“Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace on Sunday quizzed House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) on his decision to invite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress.
Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting the White House, leading numerous congressional Democrats to boycott the speech.
“Haven’t you taken one of the few bipartisan issues in this country — support for Israel — and turned it into a political football?” Wallace asked.
“I have not. The fact is that we had every right to do what we did,” Boehner responded. “I wanted the prime minister to come here. There’s a serious threat facing the world. And radical Islamic terrorists are not going to go away.”
“And then when it comes to the threat of Iran having a nuclear weapon, these are important messages that the Congress needs to here and the American people need to hear,” the speaker continued. “And I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu is the perfect person to deliver the message of how serious this threat is.”
Wallace then pointed out that Boehner asked Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., not to tell the White House about the joint meeting with Netanyahu.
“Why would you do that?” Wallace asked.
“Because I wanted to make sure that there was no interference. There’s no secret here in Washington about the animosity that this White House has for Prime Minister Netanyahu. I frankly didn’t want that getting in the way, quashing what I thought was a real opportunity,” Boehner responded.
Wallace challenged Boehner, commenting that the invitation created controversy.
“Shouldn’t the relationship between the U.S. and Israel be outside of politics?” he asked.
“It’s an important message that the American people need to hear. I’m glad that he’s coming, and I’m looking forward to what he has to say,” Boehner responded.
If the goal of House Speaker John Boehner asking Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress in early March was to undermine the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran, well, that backfired — at least in the short term. On Tuesday, a key group of Senate Democrats, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez “told the White House they will hold their fire on Iran sanctions until March 24, taking pressure off the Obama administration as it seeks to complete negotiations about the country’s nuclear program,” NBC’s Frank Thorp reports. The reason why it backfired: By scheduling the speech without the White House’s blessing — plus two weeks before Israel’s own elections — it came across as entirely political. And it ultimately turned into Democratic-vs.-Republican fight. “Israel has been, for several decades, a bipartisan cause in Washington,” the Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg writes. But he adds that Netanyahu’s poor relationship with Obama — including this most recent end-run around the White House — alienates Democratic lawmakers (“One Jewish member of Congress told me that he felt humiliated and angered by Netanyahu’s ploy to address Congress ‘behind the president’s back'”) and American Jews (who overwhelmingly voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012).
Bibi is now getting blowback at home
And the New York Times writes that Netanyahu is now getting some serious blowback at home with the elections coming up. “Yehuda Ben Meir, an expert on public opinion at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said surveys had consistently shown that Israelis see a decrease in American support and a nuclear-armed Iran ‘as the two most serious threats, almost equal in severity.’ Israelis are highly critical of Mr. Obama, and may appreciate Mr. Netanyahu’s standing up to him, but losing congressional Democrats, Mr. Ben Meir said, would play differently. ‘Most people in Israel feel or think or believe that mainly this was done for internal political reasons,’ Mr. Ben Meir said. ‘His base may say he went because of the Iranian issue, but those swing voters – and what’s important is always the swing vote – it could among certain parts of the electorate harm him. It might be that he didn’t properly estimate the fallout.'”
White House yanks plan to roll back 529 accounts
Backfiring and blowback also applied to President Obama’s proposed elimination of 529 college-saving plans. Indeed, the White House quickly reversed course on Tuesday and dropped the proposal. “We proposed it because we thought it was a sensible approach, part of consolidating six programs to two and expanding and better targeting education tax relief for the middle class,” an administration official told NBC News. “Given it has become such a distraction, we’re not going to ask Congress to pass the 529 provision.” There are two big lessons here: One, it shows why tax reform is SO HARD; you touch one popular tax break (even if it makes ton of economic/efficiency sense), and folks will scream bloody murder. Two, it’s a story about the political/journalist class. Raise your hand if you have one of these 529 accounts for your children or grandchildren. As one observer tweeted, “You can see the major class bias of many journalists when they act as though *everyone* benefited from the 529 program.” In fact, the benefits under the program are disproportionately skewed to Americans earning six figures or above — who represent just a sliver of the population. Still, we’re surprised the White House didn’t see this blowback coming when it first proposed the plan.
