114th Congress · GOP House Majority · Republican Politics

Boehner and McConnell Balance Their Budget on the Backs of the American People

McConnell-Boehner | Attribution: none

Big Oil,  Defense contractors and the One Percent, win.  While the American populous suffers…


The House did it, then the Senate did it, killing a budget that attacks the American people. As pointed out here yesterday, 27 million Americans lose their health insurance if Congress gets its way. The rich, of course, get to keep theirs.

What is interesting is the way in which House Speaker John Boehner chose to present this dubious accomplishment. Taking to Facebook, he posted,

As you can see, being Boehner, he chose anything but an honest approach.

In a statement yesterday, Boehner claimed:

In seven years, President Obama has never proposed a budget that balances. For a span of four years, Senate Democrats didn’t pass a budget at all. Now, four months into the new Congress, Republican majorities in the House and Senate worked together to pass the first joint 10-year balanced budget in 14 years. This is a big win for the American people, and a fulfillment of our promise to govern responsibly and return the annual appropriations process to regular order. Workers and families deserve a federal government that spends within its means and treats Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars with respect.

Well, at least the treats the non-taxed dollars of the rich with respect.

Mitch McConnell did some crowing of his own on Facebook:


We should all fall down on our knees and cry out, “We’re not worthy!” as we bow toward the great one, right?

What’s funny about all this crowing is that thanks to Obama and the Democrats, we have had 51 consecutive months of job growth, and added 9.4 million jobs to the economy. And he wants to give us 1.2 million over TEN YEARS?

Boehner and McConnell are living in an alternate universe.

Here’s the problem. Funny doesn’t get the job done. We need serious effort, not unintentional comedy from Republicans.

For the record, McConnell isn’t making Republicans all that happy either. The Daily Caller has complained that McConnell plans to add billions to the deficit in a separate bill, making the balanced budget no more than sleight of hand. Bernie Sanders agrees. He has already exposed a laundry lit of budget gimmicks:

  • Using the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which falls outside of the budget caps to significantly increase defense spending;
  • Masking the true consequences of their policies under the guise of ‘unallocated’ cuts and ‘government-wide’ savings;
  • Only achieving their goal of ‘balance’ by using made-up ‘dynamic’ numbers; and
  • Dismantling health care reform, but keeping the savings and revenues that support it.

However, there are more serious problems with this budget than simple dishonesty. As Nancy Pelosi has pointed out, what she calls “the GOP’s “Work Harder for Less” budget”:

  • slashes programs for K-12 education
  • cuts Pell Grants that help low-income students attend college
  • repeals the Affordable Care Act
  • cuts investments in infrastructure and innovation

“And let’s not forget,” she says, “the GOP budget does all of those things while empowering special interests and paving the way for huge tax breaks for millionaires.”

America of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. Pelosi reminds us that “This budget makes it harder to buy a home, pay for college, or save for a secure retirement. Put simply: the GOP budget is a DISASTER for hardworking families, while millionaires and billionaires make out like bandits.”

Don’t you love these two clowns telling us how great an opportunity we have standing before us being peons for the rich and serfs for the corporations?

The GOP’s American dream is not OUR American dream. It is not the American dream that has attracted millions to these shores. Immigrants today, like our immigrant ancestors, want something more than the chance to be a form of sustenance for the 1 Percent.

If the Republicans want to throw away all their gains in 2016, they are going about it the right way.

Hrafnkell Haraldsson

Republican Politics

Why on Earth Would Any Minority or Woman Want To Be a Republican?

This is not an indictment on conservatism in general.

The Big Slice – Peter Fagan

No, the above question was not meant to be facetious. I’m quite serious. I’ve thought about this for quite some time and I’m convinced that if you’re an African-American, Latino or woman and you are a registered Republican you either must hate yourself or you simply haven’t been paying very close attention. The analogy is like being stuck in an abusive marriage. No matter how hard you try to make things work out, in the end you always wind up with a black eye.

