Ron Paul & Sherry Boehlert-- Republicans Without A Home
Maybe Ron Paul Will Get Luckier On His Third Try
No matter what you want to say about Ron Paul, you can't deny the man is an independent thinker who has made some valuable contributions to our political system, certainly more so than most Members of Congress. And, after 2 dozen years in Congress he's retiring now. So he humbly requested that Romney allow him to address the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Romney had some flunky tell him no. Congressman Paul asked again. Romney said no again. I don't agree with everything Ron Paul has to say; in fact I disagree with most of it. But I still think the man deserves to be honored for his service and if Romney won't allow him to speak in Tampa, maybe President Obama should let him have his say in Charlotte.
Meanwhile, Paul is trying one last time-- this time with Democrat Sam Farr-- to move along the road to marijuana decriminalization as part of his keeping government out of people's personal affairs agenda, one that Beltway Establishmentarians have no understanding of.
And speaking of Republicans who served for two dozen years, New York mainstream conservative, Sherwood Boehlert, was first elected to Congress in 1982 and decided to retire in 2006. He was respected on both sides of the aisle, he was one of the most dedicated Republican environmentalists, when there was still such a thing as a Republican environmentalist. He was chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee from 2001-2007, at a time before "science" became a dirty word among Republicans-- who most recently showed their contempt for the Science Committee by putting Sandy Adams (R-FL), the clueless teabagger most universally accepted as Congress' stupidest member, on the committee. (She promptly called for the abolition of the National Weather Service, claiming the cable TV channels do it well enough.) Boehlert wrote the acid rain provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, something Republicans-- along with the shady Blue Dogs-- were trying to eviscerate just a few weeks ago. Currently on the board of the bipartisan Alliance for Climate Protection, he's pretty estranged from the current crop of Republican whores serving corporations in Congress. So I doubt many of them were too taken aback by his OpEd in The Hill last week, castigating the power of the right-wing over his old party's congressional agenda and their plan to "shut down the entire regulatory system."
I wish that description were hyperbole, but it is not; indeed, it would be difficult to exaggerate the sweep and destructiveness of the House bill. The measure (H.R. 4078) would impose a moratorium on the issuance of any and all major new regulations for the foreseeable future...
The bill prohibits not just the issuance of new standards and safeguards but any action that “is expected to lead to” their being proposed. The legislation might as well just directly order the agencies that were created to protect the public to close up shop (except for enforcement actions) for the next few years. Unhappy that it has been unable to provoke a government shutdown over spending battles or a default on the nation’s debt, the right wing has now come up with a more subtle way to make sure the government can’t do its job. And what should be seen as a strikingly outlandish proposal is instead being treated by the House as a marquee bill.
What would be so bad about having no new regulations for several years? Well, nothing if everything else about the world was going to stand still for that period, but that’s not likely to be the case. Might we want to try some new ways to stimulate the housing market? No new rules to run a program would be permitted. Might we want to respond to recent revelations about the way banks have misreported and manipulated interest rates? No chance. How about protecting consumers from new attempts by banks to impose exorbitant fees? No dice.
It would be the same story for rules to improve health and safety or to protect the environment. Want those new mileage standards that even the auto industry is supporting? They’d be blocked for years, hurting consumers and the economy. How about some rules for new methods of extracting natural gas? No can do, even if industry wanted them to provide certainty and perhaps limit liability. How about applying the lessons learned from the oil disaster in the Gulf? That would just have to wait.
It’s easy to come up with a list of problems that the public would rightly expect government to address over the next few years that would be blocked by this bill. In many cases, industry would also want some order imposed rather than being in limbo. And what if a President Romney wanted to impose new limitations on what government aid could be used for? That would be blocked, too. What it’s hard to do is come up with a plausible rationale for such a mindlessly broad moratorium.
The bill is titled the “Red Tape Reduction and Small Business Job Creation Act”-- a name that borders on self-parody. There is no indication that this bill would aid job growth. Indeed by blocking rules needed to make the economy run more smoothly-- like ones to protect another financial meltdown-- the bill could harm our economic prospects for years to come.
But this bill is not drafted to deal with any practical concern anyway; it’s designed to codify an ideological fantasy. Bills like this make it harder, not easier to get down to the real work of improving the regulatory system.
The media and the Washington establishment have largely been ignoring the House effort because it seems so far-fetched. But we ignore these efforts at our peril. The state of the regulatory system and the role of government are important issues that deserve serious debate. Each time a bill like this passes, it shifts the debate to the right, makes it harder to work out sensible compromises, and puts members on the record in ways that restrict future action.
