November 28, 2015
Donald Trump has defied conventional wisdom. Most people expected him to crash and burn by now. But many small business people like him because they are fed up with government regulations. There are many small businesses out there that make up a base for him. Each town has many small businesses, such as in Bel Air, MD there is Alcore Corp, Arena Club, belairstairsrailings.com, Broadcreek Memorial Camp, Comer Construction, grillsensations.net, Harford Systems, Leidos Engineering, and many more.
October 17, 2015
The next Republican Party debate is coming up October 28. It is always good for some interesting theater. Especially with so many candidates it is like a 3 ring circus. But the big deal of course will be election night for the general election. With both parties throwing parties, everything comes to a standstill in Washington. Getting a taxi or a limo is almost impossible.
November 16, 2015
With so many Republicans running for President, the ones at the back of the field are struggling to figure out new strategies to get more visibility and traction. With Trump and Carson sucking the energy from everyone else, what to do? The New York Times had an interesting article about this, summarized below.
Will the Leaders Falter?
O’Malley, the long shot on the Democratic side has said that the front runners at the beginning usually aren’t the ones who are ahead at the end. The Democrats would probably love it if Donald Trump or Ben Carson ended up breaking that rule and being the Republican Presidential candidate. They may appeal to Republicans, but the chances of them taking enough independents to win seems doubtful.
Is New Hampshire the Promised Land?
Jeb Bush , who has not done well in the debates to a lot of people’s surprise. He is trying to set a fire break in New Hampshire. He is giving up Iowa figuring that his chances with the religious conservatives there are slim, so he is concentrating all his effort in New Hampshire. He figures if he can do well there, that can propel him forward in the states that follow.
Chris Christie spent some time with students at Dartmouth and Governor John Kasich was in Portsmouth at a driving range and then talking with Rotary Club members. Some topics were climate change and amazingly, the Republicans are still flogging the horse of voting fraud and whether dead people were voting in different states. People in New Hampshire take their role seriously and Gov. Kasich feels that running ads alone won’t cut it in New Hampshire. You need to be there, on the ground, talking to people.
Is New Hampshire Losing its Cachet?
But times are changing and many people wonder whether New Hampshire can be a game changer any more. The problems include the large number of candidates running and the number of nationally televised debates. Then there is the increasing influence of social media.
Republican leaders in New Hampshire feel that the nationally televised debates is not the right way of going about picking a candidate. They feel that the more personal method that takes place in New Hampshire is better. The people there are very diligent and take their role very seriously.
Christie and Bush’s Thoughts on New Hampshire, Debates and Digital Campaigns
Chris Christie is putting a lot of emphasis on New Hampshire and has been to 41 events since August. He feels that the debates only have temporary impacts. That may be because he is not polling well enough to make the top tier of debates. He used Carly Fiorina as an example saying that she got a pop from the second debate but has fallen back since.
Mr. Bush who is low key hasn’t done as well in the debates which have rewarded people who are more confrontational. But as Bush has pointed out that digital campaigning doesn’t allow for nuance and irony that is more a strength of Bush.
McCain and Romney got a boost in New Hampshire that they rode all the way to the Republican Presidential candidacy. Can that still be done? We will find out.
If New Hampshire becomes less important it will have a big economic impact on New Hampshire. The state gets a lot of income because of all the candidates spending every four years. Without that, they would be in a more precarious financial position. So New Hampshire definitely hopes that the TV debates and online coverage doesn’t decrease their importance.
November 6, 2015
In 2011, there were 87 new Republicans elected to the House. Many were elected in the wave of Tea Party sentiment that wanted to shake things up in Washington. Many wondered whether they would temper their views over time in Washington or whether they would move Washington more to their point of view.
Bending Washington to Their Will
They don’t seem to have changed their views at all, if anything have hardened their opinions and are less willing to compromise if they ever were. The Republican majority has been helped by the increasing influence of conservative media as well as gerrymandered districts. (Although gerrymandering has helped Democrats in other states. It is unfortunate because it makes states redder or bluer and less purple which might cause people to move to the middle instead of going to the edges of the spectrum.)
Their original target was discretionary government spending but they have had a number of major impacts:
- Discretionary spending has dropped to 6.5% from 9.1% of the economy in just 5 years, 2010 to 2015.
- Social issue fights have been resurrected and are in full swing
- Gridlock – It is much harder to get things done.
- The government shutdown in 2013
- They almost closed Homeland Security
- They forced John Boehner to resign
Out of the group, there are about 40 who are part of the Freedom Caucus. They originally found common cause in reducing the size of the federal government. Now they are targeting all sorts of Obama policies. They have really honed in on funding for Planned Parenthood.
More than these other things though, they seem to want power. They don’t seem to realize or care that they are a distinct minority within the Republican Party much less the United States. They want a greater say in how the House of Representatives is run and in how legislation is written and the process that it makes its way through the House. They figure that by changing the rules by which the House operates that they can get more power and influence.
They are being supported by their constituents at home. At least they think they are. Of course, the constituents who really like what they are doing are giving them positive feedback. Even though these people are a minority just as these Congressmen are in the minority. But it creates an echo chamber of self reinforcement and congratulations.