I have never seen a political party so completely go out of its way to so thoroughly alienate so many key constituencies the way the Republican Party has. Pick a group, any group, and the list of egregious conduct is appalling.  When it comes to myopia, racism, homophobia, chauvinism and misogyny, the GOP is a virtual treasure trove of spoils.

Whether it’s African-Americans being denied the right to vote; Hispanics who have to listen to derogatory words like “wetback;” women having to deal with “legitimate rape” comments and threats of vaginal probes; or gays and lesbians being compared with farm animals, it’s astonishing that the GOP isn’t comprised completely of white, heterosexual males by now. Though at the rate it’s offending these groups, that fate is inevitable.

At the risk of channeling my inner Nixon, I want to make this perfectly clear. This is not an indictment of conservatism in general. I fully understand and accept the fact that there are indeed conservatives out there who are African-American, Hispanic, female and even homosexual. They are just as much entitled to their beliefs as I am. It’s not their beliefs that I’m questioning, it’s their sanity.

Woody Allen once famously said that he would never want to belong to any club that would have him as a member. I would submit that for minorities and women, the reverse seems to be playing out. Despite demonstrative proof that they are not welcomed, some yearn all-the-more for membership.

You hear about this all the time from therapists who have clients that cling to failed relationships or put up with unacceptable behavior under the naïve belief that the offending party will come around and treat them with respect. But it rarely, if ever, happens. The abuse continues unabated. Why? Because there are no real consequences, that’s why.

Think about it. Despite getting soundly beaten on a national level in last year’s elections, Republicans continue to hold their majority in the House thanks to gerrymandered congressional districts. Even the most optimistic projections concede that it might well be several election cycles before the House flips back to Democratic control. That means that the GOP can be as crazy as a loon and not suffer the consequences of its actions.  Translation: the circus shenanigans will continue.

The Republican Party has, for all intents and purposes, been kidnapped by the most outrageous, demented and hate-filled bunch of individuals ever assembled under one tent. The only question that begs to be answered – the one I opened up with – is this. Why would any rational minority or woman with a modicum of self respect want to be anywhere near that tent, much less under it? Who would belong to such a club?

Republican Ideology · Republican Politics

Michael Burgess: I Oppose Abortion Because Male Fetuses Masturbate

I promise you I’m not making this stuff up…

The Huffington Post

Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) said Monday that abortion should be banned as early as 15 weeks after conception because he has witnessed male fetuses masturbate at that stage.

RH Reality Check first reported Burgess’ comments, which came during a late-night House Rules Committee hearing on a GOP bill that would ban abortions starting at 20 weeks after conception.

“This is a subject that I do know something about,” said Burgess, a former OB/GYN. “There is no question in my mind that a baby at 20 weeks after conception can feel pain. The fact of the matter is, I argue with the chairman because I thought the date was far too late. We should be setting this at 15 weeks, 16 weeks.”

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” Burgess continued. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to think that they could feel pain?”

The bill, called The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, is scheduled for a House vote later Tuesday.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), the bill’s author, sparked outcry last week after saying heopposed an exception for rape victims in the bill because “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.” Members of the House Rules Committee later, and quietly, added in exceptions to the bill for rape and incest victims. It’s unclear who was behind the change. A spokesperson for Franks did not return a request for comment.

Benghazi · GOP Leadership · Republican Politics

House Republicans and extortion for the sake of extortion

Pitch perfect assessment…

The Washington Post – Post Partisan

Today’s news is about Republican leaders in the House scrambling around to find something that they can blackmail Barack Obama and the Democrats with, so that they can threaten to crash the economy with a government default unless they get it.

Kevin Drum and Brian Buetler interpret this as Republican irresponsibility on the budget. Greg Sargent points out that it’s even worse — Republican leaders in the House, including Speaker John Boehner, have already admitted that they aren’t willing to really force default, so they’re refusing to negotiate for now because they’re waiting until they can threaten to blow up the economy even though they admit they really won’t.

House Speaker John Boehner (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Well, maybe.

I say: It’s worse than that!

As I read this, it’s not really about Republicans demanding debt reduction and using the best leverage they have available to get it. Nor is it about Republicans demanding tax reform — their other possible demand — and using the best leverage they have to get it.