The right wing does not have a record of doing things simply to waste time; it is deadly in earnest. Its opponents would be wise to take it seriously. The Republican leadership is putting this bill forward as a genuine proposal, and that ought to spark sharp debate-- as well as opposition that spans partisan lines. Those who understand the consequences of this bill, including business leaders, ought to feel obligated to speak out.
Atlas may shrug, but mere mortals should take note. The right wing is serious about disabling the government.
Speaker Boehner was tweeting up a storm yesterday about how all he wants to do is cut red tape so businesses can... can what? Pollute the environment at will? Poison consumers? Cheat to their heart's content? That's the new GOP ethos. And when Cantor asked the House to consider H.R. 4078 late yesterday afternoon, every single Republican voted yes-- no Sherry Boehlerts in this craven crew-- and they were joined by 9 of the slimiest corporate-asskissing Democrats: Dan Boren (Blue Dog-OK, retiring), Democratic Senate candidate Joe Donnelly (Blue Dog-IN), Gene Green (TX), Larry Kissell (Blue Dog-NC), Jim Matheson (Blue Dog-UT), Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC), Bill Owens (NY), Mike Ross (Blue Dog-AR, retiring) and Heath Shuler (Blue Dog-NC, retiring).
Not that anyone would possibly care, but Kissell, McIntyre, and Owens are all on the #1 top spending priority list for the DCCC. Each is on their Frontline list and heavy duty donors are being directed by "ex"-Blue Dog Steve Israel to max out to these guys. Keep in mind that the next time you send money to the DCCC, you're helping make sure Boehner and Cantor can call their efforts to establish a Law of the Jungle society in America "bipartisan." Better idea: help elect progressives like Rob Zerban, Lee Rogers, Patsy Keever, Sue Thorn, Wayne Powell, Carol Shea-Porter, David Gill and other real-deal Democrats who the DCCC is still stringing along.
Ironically, it looks that because the Republicans put a typo into their bill that completely changes the meaning of it, there won't be a final vote... at least for now. When Democrats find the error, some wondered if Boehner wrote it when he was drink. Since it would requite unanimous consent to change it without starting the whole process all over again-- and that is certainly not something the Democrats are going to agree to, the whole GOP plot has unravelled. “I know Republicans read the bills,” Hoyer said, mocking the GOP for the typo. “My, my, my how carefully they read that bill."
UPDATE: Was Nadler Making Fun Of The Republicans Today?
Jerry Nadler (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, offered an amendment to the ridiculous bill this afternoon in order to at least exempt nuclear safety from Boehner and Cantor's irresponsible wholesale gutting of regulatory safeguards under the pretext of curbing excessive bureaucracy. The amendment would ensure that Americans who live in close proximity to nuclear reactors are protected in the event of a catastrophic meltdown. Nadler pointed out to the Republicans and their Blue Dogs allies that, in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan, it is critical to ensure the safe operation of all nuclear reactors. He was sure to remind them that it's especially relevant for the New York City area, where some 20 million people live within a 50-mile radius of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant.
“It is rare that the premise of an entire week of legislative work on the House Floor is wrong. But, here we are." There is no evidence to support the position that overregulation is the cause of our slow economic growth and high unemployment rate.
“We are told this is ‘regulatory week,’ during which House Republicans are supposedly working to see that the yoke of oppressive government regulation is thrown off and the American entrepreneur is freed to grow his or her business and increase jobs. In thinking about this view, I am reminded of a famous line in Shakespeare’s Macbeth-– ‘it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.’
“We have heard and will continue to hear a lot of sound and fury this week on the House Floor, but just like all of the other regulatory bills the House has passed this year, what we pass this week will die in the Senate as well. So, all of that talk will signify nothing. Like health care repeal, on which we took 33 votes, this too is a tremendous waste of time.
..."My amendment would attempt to make this Frankenstein bill slightly less of a horror show by exempting the issue of nuclear power plant safety from the bill… One accident-- which could be caused by the power of nature, the negligence of man, or the evil of terrorism-– could doom millions of people. Because of the almost unimaginable disaster that could happen at a nuclear power plant, regulations to prevent accidents or meltdowns in advance are critically important.”
And Brad Miller (D-NC) is unlikely to ever get invited into an Ayn Rand club. He spelled it out on the floor of the House today: