Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Congress Is Back In Session Today: Does Paul Ryan Have A #BetterWay To Shut Down The Government?


Congress is back in town and the first thing up is an intractable Republican-created controversy that, thankfully, doesn't involve-- at least not so far-- El Trumpanzee! Instead of rushing to fund the president's Zika proposals, like they should have a year ago, the GOP immediately started bickering about shutting down the government. Although he says electing Señor Trumpanzee is integral to his repackaged hash of bad, failed austerity ideas (AKA, a "Better Way"), Ryan's congenital inability to keep his corner of the government functioning even minimally pre-dates the rise of Trumapnzee-ism in the GOP.

The Republicans have hefty majorities in both Houses of Congress, but both are so riven with back-biting, petty feuds, ideological crackpottery and mutual hatreds, that the legislative branch of government is just mired in anomie-- and that's even before the Democrats weigh in! Ryan has until September 30-- about 3 weeks-- to get his tits together or Social Security checks stop going out, military funding shuts down and the U.S. starts looking like a banana republic on world markets again. History tells us who voters blame when the Republicans pull this kind of crap.

So, when does early voting start, you dumb-ass Republican cry-babies?

House GOP extremists, filled with rage at Ryan for sabotaging Tim Huelskamp's reelection, and allied with all the Koch-funded outside groups that always want to shut down the government anyway, are making their move. They say they don't care if the GOP loses the election because of a shutdown and that unless they get spending cuts to programs they hate-- like social services, health care, education, anything that helps working families-- they will shut the government down (and hold their breath 'til everyone turns blue). Matt Fuller captured their mentality for HuffPo readers last week when he quoted one Freedom Caucus brainiac spewing:
"How can you have a gang, and have one in your gang get stabbed, and do nothing? You got to stab somebody, or else what’s the point of having a gang?"
Yes, that's what controls how the congressional Republicans operate today-- and their case for being reelected as the majority party. Imagine that mentality mixed in with a dose of Señor Trumpanzee and you have a recipe for the end of the United States of America.

They want to use the threat of shutting down the government to cut spending, cripple their own party's Speaker and ruin his chances to run for president in the future and they are demanding Congress impeach an IRS Commissioner they have a hair up their collective ass about immediately. Zika? Climate change? The threat to voting rights? None of that matters much in their dysfunctional, inbred, crazy little world. Instead GOP nuts-- not just Freedom Caucus members but lunatics like Lamar Smith (R-TX), Frank Guinta (R-NH), Peter King (R-NY), Cresent Hardy (R-NV), Fred Upton (R-MI), each with his own ax to grind-- are gearing up for pre-election civil war.

Goal Thermometer Paul Clements, the progressive Democrat running against House Energy and Commerce Committee chair, Fred Upton, in southwest Michigan, is aiming to replace one of the members of Congress responsible for more messes than just about any other individual member. You think the Freedom Caucus are the bad guys? Upton, through his committee chair, has overseen almost every bad thing Congress has done-- and not done in it many years. Yesterday Clements told us that "when Fred Upton has a Tea Party challenger he won’t let anyone call him moderate. The rest of the time he makes an effort to look moderate about once every two years. Twenty percent of the children in his district go to school hungry sometimes, and he votes to cut food stamps. He has done about-faces on support for Planned Parenthood, strengthening Medicare, and the reality of climate change. But after blocking serious action on Zika, now suddenly it’s a priority. After blocking imports of generic drugs from Canada, now we have to get to the bottom of the EpiPen price rise. But don’t let the johnny-come-lately fool you." Please think about chipping in what you can for the grassroots campaign Clements is running in Michigan by tapping on the thermometer on the right.

Ryan and McCarthy hope to avoid the whole mess by making a deal with Pelosi to pass a short-term continuing resolution and adjourning Congress as fast as possible and then letting the lame duck and the next Congress handle all the hard stuff that Ryan doesn't have the capabilities to deal with. And in the middle of this ugly atmosphere, he and Obama are trying to sneak the TPP through in some kind of a deal that will infuriate the whole country and is already angering members of both parties. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) don't usually find themselves on the same side of the battlefield, but on pushing through the TPP as part of a "compromise deal," during a lame duck session, they are exactly on the same side, if with differing intent. Mulvaney: "[A lame duck session is] the least accountable time for Congress. We let people who have either quit or been fired or retired vote on spending billions and billions of taxpayer dollars after their period of accountability has ended. This is something that is supposed to be Republican orthodoxy: that the least accountable government is the worst government."

And Grijalva's outlook is more in line with progressive thinking in Congress. "What worries me is the Christmas tree effect. Empowering a lame-duck Congress to do a lot of things... I think that would be very dangerous. Let's do it in a new Congress and a new administration."


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