And that yanking came very quickly
Yet there’s another story here, too: That the White House yanked it SO QUICKLY — especially while the president was overseas — suggests it’s still holding out hope to strike some sort of tax deal with congressional Republicans. If you want to see tax reform happen in the 114th Congress, the speed of the Obama White House’s retraction might give you hope.
The Democrats’ danger of focusing so much on the middle class
A final related point to this 529 story: We get why the White House centered President Obama’s State of the Union speech on “middle class economics” — especially considering that the economic recovery hasn’t trickled down to the middle and lower classes. But there is a danger here for Obama’s team and the Democratic Party. You don’t want to be seen as the folks who are trying to keep Americans IN the middle class. Yes, many Americans are either in the middle class or think they’re in the middle class. But not everyone WANTS to be in the middle class forever; they might have their sights higher.
Senate Judiciary Committee holds confirmation hearing for AG nominee Loretta Lynch
Finally, Obama’s nominee to be his next U.S. attorney general, Loretta Lynch, today has her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. TheNew York Times sets the stage. “If she is confirmed, Ms. Lynch would be the nation’s first African-American woman to serve as attorney general. Her allies have sought to differentiate her from Mr. Holder, an outspoken liberal voice in the administration who clashed frequently with Republicans who accused him of politicizing the office. In particular, Ms. Lynch is expected to face tough questioning about her opinion of the president’s decision to unilaterally ease the threat of deportation for millions of unauthorized immigrants. Mr. Holder approved the legal justification for that action, enraging some Republicans. Ms. Lynch, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, will say that while she had no role in compiling the justification for the president’s action, the legal underpinning was reasonable, according to officials involved in her preparation.” The hearing begins at 10:00 am ET.
Hours before Congress broke for the August recess, House Republicans claimed that the President could use executive action to fix the border situation with unaccompanied childrenfleeing violence in the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In a press statement released Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and other House Republican leaders indicated that President Obama could address the crisis “without the need for congressional action,” a statement tinged with some irony given that just the day before, House Republicans had slammed the President with a lawsuit claiming executive overreach.
“This situation shows the intense concern within our conference – and among the American people – about the need to ensure the security of our borders and the president’s refusal to faithfully execute our laws,” the House Republican leadership press release stated. “There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action, to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”
Boehner made the statement even though the House still had time Thursday before it broke for the August recess to vote through a $659 million supplemental emergency bill to deal with the child arrivals at the border. The House could still potentially offer up a fix to the border situation when the GOP holds an emergency meeting on Friday morning. Still, Republican leaders are struggling to reach the necessary 218 vote threshold, with some calling on a vote for a separate measure that would defund a 2012 presidential initiative that grants temporary deportation reprieve and work authorization for some undocumented immigrants.
At odds with Boehner’s statement is a lawsuit that House Republicans had authorized Wednesday, which criticizes the President over claims that he had unlawfully overused executive orders. The lawsuit enumerates a number of areas in which they allege Obama had employed executive overreach, but they especially targeted the President for not fully implementing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Their lawsuit does not specifically mention immigration. Republicans often cite a 2012 executive order known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a prime example of executive overreach.
Republicans have claimed that the DACA program was responsible for the surge of child arrivals at the southern border since the beginning of the 2014 fiscal year, as well as the reason why they could never pass immigration reform. It seems that the executive action that House Republican leaders have expressed the most interest in since last year has been to dismantle the DACA program, voting three times to dissolve the DACA program, an issue that researchers found has little to do with the current border crisis (eligible DACA applicants must have entered and continuously lived in the United States before June 2007).
