Boehner’s closest allies, suggests this perception is all wrong. This Speaker actually does care about his place in history and he wants to be seen as a success.

Which in some ways makes the last four years something of a tragedy.

If Boehner set out to be a historically significant Speaker, he succeeded in the worst possible way: Congress, at least since the Civil War, has never been quite this dysfunctional. Congress has never failed quite so spectacularly to complete routine tasks. Congress never, in rapid succession, threatened to trash the full faith and credit of the United States, then repeatedly threatened to shut down the government, following through in one ridiculous case.

The most notable aspect of Boehner’s record is a complete inability to lead his own members and govern effectively. When this Speaker manages to pass spending measures that keep the government’s lights on, much of the country considers it a minor miracle, thanks entirely to the soft bigotry of low expectations.

After four years with the gavel, Boehner’s total of major legislative accomplishments remains stuck at … zero. Simon Maloy noted yesterday, “His record of leadership to date is defined almost entirely by its reflexive opposition to the president, and in the process he’s helped turn Congress into a dysfunctional morass in which elected representatives don’t actually know how to do their jobs.”

It didn’t have to be this way. There have been any number of opportunities for Boehner to tackle real legislative initiatives – up to and including immigration reform, which the Speaker promised to act on before he broke his word – and just as many chances to sit down with President Obama to strike meaningful compromises.

But Boehner, fearful of far-right revolts and members who ignore his attempts at leadership, has generally been loath to even try. If he genuinely “wanted to be a historically significant Speaker,” the disappointment must be crushing.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, December 2, 2014

December 4, 2014 Posted by | Congress, House Republicans, John Boehner | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Crafting Bills Designed To Fail”: The House Republican Tantrum That Knows No End

The New York Times published a helpful chart the other day, which highlighted a nine-step process Congress would have to follow this week to avoid a government shutdown. As it happens, steps one through eight were completed with relative ease.

It was that ninth step that gave lawmakers trouble.

House Republicans not only gathered on a weekend to take a vote that moves the government even closer to a shutdown, they did it in the dead of night.

The Republican-controlled House voted around midnight on Saturday to keep the government open for a few more months in exchange for punting the rollout of Obamacare for a year — the kind of shot at the health care law conservatives had wanted for weeks, even if it’s sure to be rejected by the Democratic-controlled Senate.

By all appearances, House Republicans are now actively seeking a government shutdown, specifically aiming for their goal rather than making any effort to avoid it. Indeed, the unhinged House majority appears to have gone out of its way to craft a spending bill designed to fail.

The bill approved after midnight would deny health care benefits to millions of American families for a year, add to the deficit by repealing a medical-device tax industry lobbyists urged Republicans to scrap, and in a fascinating twist, make it harder for Americans to get birth control. As the New York Times report noted, “The delay included a provision favored by social conservatives that would allow employers and health care providers to opt out of mandatory contraception coverage.”

Yes, in the midst of a budget crisis, the House GOP decided it was time to go after birth control again. Wow.

Senate leaders and the White House patiently tried to explain to radicalized House Republicans that voting for this would all but guarantee a government shutdown — so House Republicans voted for it en masse.

In fact, take a look at the roll call. Jonathan Bernstein asked on Friday, “Where are the sane House Republicans?” That question was answered quite clearly last night: literally every GOP lawmaker in the chamber voted for their government-shutdown plan. There were zero defections.

This was not, in other words, an isolated tantrum thrown by an extremist faction of a once-great political party. This was rather an organized tantrum thrown by the entirety of the House Republican caucus.

Keep in mind, I use the word “tantrum” largely because Republicans told me to. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in July, “Shutting down the government to get your way over an unrelated piece of legislation is the political equivalent of throwing a temper tantrum. It is just not helpful.”

Last night, Cole linked arms with his fellow conservatives and joined them as they jumped off the cliff together. Apparently, he discovered his affinity for tantrums over the last couple of months.

Also note, we know with certainty Speaker Boehner didn’t want this scenario. It was just earlier this month that he presented a proposal that would have avoided all of this, precisely because he didn’t want to end up where we are now. But the Speaker, who has little influence or control over what happens in his own chamber, simply lacked the courage and the strength to govern responsibly.