No, it’s the other way around. The House crazy caucus is demanding not debt reduction, not spending cuts, not budget balancing, but blackmail itself. That’s really the demand: The speaker and House Republican leaders absolutely must use the debt limit as extortion. What should they use it to get? Apparently, that’s pretty much up for grabs, as long as it seems really, really, big — which probably comes down to meaning that the Democrats really, really don’t like it.

In other words: I think Greg is correct, and the speaker has decided that he doesn’t actually want to blow past the debt limit. But now he has to find some way to do it without losing his job. And that means satisfying the significant chunk of his conference who demand maximum nuttiness at all times, either because they really believe in it or because they’re terrified to allow any space at all between themselves and those true believers.

It’s the extortion that’s the point. Not the policy.


Republican Politics

The Republican De-Evolution: From Political Party to Cult


This article does a good job in explaining what happened to the Republican Party…

Forward Progress

For a while now, I’ve called the Republican Party a cult more often than I have a political party or ideology.  The emergence of the Tea Party only solidified this belief.

Scientific research (not that science means much of anything to many Republicans) distinguishes 5 characteristics of a cult:

  1. People are put in physical or emotionally distressing situations
  2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized
  3. They receive what seems to be unconditional love, acceptance and attention from a charismatic leader or group
  4. They get a new identity based on the group
  5. They are subject to entrapment and their access to information is severely controlled

I’ll tackle these one by one.

1)  Any rational person who’s subjected themselves to a decent amount of right-wing media (I have, it comes with the job) would find it hard to deny that these individuals often thrive on fear, paranoia and anger.  Anyone who has ever objectively watched Fox News, listened to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, has probably lost count of the references to apocalyptic destruction of our country even in just one broadcast.  Even after the death of Osama Bin Ladin, something that should have been celebrated by every American, Fox News perpetuated the idea that President Obama was someone who proved that he has no issues going into a country without authorization, to kill whoever he wants—whenever he wants.  Really?  You take what should be an apolitical event and turn it into a means at which to paint Obama as some kind of tyrant who will stop at nothing to kill whoever he wants.  It was simply ridiculous.

Even long after the “death panel” myth has been soundly debunked, many Republican still fear “death panels” in the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve been conditioned to believe Obama is some kind of gay rights supporting, foreign-born, radical Muslim socialist set on destroying “traditional American values,” yet can’t pinpoint a time when we had those—for everyone.  Hell, they can’t even comprehend that for someone to be a socialist, a radical Muslim and support homosexuality is nearly an endless line of contradictions that no one person could ever singularly encompass.

They’re told by most of their media sources to be afraid.  These bad men are out to bankrupt your grandchildren, create panels deciding who lives and dies, and turn this country into some socialistic style of governing.  You can’t constantly be bombarded with this kind of intensely negative and hate filled information and not come out emotionally compromised.

Continue reading here…

Both Houses of Congress · President Barack Obama · Republican Politics

Obama doesn’t have a ‘juice’ problem. He has a Republican problem

Running low on juice?
Running low on juice?

I saw the POTUS’  press conference earlier this week.  When the reporter asked him if he had still had “juice” with Republicans I immediately thought of the slang term: juice– respect, power.

The author’s  definition seems somewhat skewered.  However, his analysis of President Obama’s hopefulness in getting Republican leaders to see things his way and the futility of that effort seems to be spot on.

The Week

The big question in Washington this week comes from ABC’s Jonathan Karl, who asked President Obama at a press conference: “Do you still have the juice?”

Juice, in this context, means the energy and wherewithal to have your way, to get the job done. (Karl’s “still have” presumes Obama had the juice to begin with, which is increasingly debatable.)

Karl also asked about the president’s failure to end the sequester or get a gun bill through the Senate (it would have died in the House anyway), and implied that these episodes showed how powerless and ineffective Obama is just 100 days into his new term.