They tend to come from rural areas in the south and the west.
October 23, 2015
Paul Ryan said that he had no interest in being Speaker of the House. Although he is very conservative, he may not be conservative for the Freedom Caucus and other extreme right wing Republicans in the House of Representatives.
When it appeared no one was going to satisfy everyone, a number of people suggested Ryan. He still said no, probably smartly because right now it looks like it would be hard for anyone to keep the House in order. It is almost like there are two Republican Parties and they are at war with each other. However, with pressure mounting, Ryan said he might do it if everyone was in agreement and willing to work together. (Sorry Paul, but fat chance.)
Ryan Has the Votes?
This Wednesday it looks as if Ryan now has enough votes to lock up the election. He would get some but not all of the votes from the Freedom Caucus. He had been looking for a unanimous vote. Now apparently he is thinking that this might be good enough.
Interestingly, this is almost back where we were with Boehner. The exception is that Boehner could have been elected but because the Freedom Caucus wouldn’t vote for him, he would have needed Democratic votes to get in. Something he didn’t want. Besides other problems and gaffes, this was Kevin McCarthy’s problem as well. It appears that Ryan can now get elected with just Republican votes.
A Split or More Intransigence?
Interestingly, all of this may have caused a split within the Freedom Caucus and made it a little bit less coherent and a bit less to be feared? Yet at the same time, outside conservative groups are starting to push back against Ryan. Republican voters are in a feisty mood as well. A recent poll showed a desire for a new Speaker who is not quick to compromise. They don’t even care if it leads to a government shut down. (We thought politics was about the art of the compromise. Not, I will go home if I don’t get my way.)
The Freedom Caucus wants some changes that decreases the power of the Speaker. Ryan may be willing to go along with some but wants something in return. He wants to make it harder to have a procedural vote to oust the Speaker. This is what happened to Boehner and the conservatives consider it one of their most potent weapons. Ryan has told some of his compatriots that he doesn’t mind getting shot from the front but he doesn’t want to get shot from the back. Still an interesting circus.
October 10, 2015
Well, things just got stranger. First John Boehner and now Kevin McCarthy. It seems like no one wants to be Speaker of the House. Just minutes before the Republicans were supposed to vote for their nominee to be Speaker of the House, McCarthy pulled out. The Huffington Post had a good article about the event.
No one doubted that he would win the nomination. And since the Republicans are in the majority, that means he would have won over whatever Democratic candidate was selected and become the Speaker.
Apparently he needed 218 votes to beat the Democrats and felt that he couldn’t get that many because of the hard conservatives in the Republican Party. This doesn’t make a lot of sense because they weren’t likely to vote in favor of a Democrat.
He actually ceded the point while talking to reporters afterwards. He knew he could win, but he felt that it would be stronger if the Republican Party had a candidate that could get a unanimous vote from the Republicans. Get a vote for all 247 of them. He felt that maybe a new face was needed that everyone could unite behind.
There are 25 conservative members who have blocked legislation or altered legislation that Boehner wanted. Because of House rule changes and the fact that there are no longer earmarks, the Speaker and leaders of the ruling party no longer have as much influence. One of the conservative block felt that McCarthy’s decision was seat of the pants and was typical of the way the old guard was running things, with no long term planning.
In Europe, the parliaments cobble together coalitions. If a right party and a far right party can’t work together, then the right party might work with another party that was in the center. This is happening somewhat in Congress. The only reason that the government didn’t shut down recently was that Boehner got votes from Democrats. He couldn’t get enough from his own party to keep the government operating.
Moderate Republicans see that it is likely that they will need to make more alliances with the Democrats. This may even include electing the next Speaker of the House.
Does that mean that the conservatives shot themselves in the foot and they might end up with a more liberal Leader than McCarthy? McCarthy is pretty conservative and helped get a lot of these renegades elected. So it is a very odd situation.
McCarthy will continue as House Leader which is the number two position in Congress. He also gave as an influencing factor in his decision, his comments about the Benghazi investigating committee and Hillary Clinton. He commended them for hurting Clinton politically and later said he could have said it much better. However, he has been getting heat for the comments.
The conservatives feel this is a great things an opens things up. They also feel that because their candidate, Daniel Webster, had played spoiler that this made him now the front runner. This despite the fact that this hard conservative group makes up a small percentage of all the Republicans in Congress. We shall see.
October 3, 2015
John Boehner saw his announcement of resigning from his position of Speaker of the House as leading to more unity in the Republican Party. However it seems to be having the opposite effect as pointed out in a NY Times article.
His move has made the hard right Congressmen and Presidential candidates even more emboldened than even before. The Republicans think of themselves as disciplined and orderly, but they have been anything but recently.
The top 3 Republican presidential candidates have never run for or held an elected position before. Dozens of the Congressmen were elected in 2010 or 2012 and were elected with the goal of dramatically reducing the size of the federal government.
And the Supreme Court decision that allows unlimited political donations has allowed billionaires to back individual candidates and has reduced the influence of the national party.
The dramatic split in the Republican Party is going to make it even harder for any legislation to get passed, particularly anything of significance.
Rather than Boehner’s departure smoothing differences, it seems like both sides are digging in and getting more intransigent. The more mainstream Republicans (it would be hard to call any Republican moderate anymore) are starting to push back at the tactics of the hard right. They say their tactics have accomplished nothing and have cost the Republican Party and sullied its reputation.
John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio who is running for president, asks if the hard right are just yelling and screaming. They were elected to get something accomplished and they have been ineffective at best and disruptive and having a negative impact at worst.
Many Republicans are so focussed on career politicians being bad and wanting a turnover in leadership that Marco Rubio, Senator and presidential candidate and career politician is trying to portray himself as a change agent.
The hard line group has about 50 members. That is not enough to get anything done and they have not put any reasonable candidate forward for Speaker who is electable by the whole House. It is expected that Boehner’s number two, Kevin McCarthy will succeed him as Speaker.
The hardliners feel that there hasn’t been any real change and wanted to shut the government down again but were thwarted by the Republican leadership and the Democrats. The leadership felt it would just hurt the Republicans again, just like the last time.
The hardliners are likely to try and prevent raising the debt limit and to shut down the Import Export bank.
Politicians are supposed to be expert in the art of dialogue and compromise. The hardliners don’t seem to have any clue about either concept. They are just angry that the Republicans don’t have 60 people in the Senate to prevent Democratic filibusters and they don’t have a two thirds majority in the House to be able to override a presidential veto. They just seem to be stewing in their own juices. And because of their vitriol, they are making it ever less likely that they will get the 60 or the two thirds. To get those extra seats, they need to pick up more seats in swing states. They are so short sighted and idealistic that they don’t even seem to realize that they are hurting themselves and their goals. One Republican fundraiser says that moving further to the right is suicidal.
Perhaps they should realize there is a reason that billionaires want them in office. Did they ever stop to think that perhaps that they were being used by the billionaires and against the population in general?
One congressman said they should come together and come up with a plan before they come up with a person. Good idea but he probably won’t be listened to.
In the presidential election, the candidates have a tightrope to walk. They need to keep the base energized, they don’t want to upset the large donors who don’t want to lose three presidential elections in a row, and they also need to be able to appeal to enough independents to win in the general election. Tough to do. The fundraiser said that if Ted Cruz was the Republican nominee for president that that they would lose in 45 states. He feels a peace maker and bridge builder is needed and not a flame thrower.
Some people feel that because of this that people like Jeb Bush will bounce back in the presidential race. They say though that if the hardliners shut the government down, the Republicans can kiss the presidential general election goodbye.
September 28, 2015
John Boehner was thinking of resigning anyway, just not this soon. He had had enough of the hardliners, the far right conservative wing of the Republican party, which considering how far to the right the party has moved anyway has got to be really far to the right. They were making his life hell and Boehner is not exactly liberal. After meeting the pope, Boehner decided to move his time table up and announced his pending resignation a couple of days later.
But he wasn’t leaving without taking some swipes at the hardliners who had made his life difficult. He went on the CBS show, Face the Nation, and warned against false prophets in the Republican Party making promises that were unrealistic. They are still going on about repealing the health care law passed under Obama known as Obamacare and more recently are trying to prevent any taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, even to the point of threatening another government shutdown.
Boehner in the past had called one of the “tea-party” leaders, Ted Cruz, a jackass and referred the interviewer back to that comment, essentially saying that he stood by the comment. Boehner feels that they are unrealistic and the the bible warns of false prophets and that they are promising far more than they can deliver. They are portraying a view of what they would like to have happen, but not what is likely to happen.
McConnell’s Prediction for 2016
Without Boehner leading the House of Representatives, Mitch McConnell’s role as leader of the Senate becomes even more important / influential. In the last year, talking about the chance of the Republicans winning the next Presidential election, he said that it would depend on whether the Republicans could show that they could govern now that they had control of the House and the Senate.
But they are threatening to shut down the government by attaching Planned Parenthood funding to the budget bill. Not long after that, they will threaten again over increasing the Federal Debt Limit, and they are also creating havoc over federal transportation funding. This makes it difficult to get long term projects started that could make a difference because they keep doing short extensions. Based on McConnell’s prediction, not looking good for 2016.
Boehner called it a fool’s errand, referring back to 2013 when the conservative wing of the Republicans shut the government down by trying to get Obamacare repealed in exchange for passing the budget. Obama would have vetoed whatever was done. There was no way it was going to work. Boehner is still upset that he let himself get talked into that one because it hurt the party.
Boehner pointed out that you need compromise. Our system was designed to change slowly and by negotiation and give and take. It is not like the British parliamentary system that allows the majority to do pretty much what they want. It will be interesting to see what happens going forward.
September 26, 2015
This blog, Ron Paul Tool Bar, will give commentary on the Republicans, the Libertarians and politics in general. It is every bit as good as a soap opera on TV.
We hope you will come back to see what interesting tidbits we have uncovered. More soon!