What happens now is less clear. The Senate could reconvene today, reject the House bill, and urge House Republicans to act like grown-ups tomorrow — the last day before Monday night’s shutdown deadline. Or more likely, the upper chamber will gather in the morning, try to pass the same bill senators passed on Friday, and leave the House with just hours to keep the government’s lights on.

Either way, House Republicans continue to fail at completing even the most basic of tasks. The public doesn’t expect much of Congress anymore, but most seem to believe lawmakers should be able to keep the government’s doors open.

As things stand, that now appears unlikely.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, September 29, 2013

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Congress, Government Shut Down | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Diary Of A Legislative Terrorist”: Ted Cruz Goes Nuclear Against His Own Party To Save His Own Skin

After months of attempting to tie the continued funding of the government to his demand that the Affordable Care Act be demolished, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is now coming face to face with what happens to demagogues who write political checks they can never hope to cash—and it isn’t pretty.

With a strategy that is now crumbling beneath his feet, it is all too clear that Ted Cruz made one heck of a miscalculation—one that promises to put an end to a budding political career that many believed would lead all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

So, how did it happen?

It began with Mr. Cruz placing a populist bet that he could use the August town hall season to change the math on Capitol Hill while enlisting millions to his ultimate cause—his candidacy to become President of the United States in 2016.

As the Texas Senator likely saw it, he could swoop in on the gatherings of like-minded, adoring members of his base and, by using the media to spread his message, convince watching independents that the Affordable Care act was so detrimental to the nation’s future that there was no legislative action—no matter how radical or extreme—that should be avoided in the quest to rid the country of the scourge of healthcare reform.

If Cruz’s efforts somehow succeeded beyond what most would have viewed as a rational expectation and the Senator was able to force enough Republican votes—and maybe even a few Democratic votes—to his way of thinking, Cruz would be portrayed as a great and heroic warrior.

This would be true even if there were, ultimately, insufficient votes for Cruz to win the battle.

And if his fellow Republicans in the Senate chose not to go along with his tactics, the Senator would, at the least, depart the town hall circuit with pockets full of publicity and legions of adoring minions who would henceforth view him as a great leader willing to fall on his own sword while appearing to bravely ignore his own political future if that is what it took to save his country from the evils of Obamacare.

It wasn’t a completely insane gambit.

The problem, however, was that Cruz’s entire strategy was dependent upon his expectation that the majority of Americans who continue to dislike the Affordable Care Act (and they do) would be willing to support a government shutdown brought about by Cruz’s effort to tie the destruction of Obamacare to the continuing operations of government.

That is where it all began to fall apart.

It turns out that, while the majority of Americans may continue to view Obamacare with a jaundiced eye, they are not at all prepared to accept Cruz’s radical, ‘take no prisoners’ approach as a solution.

With right-leaning publications like “Hot Air” screaming headlines like  “Republican poll: Public opposed to a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare, including Republicans”, it began to dawn on the Texas Senator that he had made a serious miscalculation and that being credited with causing a shutdown was not going to be the political bonus he had anticipated.

Cruz reacted as might be expected—he began looking for a way to squirm out of his predicament. Immediately, he turned to boldly stating that any government shutdown would not be his fault—but rather the fault of the President.

Why? Because while he had initially perceived getting the credit for a shutdown to be a good thing, the data revealed he had badly judged the intent of the public. Therefore, he had to find a way to continue his plan while pushing the blame of shutdown to the other side—a tall order leaving Cruz to employ a deeply flawed logic that could only appeal to the lowest of low-information voters when attempting to sell us on the idea that this would all be Obama’s fault.

But having discovered the great flaw in his grand design, Cruz really had nowhere else to go.

If you, somehow, remain unclear as to the absurdity of Cruz’s attempt to argue that a shutdown would fall on the shoulders of the White House, consider that this logic would be akin to someone pointing a gun to the head of your puppy before turning to you and demanding that, if you want to save your hapless pooch, you must hand over to him your child’s entire college fund which you have been contributing to for some twenty years.