During an interview with MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, two Republican members of Congress conceded the conflict between the lawsuit and Boehner’s call for executive action. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) agreed that it didn’t make sense to sue the President, saying, “Look, you can’t say on the one hand that the president is overreaching by acting without legislative authority and direction and then refuse to give him legislative authority and direction in another area.” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) also agreed, saying, “We can’t go home until we pass a bill. That’s why we’re staying here, that’s why we’re going to get the job done.”
Jerry Mouch, a friend who has known Boehner for over 50 years, wrote a letter to the editor in response that is worth every second of the 2 minutes it takes to read.
You’ve got nothing more pressing to do than sue a president who was elected twice by the majority of voting Americans?You say “the majority of Americans are frustrated.” I agree, but not with this president. They’re frustrated with the childishness of those purporting to serve all the American people.
The majority of Republicans are frustrated. Sure, I get that. But everything shouldn’t come to a halt because you don’t control the White House.
They keep overlooking the fact that President Obama is a constitutional lawyer so he will always make sure every “t” is crossed and every “i” is dotted with this congress. Why do they keep assuming that President Obama is as dumb or dumber than they are?
Speaker of the House John Boehner spent twelve paragraphs writing about why he must sue President Obama, but what was missing from his CNN commentary was any examples of Obama breaking the law.
Boehner wrote, “But too often over the past five years, the President has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold — at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him.”
That sounds dangerous, so what has the president done?
Boehner continued, “That’s why, later this month, we will bring legislation to the House floor that would authorize the House of Representatives to file suit in an effort to compel President Obama to follow his oath of office and faithfully execute the laws of our country.”
This is another allegation that the president has broken laws, but which laws did he violate?
The Speaker continued to ramble on without offering the slightest hint of specifics, “Even worse, the President’s habit of ignoring the law as written hurts our economy and jobs even more. Washington taxes and regulations always make it harder for private sector employers to meet payrolls, invest in new initiatives and create jobs — but how can those employers plan, invest and grow when the laws are changing on the President’s whim at any moment? I don’t take the House legal action against the President lightly. We’ve passed legislation to address this problem (twice), but Senate Democrats, characteristically, have ignored it.”
Was Boehner writing about Obamacare, the EPA rules on coal power plants, raising the minimum wage for federal contractors, immigration? Who knows? Speaker Boehner certainly doesn’t.
Speaker Boehner aimless drifts for a dozen paragraphs, thirteen if you count a one sentence paragraph which I didn’t, and he says nothing that everyone hasn’t heard Republicans accuse Obama of ever since the day that he first he took office.
The most revealing thing about Speaker Boehner’s CNN op-ed is the complete lack of evidence that it contains. Boehner couldn’t articulate a clear reason for suing the president much less a specific example that could be deemed worthy of a lawsuit. Every executive action that Obama has taken has decades or centuries legal precedent behind it. The Speaker has been trying to dodge the fact that he has no legal grounds to sue on.
Speaker Boehner has been working on this lawsuit for six months. Over the course of the past half year, House Republicans have not found a single instance where President Obama has broken the law. If Boehner had a specific example of the president breaking the law, he would be using it. The fact that he has been trying to whip Republicans into a frenzy over this lawsuit without telling them why they are suing the president speaks volumes about the merits of what Rep. Boehner is up to.
This lawsuit is a gimmick that is designed to distract Republican voters from the fact that in 2010 and 2012 Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare, but here we are in 2014, and not only is the ACA the law of the land, but it is more popular than ever. Republicans promised to shut down the government until they got their way, and failed. Failure is the defining characteristic of Boehner’s time as Speaker.
The years of Republican majority control of the House have been wrapped in failure. The lawsuit is nothing more than a shiny distraction. Benghazi didn’t distract. This IRS conspiracy flamed out, so all Boehner has left is an empty threat to sue the president.
Democrats are raising record sums of money while conservatives see through the gimmicks. Speaker Boehner has unleashed a backlash from all sides. Just like his CNN op-ed Boehner’s speakership has been full of bluster but ineptly lacking in action.
