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
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