Thursday, September 24, 2015

Far Right Ready To Make Twofer Move-- Shut Down The Government And Oust Boehner?


Weepy John Boehner is Catholic (as well as alcoholic) and he's crowing up a storm about how he invited Pope Francis to address Congress and how historic that is. And he's correct, and I think most Americans would agree. But some in the House Republican conference definitely do not-- even if they haven't all announced, the way Arizona neanderthal Paul Gosar has, that they're boycotting the Pope over something or other they don't agree with him on-- in Gosar's case, I believe, clean air and water, which Gosar opposes. Some will just stay away and hope they don't get compared in the media to deranged psycho-bigot Ann Coulter-- or Gosar.

Inviting Pope Francis to speak at a joint meeting of Congress, however, isn't why right-wing extremists and libertarians are banding together to try to dump Boehner, again. Even while Republicans, especially a gaggle of vulnerable freshmen in swingy districts, are begging Boehner not to allow the government to be shut down by Ted Cruz and his House allies, the extremists are determined do just that, despite the number of seats it will cost the GOP in 2016. 

In the Senate, New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, up for reelection, is urging her colleagues to ignore Cruz and pass a spending bill immediately. In the House, between 60 and 70 Republicans are taking a similar tack. The freshmen signing on to a letter to Boehner saying so include Ryan Costello (PA), Elise Stefanik (NY), Mimi Walters (CA), Daniel Donovan (NY), John Katko (NY), Carlos Curbelo (FL), Cresent Hardy (NV), Bruce Poliquin (ME), Martha McSally (AZ) and Tom MacArthur (NJ), all of whom except Walters and MacArthur are likely to be defeated if the GOP shuts down the government again.

Writing for The Hill Wednesday, Scott Wong reported on the palpable fear on Capitol Hill that the wingnuts want to shut down the government and dump Boehner.
Talk that conservatives might use a government-funding showdown to overthrow the powerful Ohio Republican has triggered a flurry of behind-the-scenes jockeying among lawmakers eager to move up the leadership ladder.

And that has lawmakers wondering more than ever if Boehner’s days as Speaker are numbered.

“That’s what tells you there’s something afoot. You know there’s some drops of blood in the water, because all the sharks are starting to circle,” said one conservative lawmaker who backs Boehner's ouster.

Conservatives have threatened to shut down the government on Oct. 1 if Congress doesn’t strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood. Boehner thinks a shutdown would be disastrous for the party in an election year, but he also knows conservatives have vowed to move against him if he teams up with Democrats to fund the government.

Publicly, Boehner is projecting confidence, repeatedly telling reporters in recent weeks he has “widespread support” from his GOP conference. But even behind closed doors, Boehner has had to contend with nagging questions about his political future.

At a private fundraiser for a GOP lawmaker last week, a donor asked Boehner whether he was worried about a possible conservative insurrection.

“Look, this group of guys is not going to knock me off my stride,” Boehner replied, according to a source in the room.

“The Speaker isn't going anywhere,” added Boehner spokeswoman Emily Schillinger. “He's focused on the American people's priorities and how we can accomplish them."

A number of Boehner’s close friends and allies have dismissed the coup talk as overblown, insisting he has a firm grip on his conference. Neither they nor anyone they’ve talked to have received phone calls from GOP colleagues seeking support for an imminent leadership race, the allies added.

Rep. Thomas Rooney (R-Fla.) predicted Boehner would “win easily” if a floor vote were called to remove the Speaker in the middle of his third two-year term.

And House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who is part of Boehner’s close-knit circle, attempted to turn the tables on members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, denouncing them as “right-wing Marxists” who have empowered House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) by undermining Boehner.

  “The right-wing Marxists have teamed up with Pelosi. They’re the ones who always team up with Pelosi. They are the Pelosi Republicans,” an infuriated Nunes said in an interview. “The Freedom Caucus is an arm of Pelosi.”

But the reality is that Boehner may need to rely on Pelosi in some capacity if conservatives do bring forward a motion to “vacate” the Speaker’s chair-- a procedural move to effectively boot Boehner out of power.

Pelosi is playing coy about how Democrats might respond to such a motion. All 188 Democrats could team up with roughly 30 Freedom Caucus members to overthrow Boehner and send the House into chaos. But that alliance seems unlikely since Democrats are worried about the prospects of a Tea Party Speaker who could emerge from the dust.
Fox News' Capitol Hill correspondent, Chad Pergram, tweeted his impromptu chat with Steny Hoyer about Democrats' role in this Wednesday afternoon:

Some Democrats have already said they would be inclined to vote to save Boehner's speakership rather than see some teabagging crazy person from the Freedom Caucus take over the chair, but in all likelihood it will be Nancy Pelosi who will make that decision if Boehner needs Democratic help to save himself, something that would send the extremists into a further frenzy of no-holds-barred nihilism and recrimination. Ironically, one of the crazies trying to supplant Boehner is Daniel "Taliban Dan" Webster, who will probably lose reelection next year to progressive Democrat Bob Poe. Others hoping to replace Boehner are Tom Price (R-GA), Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Peter Roskam (R-IL), none of whom are favorites of the radicals doing the heavy lifting to get rid of Boehner.

The editorial board of the Washington Post seemed less sympathetic to Boehner's plight than Hoyer, calling on him to rein in the sociopaths in his own party, something he's obviously incapable of doing.
The leader best positioned to spare us this season of costly uncertainty is Mr. Boehner. Yes, President Obama makes the task harder by insisting on “dollar for dollar” equality in increases in domestic and military spending, contrary to most Republicans’ preferences. And, yes, a lot of the chaos in the House is beyond Mr. Boehner’s control, in that it reflects pressure on the GOP caucus from a party base gripped by the delusion that the majority they sent to Congress should have been able to shift policy far to the right despite Mr. Obama’s veto power.

Still, as Mr. Boehner himself undoubtedly realizes, the ultras in his caucus are not only acting contrary to the national interest, but they are also acting contrary to the Republican Party’s own long-term political interest. By demonstrating the impossibility of overcoming a Democratic filibuster on defunding Planned Parenthood, Mr. McConnell’s plan may help House holdouts see reason. If it does not, however, the speaker must guarantee continued government funding, even if it means passing a bill with support of Democrats. No doubt that might trigger an internal rebellion and put his speakership at risk. A leader would take the chance.
Also in the Post, Greg Sargent warns Republicans that they're being scammed by GOP presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, who have been insisting that if Republicans shut down the government, voters will blame the Democrats.
It’s worth noting, however, that when conservatives say this-- particularly those running for president-- they’re not actually talking about Democrats. Rather, they’re talking about GOP leaders-- or, to put it another way, they’re talking to conservative voters about GOP leaders.

Republicans who want to use the coming government funding fight to defund Planned Parenthood-- a strategy that GOP leaders have denounced as hopeless folly-- like to argue that the GOP won’t take the blame if the government does shut down. Senate Dems would filibuster, or President Obama would veto, any government funding bill that defunds Planned Parenthood. So Republicans can argue that Obama and Dems are refusing to fund the government because of their commitment to keeping Planned Parenthood in business, even after the fetal tissue videos shocked the country. . . .

But Rubio, Cruz, and company surely remember they made this argument two years ago. They also surely know the history confirms that government funding fights politically and structurally favor presidents over Congresses, and that Dems won’t cave this time, either. They know GOP leaders will ultimately keep the government open again by passing funding with the help of Democrats, if necessary. We are usually told (until he caves) that Speaker John Boehner won’t dare do this because it will unleash conservative fury that will cost him his job. Yet this time, intimations to that effect are taking on a sad quality: House conservatives are threatening to get behind Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a coup attempt; and even though McCarthy has said it’s utter nonsense, those conservatives won’t let go of the idea.

So Rubio, Cruz, and other conservatives know how this will end. And that’s what this whole ruse is really about.

Their argument that Democrats will take the blame for a shutdown isn’t actually about somehow spooking Dems into fearing this fight or persuading GOP leaders to adopt this shutdown strategy and stick to it. They know GOP leaders won’t actually do that. Rather, their argument is targeted to conservatives voters: it’s designed to keep alive the illusion that there was indeed a way to win the battle if only GOP leaders had the stomach to see it through to the end.

Enhancing the hall of mirrors effect in play here, this is exactly what makes it possible to simply repeat the same argument two years later. The fact that Republicans lost previous government shutdown fights, which should ideally cast doubt on that argument and strategy, is-- poof!-- easily transformed into more fodder for the idea that Republicans only lose these fights due to a failure of will. Republican Congressional leaders have become the preferred pummeling dummies for presidential candidates who want to persuade conservative primary voters that they have cracked the code that has tormented them for years: Why can’t the GOP succeed in rolling back the Obama agenda?