In other words, every time John Boehner brings up this lawsuit, House Republicans take another step towards losing in 2014.
President Obama is setting a trap for John Boehner and the House Republicans, as during his remarks on the economy, the president had a simple message for Boehner, “sue me.”
The president said:
And this obstruction keeps the system rigged for those who are doing fine at the top. It prevents us from helping more middle-class families. And as long as they insist on taking no action whatsoever that will help anybody, I’m going to keep on taking actions on my own that can help the middle class — like the actions I’ve already taken to speed up construction projects, and attract new manufacturing jobs, and lift workers’ wages, and help students pay off their loans.
And they criticize me for this. Boehner sued me for this. And I told him, I’d rather do things with you, pass some laws, make sure the Highway Trust Fund is funded so we don’t lay off hundreds of thousands of workers. It’s not that hard. Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff. So sue me. As long as they’re doing nothing, I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something.
And look, I just want to be clear — Republicans in Congress, they’re patriots, they love their country, they love their families. They just have a flawed theory of the economy that they can’t seem to get past. They believe that all we should be doing is giving more tax breaks to those at the top, eliminating regulations that stop big banks or polluters from doing what they want, cut the safety net for people trying to work their way into the middle class, and then somehow the economy is going to get stronger and jobs and prosperity trickle down to everybody. That’s their worldview. I’m sure they sincerely believe it. It’s just not accurate. It does not work.
I am starting to suspect that even John Boehner can smell the trap that is being set. Earlier in the day, it looked like the president was intentionally trying to bait the Speaker of the House into suing him by announcing that he was directing his cabinet to find more areas where he could act unilaterally.
President Obama would love nothing more than for Boehner to follow through on his threat and file the lawsuit against him. The lawsuit has given Obama the opportunity to discuss Republican obstruction. His administrative actions are making Democrats look like they are the only party that is remotely interested in doing anything for the American people, while candidates across the country can hammer Republican incumbents for their symphony of obstruction.
Obama’s challenge to Boehner isn’t an empty one. This president knows exactly what he is doing, and he is gambling that House Republicans can’t resist getting into another confrontation. What President Obama and most people outside of the Republican Party already realize is that Boehner won’t win. Centuries of legal precedent are on President Obama’s side. Republicans don’t even know why they are suing the president. Boehner’s lawsuit is a hopeless shot in the dark strategy that the Speaker is counting on to get Republicans to the polls in November.
By trying to sue Obama, Boehner has energized the president, the Democratic Party, and the many voters who were thinking about staying home this November. Of course, if previous behavioral patterns hold true, since Obama is in favor of the lawsuit, Republicans will now be against it.
In 2003, I was a student at the University of California at Santa Cruz when the city council became “the nation’s first local government to ask Congress to look into impeaching President Bush on charges he deceived the American public about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and has used the Sept. 11 attacks as an excuse to crush civil rights.” The resolution didn’t much matter but it got a lot of coverage — perhaps more on the right than on the left. There’s nothing a political party likes more than overreach on the other side.
The English language gets a bit fuzzy when it comes to American politics. The sentence “Republicans call for President Obama’s impeachment” might mean that the official Republican Party is swinging towards impeachment or that a handful of people who mark Republican on their party registration form are calling for impeachment.
In this case, it’s closer to the latter than the former. There’s been no organized effort among congressional Republicans to impeach Obama. There’s been no real support for impeachment forthcoming from congressional leadership. As Jonathan Bernstein writes, top Republicans could do more to distance themselves from the more extreme elements of the right, “but there’s a huge distance between a few delegates to state party conventions and a few loudmouth talk show types yammering about it and the U.S. House of Representatives actually doing it.”