When you, understandably, refuse to make the trade—despite the fact that you could give the perpetrator the entire fund and deny your child her dreams for the future in order to save the pup—the perpetrator follows through on his terrible deed and then blames you for the death of the poor little puppy. Why? Because he gave you the chance to save the dog’s life and it was within your power to do so, no matter how repugnant. Never mind that the perpetrator had no right to put your dog’s life into the balance in the first place.

Thus, by Cruz’s logic, because the President will not destroy his own law, duly passed by Congress, signed into law by that President and adjudicated legal by the United States Supreme Court, and all because a first term Senator and a few of his friends demand he do so, the fault for the resulting threatened punishment is on the President —not on Cruz himself.

There were additional flaws in Ted Cruz’s grand plan.

Faced with a public that does not favor closing up government in order to extract the end of the President’s signature legislation, the likelihood of persuading Cruz’s fellow Republicans in the Senate to go along with his strategy drops to near zero. While it was always a pipedream to imagine that there would ever have been enough votes in the Senate to make Cruz’s dreams of Obamacare defunding come true—even if a majority of voters supported the notion—without a public hunger for extreme measures, any hope Cruz might have harbored for Senate support were—and are–doomed.

And if, by some miracle, Cruz could use public sentiment to turn enough Democrats and Republicans in the Senate to his way of thinking, hell would freeze over before the President of the United States would go along with any continuing resolution that includes the destruction of his own, signature legislation.

As Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) put it, “It’s awfully hard to repeal Obamacare when a guy named Obama is President.”

While Senator Cruz certainly would have relished an ultimate victory that included defunding Obamacare, he surely knew this was an unlikely result to his campaign. But his true objective, despite his falsely courageous protestations otherwise, was never to actually pull off the death of Obamacare—rather, his objective was to portray himself as a committed leader who was willing and able to single-handedly shut down the government in a greater cause. Cruz was placing this bet in the belief that were he to earn the credit for a government shutdown over the Obamacare issue, he would become a true hero in the hearts and minds not only of the Republican base—but the millions of independent Americans who both object to Obamacare and would not be personally affected by a shuttering of the government.

Who knew the public would show such disdain for Cruz’s tactics?

Realizing that Cruz had put his penchant for demagoguery ahead of the fortunes of his own party, key Republican leaders, both inside and outside of government, began to speak up and to do so loudly.

Karl Rove published an op-ed taking Cruz—and other Republicans who would favor a shutdown—to task for being willing to inflict the serious political damage such an action would cause the Republican Party. As for the elected ‘insiders’, we’ve learned that Fox Fox News Sunday talk show host Chris Wallace was flooded with reams of opposition research aimed at Cruz as Wallace prepared for yesterday’s show—all of which was provided by Republicans!

Ted Cruz’s response to his massive failure?

Speaking during his appearance on the Fox Sunday show, Cruz said—

“Any vote for cloture, any vote to allow Harry Reid to add funding to Obamacare with just a 51-vote threshold, a vote for cloture is a vote for Obamacare. And I think Senate Republicans are going to stand side-by-side with Speaker [John] Boehner and House Republicans, listening to the people and stopping this train wreck that is Obamacare.”

What that means is that Ted Cruz now plans on taking his party down with him by using a procedural tactic in the Senate that would brand any Republican voting for cloture—thereby agreeing to send the House bill to a vote of the Senate where it will surely be defeated—as a ‘supporter’ of Obamacare.

And if the Senate Republicans were to buckle to Cruz and refuse to vote in favor of cloture, the House Bill will remain stalled in the Senate and the government will shut down with the Republicans clearly taking all the blame.

Either way, Cruz has now created a lose-lose scenario for his Republican colleagues in the Senate that either brings an unwanted government shutdown or invites a never-ending flurry of primary challenges to his GOP cohorts…and all to save whatever credibility Ted Cruz might still be hanging onto with a narrow slice of the GOP base.

All of this brings us to one, inescapable conclusion…Ted Cruz is desperate.

How bad is it?

As one House GOP aide put it, “Nancy Pelosi is more well-liked around here.”

Ouch.

 

By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 23, 2013

September 24, 2013 Posted by | Government Shut Down | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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