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

“The Votes Boehner Didn’t Deliver”: And Therein Lies The Problem, Republicans Didn’t Really Do Their Part

After this afternoon’s drama in the U.S. House, Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) office issued an interesting statement, effectively saying, “Don’t look at me.”

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement after the House failed to pass legislation reauthorizing the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program:

“The outcome of today’s TAA vote was disappointing. Republicans did our part, and we remain committed to free trade because it is critical to creating jobs and growing our economy. I’m pleased that a bipartisan House majority supported trade promotion authority. This is an opportunity for the Democratic Party to take stock and move forward in a constructive fashion on behalf of the American people.”

The assertion that Boehner was disappointed by the TAA vote, but “Republicans did our part,” stands out. Strictly speaking, it’s not quite right.

Here’s the roll call on today’s vote on Trade Adjustment Assistance. Notice, 86 House Republicans voted for it, while 158 voted against it. Had the House GOP voted for the measure in greater numbers, “fast track” would be on its way to President Obama’s desk for a signature right now.

And therein lies the point: Republicans didn’t really do their part, so much as they voted for the part of the package they like (Trade Promotion Authority) and voted against the part of the package they don’t like (Trade Adjustment Assistance).

Clearly, the principal focus today is on House Democrats, and for good reason – President Obama made a direct appeal to his ostensible allies today, and few of them were swayed.

But let’s be clear about the broader dynamic: House Democrats are in the minority. In fact, it’s the smallest Democratic minority in the chamber in generations, and it’s not really up to them to decide what passes and what doesn’t.

Over at Vox, Timothy B. Lee had a good piece on this under-appreciated angle to the politics of the trade fight.

In principle, most Republicans are in favor of the president’s trade agenda…. But most House Republicans weren’t willing to spend the $450 million per year contemplated by the Senate bill on Trade Adjustment Assistance. That’s why House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) was forced to resort to a complicated scheme where Democrats would have to approve TAA while Republicans approved the rest of the bill.

If you buy the arguments for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which many Republicans profess to, this seems crazy. One influential study from the Peterson Institute estimated that the trade deal would generate $78 billion of economic benefits for the United States. Of course it’s worth taking this kind of projection with a grain of salt. But even if we assume it’s exaggerated by a factor of 10, the deal’s benefits still dwarf the $450 million annual price tag of TAA.

And yet, Boehner barely tried to get TAA through his chamber today, and he mustered up just 86 votes.

In fairness, that’s still more than double the number of Democratic votes the White House was able to secure, so it’s not as if Obama is in a position to call up the Speaker and complain. For that matter, it’s possible Boehner will pull together more votes early next week.

But as the dust settles on today’s fight, and as Round II takes shape on Tuesday, let’s not forget that Boehner is supposed to have great influence over what clears the House, and if he supports “fast track” as much as he claims, he can do some heavy lifting – or at least try to.

Lee’s report concluded, accurately, “[I]f the TPP collapses, they’ll bear some of the blame.”


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, June 12, 2015

June 13, 2015 Posted by | John Boehner, Republicans, Trade Promotion Authority, Trans Pacific Partnership | , , , | Leave a comment

“Norquistism”: Republican Zeal Runs Amok

To watch Republicans in action today, in Washington and in legislatures around the country, is to be reminded of Casey Stengel’s amazed query to the 1962 Mets, whom he had the cosmic misfortune to manage: “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

In California, in Minnesota and here on Capitol Hill, Republican legislators in divided governments seem incapable of taking half or even three-fourths of a loaf — of recognizing when they’ve won. By holding out for more when they’ve already attained plenty, they run the risk of coming away with nothing for themselves or inflicting avoidable calamity on everyone else. As Daniel Bell once said of American socialists, they act as if they’re in but not of the world.

In California, for instance, where Republicans hold just over a third of the seats in each legislative house — enough to block any tax increase, which requires two-thirds support — Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown told reporters on June 16 that he was willing to submit to voters proposals to reduce both state pensions and business regulations if Republican lawmakers agreed to let voters also decide whether to extend some tax increases. Brown’s goal was to avoid having to cut more deeply into spending on schools, universities and medical care. California businesses, which have complained of overregulation for decades, were hot for the deal, but the

Republicans refused to budge. In consequence, in the state budget passed last week, without the tax extensions, the state’s public universities will have to raise tuition roughly 10 percent (on top of another 10 percent increase that will take effect in September); and the poor will pay more for medical care. Pensions and regulations will remain unrevised.

What makes the California Republicans’ intransigence so loony — “idiotic” is, I think, not too strong a term — is that they are likely to lose legislative seats as soon as next year as a result of redistricting, and they are sure to lose legislative seats over the next decade because of their ongoing estrangement of the state’s Latino voters. When Republicans drop beneath one-third representation in the statehouse, Democrats will be able to raise taxes without their support. In other words, this may well have been Republicans’ last chance to extract concessions they considered vital. And they blew it off.

What we have here is an extreme world view — let’s call it Norquistism — that ensures impasse, paralysis or perverse outcomes whenever control of government is divided. It’s the doctrine preached by GOP activist and lobbyist Grover Norquist, who trots around the country collecting pledges from GOP candidates and elected officials that commit them to never, ever raise taxes, no matter what they may be offered in return. In Minnesota, a state with a Democratic governor and a Republican legislature, Gov. Mark Dayton sought to raise taxes on only the relative handful of Minnesotans with annual incomes in excess of $1 million. The legislature opposed that, insisting on cuts (including to services for those with disabilities) that Dayton wouldn’t countenance. Absent a budget, most state services in Minnesota closed down on July 1; it’s not clear when, or how, some compromise can be reached to reopen the state.

In the nation’s capital, Republicans also seem to have lost their capacity for compromise — even when that compromise looks to be a GOP victory. Senate Republicans, for instance, have been urging President Obama since before he took office to finalize three trade accords — with South Korea, Colombia and Panama — and bring them before Congress. Obama has now done so, asking in return only that Republicans approve the renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program that aids workers who lose their jobs as a result of these kinds of trade deals. But Republicans are balking — boycotting last week’s meeting of the Senate Finance Committee at which these treaties were to be taken up — because they don’t like TAA. This is hardly a major program, mind you, but the GOP’s loathing of any program that provides government assistance to workers (who really shouldn’t need any assistance, as free trade is good for us all) has eclipsed its long-term commitment to American corporate priorities.

When zeal runs amok, the sense of proportion suffers. Today’s Republicans remind me of some leaders of the American Communist Party whom I got to know decades ago, after they’d left the fold. “We believed in the party line, in its infallibility, so completely,” one ex-commie told me, “that we’d forget the larger strategy for the momentary tactic.” So it was with Communists of yore; so it is with Republicans today.

By: Harold Meyerson, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 5, 2011

July 8, 2011 Posted by | Businesses, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Economic Recovery, Economy, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Governors, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, State Legislatures, States, Tax Loopholes, Taxes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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