There’s a real problem in American politics where people of one party get overexposed to —and end up overweighting — marginal voices in the other party. It’s a function of a more politically polarized media environment: there’s more audience in highlighting the most offensive comments from the other side than there is in highlighting the most important. The result is liberals end up with an incorrectly extreme view of the Republican Party, and vice versa.
Which isn’t even to say that important Republicans aren’t personally sympathetic to some of the arguments for impeachment. But John Boehner was a congressman in 1998, when the GOP’s impeachment overreach led to Democratic gains in a midterm Republicans should have won — and then to Speaker Newt Gingrich’s resignation. It’s not a play Boehner wants to repeat. (Slight sidenote: the impeachment of President Clinton is looked back on as a farce, and for the most part, it was. But it’s easy, with more than a decade of distance, to forget how morally outrageous Clinton’s actions were. Gingrich didn’t have the family life to pass judgment, but fury at Clinton was bipartisan and nonpolitical in a way that has no precedent right now.)Moreover, the clock is running out on Obama’s presidency. The midterms are coming, and Republicans look to be in the command position: they don’t want to do anything to interrupt their momentum. And unlike in the Clinton years, they don’t control the Senate: there’s no chance of impeachment going anywhere.
There’s an argument, increasingly popular among liberals, that after the midterms Republicans will control the Senate and then impeachment proceeding against Obama will begin in earnest. Barring some gamechanging scandal, I doubt it. The GOP’s anger at Obama won’t overwhelm their desire to win the 2016 election. And a party that wants to make gains among young and minority voters isn’t going to make them by spending two years trying, and failing, to impeach Obama. This is a party that is exceedingly rational about what’s required to win presidential campaigns. They nominated Mitt Romney, for Pete’s sake!
Business as usual for this do nothing congress…sue the POTUS for recess appointments he made because they were not doing the work they were elected to do…
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) confirmed Wednesday that he will file a federal lawsuit challenging the executive actions of President Barack Obama, despite supporting President George W. Bush’s extensive use of executive authority.
Boehner said at a news conference, “You know the constitution makes it clear that the president’s job is to faithfully execute the laws and in my view the President has not faithfully executed the laws.” He added that the suit was “about defending the institution in which we serve” because “what we’ve seen clearly over the past 5 years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch.” He refused to say which specific actions he believes to be illegal.
President Obama has issued about 180 executive orders — a power that has been utilized byevery president since George Washington except for the brief-tenured William Henry Harrison — and taken other executive actions. A Boehner spokesman denounced these as “a clear record of ignoring the American people’s elected representatives and exceeding his constitutional authority, which has dangerous implications for both our system of government and our economy.”
But Boehner embraced the power of a Republican president to take action, even at times when he would circumvent Congress by doing so. President George W. Bush’s issuedhundreds of orders of his own over his eight years in office. In 2001 and 2007, Boehner strongly supported unilateral actions by Bush to prevent embryonic stem-cell research involving new embryos, saying the 2001 decision “preserves the sanctity of life and allows limited research that could help millions of Americans suffering from life-threatening diseases.” He endorsed a 2008 Bush executive order to limit earmarks. In the final days of Bush’s second term, he even wrote to the president asking him to use an executive order to exempt a historic steamboat from safety regulations after Congress opted not to do so.
Boehner even pushed for administrative compliance with one of President Obama’s executive orders. In 2010, he asked Obama for a progress report on implementation of an executive order banning taxpayer funding for abortion in Obamacare. In a letter to then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, he noted that the order had “paved the way” for the law’s passage and that the lack of update on implementation “does little to diminish widespread skepticism about the administration’s commitment to enforcing the Executive Order and preventing the law law from increasing federal support for abortion.”
While the president has limited power to act via executive order — the U.S. Supreme Court has even suggested that it would hold one of President Obama’s most controversial executive actions.
As of February, Obama had issued fewer executive orders than all but one of the other presidents since World War II.
Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) claimed that, based on the numbered of cancelled plans versus number of enrollees, the Affordable Care Act must have resulted in a net loss of insured Americans. Though PolitiFact and Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler had plowed this territory before, both felt that the Speaker of the House making the claim meant it warranted further review.
Those reviews are in. The verdict: nope.
Both fact-checking sites questioned Boehner’s number of those who had plans cancelled because they failed to meet the ACA’s minimum standards (best estimates place that number at under 5 million, not at 6).
Both sites also reminded Boehner that many cancelled polices were extended under the ACA’s fix enacted late last fall that allowed people to keep their policies for another year, while some were moved automatically by their insurance companies to new plans. PolitiFact estimated that the number of people actually left without insurance is about 500,000. Even taking into account that a fraction of those signing up through the ACA’s website were previously uninsured, the number well exceeds those who would have actually lost insurance.
They also found Boehner’s claim failed to include people twenty-six years and younger who were able to join their parents’ health plan, and those who signed up through Medicaid; conservative estimates put those two groups combined at around 5 million.
“Taking the lowest-range estimates, we still end up with nearly 9 million people added to the insurance rolls, more than enough to swamp Boehner’s 6 million figure, which as we noted is a pretty useless number to begin with,” Kessler wrote yesterday, awarding Boehner’s claim four Pinocchios.
It’s bad math for two reasons. First, most of the people who lost their insurance have seen those policies extended to them through an administrative fix, or they received new coverage through their previous insurer or they bought a new plan. Second, he ignores the millions of people who bought coverage off the exchange, those who gained coverage through Medicaid and the under-26 crowd able to remain on their parents’ insurance.
We don’t yet know how many new Americans will ultimately gain coverage. But every indicator right now suggests it will be a net gain.
This is an incredible statistic about Tuesday’s vote in the U.S. House to raise the debt limit through March 2015:
The 28 members of the Republican majority who voted for the bill — a meager 12 percent — was the lowest percentage for a majority on passage since the House began publishing electronic data on votes in 1991.
The clear implication, says Carl Hulse of The New York Times, is that the vast majority of House Republicans voted against a measure that they actually wanted to pass: The “vote no, hope yes” phenomenon. This pattern—public opposition coupled with private support—is utterly dysfunctional, says Hulse, and the amazing thing is that at least one House Republican agreed with him:
“The incentives are not aligned,” one House Republican acknowledged in conceding that the debt limit vote was not exactly what the framers intended when they drew up the plans for how the House would operate.
On issue after issue, what we’re seeing is a House of Representatives in which the majority party is utterly incapable of governing, whether it’s immigration reform or the government shutdown or turning to Democrats to save the country from default. And it’s pretty clear, not just from that quote above, that Republicans—at least the somewhat smart ones—understand the dysfunction.Take, for example, what happened when House Speaker John Boehner told his caucus that he would allow Democrats to supply the votes to avoid default:
But they didn’t speak up or clap. Boehner just stood there for a moment after he finished, eyed the room, and walked toward his seat. On his way there, Boehner shook his head, then turned to the nearly mute crowd and wondered aloud why he wasn’t getting applause. “I’m getting this monkey off your back and you’re not going to even clap?” Boehner asked, scowling playfully at some tea-party favorites.In a second, attendees snapped back and dozens of them applauded, but there were no cheers. “There was, how do I say it, a polite golf clap,” one House GOP veteran said. “But that, thank God, was the end.”
Think about that: Boehner not only announced to his caucus that Democrats would be doing their job for them, but he saw it as an accomplishment—and wanted to get some credit for it. In a sense, it’s hard to argue that Boehner did the right thing by sidelining his party and letting Democrats prevent an economic catastrophe. But the real lesson shouldn’t be that Boehner deserves credit for figuring out how to govern despite having a caucus divided between crazies and hypocrites—the real lesson should be that if Boehner always needs Democrats to bail him out, then next November, voters should make his job easier by putting Democrats back in the majority.