Obama knew he was outgunned by the NRA and its Congressional cronies from the beginning, but he stuck his neck out anyway. That he lost the gun-control fight says not so much about his power (or lack thereof) as it does about ongoing, implacable Republican resistance to his wishes. Karl didn’t ask about that. His question implied that Obama’s weakness was solely to blame for these legislative failures. That’s simply not the case.

What of this GOP stubbornness? If anything, it’s greater than ever today.

Why? Because Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — whose most fervent hope was that Obama would be a one-term president — now knows with absolute certainty that Obama will be gone in three-and-a-half years.

In fact, the Kentucky senator has less incentive to deal now then ever before, because there’s a good chance that Republicans will win the Senate next year. The Senate is 54-45 in favor of Democrats now (one independent, Bernie Sanders, caucuses with Democrats). But of the 35 Senate seats up for grabs in November 2014, 21 are held by Democrats, including several long-timers who are retiring. No sitting president’s party has ever gained seats in the midterm of a second term, and if the GOP wins the Senate, and hangs onto the House (a good bet), the president would be completely shut out on Capitol Hill — and the lamest of ducks.

This whole Obama/juice flare-up is, of course, part of a broader meme that’s popular inside the Beltway: that Obama is aloof, insular. If only he was more of a people person, a back-slapper type, the meme goes, things would be different. Much more of his agenda would be getting through.

I don’t buy it. Obama drinks. He plays golf. He watches sports. He eats out a lot. He’s done all of these guy things with Republicans, and it hasn’t made a lick of difference. They simply don’t want to cross the aisle.

The problem is not that Obama lacks “juice.” What he lacks, here in his fifth year in office, is an understanding that he’s never going to get anywhere with Republicans.  At a California fundraiser last month, he said he’s going to keep trying — even though he acknowledged that it’s irritating his base — because the country needs it. He thinks that eventually, Republicans will do, as he puts it, “the right thing.” Who is he to say what’s right? Obama got 51 percent of the vote in November — not exactly a mandate. Republicans, as they see it, are doing the right thing. And unlike Obama, they’re not irritating their base. They’re playing to it.

The president still thinks he can change Washington.  He can’t. This isn’t a failure. The forces against him — deeply entrenched, heavily financed, well-organized — were here long before he came to town all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. They’ll still be around when he leaves 45 months from now.

So what can Obama do? He can stop defining his opponents in terms of who he thinks they are — stubborn men who will eventually see the brilliance of his ways — and start defining them as who they really are: implacable foes, enemies who are out to trip him, defeat him, destroy him. He can campaign against them, raise money for their opponents, unleash the grassroots database he used to destroy Mitt Romney on them. He can stop playing nice, stop hoping for the best, and start toughening up. That’s the Chicago way.

Gerrymandering · Republican Politics · Tea Party

What country does the Tea Party represent?

What country does the Tea Party represent?


House Republicans are no longer swayed by public opinion, imperiling the GOP and grinding government to a halt

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

With an assist from some long-term demographic trends, House Republicans have redistricted, propagandized and policed themselves into another country.

As a result, they have become unmoored from the political incentives that typically drive law-makers’ decision-making process. Public opinion no longer sways them, and that is creating a potentially insurmountable problem for the party establishment’s efforts to broaden the GOP’s appeal beyond angry old white people.

House Republicans may care about the GOP’s national fortunes in the abstract, but too many are impervious to what the public at large wants because of the nature of the districts they represent. At the same time, a steady stream of spin from the conservative media provides insulation from the realities of American politics, and deep-pocketed outside groups punish Republicans for any deviation from right-wing orthodoxy.

This isn’t just a serious problem for establishment Republicans. It’s ground our government to a halt, as Congress is virtually incapable of action, even on issues where there is something approaching a consensus among the public at large — like universal background checks for firearm purchases, for example. They’re supported by 80-90 percent of voters, but face a steep uphill climb in the House.

How did this happen?

The Great Gerrymander of 2010

In 2012, Democratic House candidates got 1.4 million more votes than Republicans, but came away 33 seats short of the majority – only the second time since World War Two that such a reversal has taken place. That was the fruit of a well-funded, multi-year plan by the Republican State Leadership Committee to take over state houses before the 2010 Census, and control the redistricting process that followed.