This is a painfully obvious trick. Yet it actually seems to work. Senator Cruz, for instance, is circulating audio of an appearance on Sean Hannity’s show, in which Hannity said:
“This is a big part of the message that is keeping you in the top tier of candidates, which is that you are taking on the idea that Republicans do not fight. They don’t fight on immigration. They don’t use their constitutional authority on health care. Again and again. And I would argue they won’t end up doing it on Planned Parenthood, either. But you’re the guy saying, ‘These are our values, these are our promises.’ And yet they won’t stand with you.”
You’ll be startled to hear that Senator Cruz wholeheartedly endorsed Hannity’s analysis.

Today, in his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove was decrying a government shutdown as a waste of tme. No Rove isn't turning RINO. But he recognizes a scam when he sees one. "Some in the GOP," he wrote, "say that unless Planned Parenthood is defunded, they’re willing to shut down the federal government-- which would be a disaster for the pro-life cause."
Only 41% of Americans support cutting off taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, and 51% oppose it, according to an Aug. 25 Quinnipiac University poll. Only 22% favor a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding; 69% oppose the idea. When pollsters asked who voters would blame more for such a shutdown, 41% said Republicans in Congress and 33% President Obama and Democrats.

These numbers help explain why the nation’s largest, most influential pro-life group, the National Right to Life Committee, doesn’t support a government shutdown. “Quite frankly, I think Planned Parenthood is a vile organization, and I resent the fact that they get any tax money,” NRLC President Carol Tobias told the New York Times. “But realistically, with President Obama in the White House holding that veto pen, I don’t know that any government shutdown could accomplish what we want.”

...Pro-life leaders understand that the 2013 government shutdown damaged the Republican Party. The GOP’s favorable rating after the 2012 election stood at 43%, according to Gallup, but dropped during the shutdown to 28%—a record low for either party.

Supporters of the 2013 shutdown claim otherwise. After all, they argue, by the 2014 election, the GOP’s Gallup rating had climbed back to 42%, and Republicans won nine additional Senate seats and added 13 House seats. But those victories were despite the shutdown, not because of it. No new senator or representative campaigned by promising more shutdowns.

If right-to-life leaders oppose a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, why are some Republicans so intent on trying to force one? A few presidential hopefuls seem to want a shutdown to burnish their credentials with primary voters. But they cannot explain how they will get the votes to pass the defunding measure or overcome a presidential veto. Without such a plan, this is simply self-promotion.

At least 31 congressmen have signed a letter circulated by South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney saying that they will not vote for any budget that funds Planned Parenthood. They, too, lack a strategy to get a defunding measure signed into law. Some of these congressmen would use a failure to defund Planned Parenthood as an excuse to get Republicans to vote with the Democrats to kick John Boehner out as speaker. Since the Republican signatories are from safe districts-- they received an average 66% of the vote in 2014-- they are perhaps not bothered by the damage a shutdown will do to the GOP in battleground states or marginal districts.

UPDATE ONE: Boehner To Resign

He'll give up the Speakership and his House seat the day before Halloween. More to follow.

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At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The GOP’s favorable rating after the 2012 election stood at 43%, according to Gallup, but dropped during the shutdown to 28%—a record low for either party."

Yeah, and if the election had been held then, it would have been disastrous for Republicans. But it wasn't held then and by the time 2014 rolled around, Democrats in both houses got stomped like otherly-abled little animals.

This is the calculus that W and Rove understood: you get your three minutes of democracy every two years or so and then pretty much everyone who bothers to vote forgets what had happened and how things were more than a few weeks before the next election.

Democrats on the other hand are constantly worried about winning this news cycle, about how a policy idea polls today, thirteen months before the next election. It doesn't matter. What matters is how voters feel on election day. If they have jobs and their wallets have money in them and their kids are doing OK at decent schools, then the incumbents mostly get another chance. Winning every news cycle and plumping unemployment figures which do not measure the continuing severe economic pain out here beyond DC, Manhattan, and Silicon Valley will not win elections, however much Democrats really really want to believe they will.

Federal employees will remember that they got screwed by a shutdown and pro-choice voters will remember that it was over defunding Planned Parenthood. But they already vote for Democrats.

As the article says this attempt is not aimed at convincing all voters to punish Democrats 13 months hence. It is about convincing dimwitted Republicans to punish their "moderate" leadership a few months - or possibly days - hence.

BTW, Tom Price must be one of the creepiest guys in the House. He once leered and practically licked his lips at a nice-looking, very young male LA of mine so nastily that I grabbed the kid and hustled him off before something untoward happened.


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