And they gerrymandered with a vengeance. As Princeton University scholar Sam Wang noted, “although gerrymandering is usually thought of as a bipartisan offense… partisan redistricting is not symmetrical between the political parties.”

By my seat-discrepancy criterion, 10 states are out of whack: [Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin] plus Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Texas. Arizona was redistricted by an independent commission, Texas was a combination of Republican and federal court efforts, and Illinois was controlled by Democrats. Republicans designed the other seven maps. Both sides may do it, but one side does it more often.

Surprisingly absent from the guilty list is California, where 62 percent of the two-party vote went to Democrats [which] exactly matched the [proportion of the] newly elected delegation.

Democrats Are “Inefficiently Distributed”

But, as a number of observers pointed out after the mid-terms, even this aggressive effort to redraw districts in their favor wasn’t quite enough to lock in Republicans’ control of the House. This is where the organic trend comes in. Political scientists Jowei Chen of the University of Michigan and Jonathan Rodden of Stamford explain (PDF) that as a result of migration and urbanization, Democrats tend to be “highly clustered in dense central city areas, while Republicans are scattered more evenly through the suburban, exurban, and rural periphery.” This results in what the authors call “unintentional redistricting,” with “a skew in the distribution of partisanship across districts such that with 50 percent of the votes, Democrats can expect fewer than 50 percent of the seats.”

Hyper-Partisan Districts

Those two trends have resulted in a dwindling number of competitive districts. As the New York Times’ numbers-guru Nate Silver pointed out, the number of “landslide districts” – which he defined as those that went for one party by 20 or more percentage points than the electorate as a whole – has doubled since 1992, while the number of swing districts has fallen from 155 to just 64 over the same period.

When you look at the racial composition of districts, the trend becomes even more pronounced. According to the Census Bureau, 111 House republicans represent districts that are at least 80 percent white.

Continue below the chart, here


Republican Politics

Two Brain Cells and Leaving the Republican Party

Mario Piperni

One man’s look back on why it took him as long as it did to finally abandon the Republican party.

I think the meanness of the GOP was a big part of it. The outing people on the internet, the religious fanatics, the attempts to get people fired, the absolute unwillingness to ever admit error, the smearing of Schiavo’s husband, the gay-bashing, etc.

But again, I will never know why it took so long. It’s not easy looking at everything you thought you knew and saying “Wow, was I ever full of shit.” But eventually, if you have two remaining brain cells bouncing around your thick noggin, the amount of evidence becomes unavoidable and undeniable.

Even for someone who voted for Bush twice.

Reason to hope, right?

Republican Politics · Tea Party Agenda

Credit agencies warn GOP of ‘death spiral’

“No one is as deaf as the man who will not listen.” ~ Jewish Proverb


House Republicans were cautioned Thursday in a closed door meeting with credit rating agency officials that a “death spiral” in the bond market was one of the possible outcomes in the event of default.

One official warned of a worst-case scenario in which a default on the nation’s credit could result in a rapid drop in bond values, sparking chaos in the markets — a dramatic warning asWashington worked on a possible deal on deficit reduction and an increase in the debt limit.

Members who attended the meeting later countered that the tone of the discussion was not nearly as apocalyptic as the phrase initially made it sound. According to sources inside the room, the “death spiral” term was also used in reference to the collapse of Lehmann Brothers in September 2008 as a historical example.

Rep. Nan Hayworth, a freshman Republican from New York, hosted this off-the-record meeting with GOP House lawmakers Thursday afternoon. Hayworth called the meeting a “dispassionate and objective” discussion about the potentially disastrous consequences of not raising the debt ceiling by the August deadline. But Republicans said they were also told that unless the government undertook a serious deficit reduction program, the credit ratings could still assign a negative outlook to the nation’s debt anyway.

“If we do nothing, if we simply raise the debt ceiling, without a change in America’s spending trajectory then the markets will react negatively as well. That’s certainly the message I took away,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.).

Read more…

Related articles