#23 Aug 5, 2013
"National Journal's Ron Fournier seems to realize that when it comes to sequestration politics, President Obama "has reached farther toward compromise than House Republicans." But Fournier wants to blame the president anyway.
In any enterprise, the chief executive is ultimately accountable for success and failure. Sure, blame Congress -- castigate all 535 lawmakers, or the roughly half you hate. But there is only one president. Even if he's right on the merits, Obama may be on the wrong side of history.
Fair or not, the president owns this mess.
I realize that many may find this line of thought appealing. Americans like to think of their president, no matter who's in office, as the most powerful person on the planet. The president is the Leader of the Free World and the Commander in Chief. He's the Top Dog, the Big Cheese, the one with whom the buck stops.
But let's not abandon our appreciation for Civics 101 for the sake of rhetorical convenience.
For Fournier, Obama is the president and "in any enterprise, the chief executive is ultimately accountable for success and failure." That would make sense if we were talking about a business or even a parliamentary system of government. But as I hope most observers realize, Obama is the "chief executive" of one branch. He's certainly not the "chief executive" of Congress, which remains a co-equal branch in the American system.
In other words, as tempting as it is to believe otherwise, a president cannot tell a Congress what to do. When part of Congress is led by a quantifiably-extreme party that hates the president with the heat of a thousand suns, a president has an especially difficult time telling a Congress what to do.
Which brings us back to the sequester nonsense.
Obama has played by the rules the establishment media has asked him to follow -- the president tried to stop congressional Republicans from crashing the economy on purpose; he accepted deep spending cuts; he adopted over $2.4 trillion in debt reduction even when economists said debt reduction shouldn't be at the top of the economic to-do list; he accepted far less tax revenue than his campaign platform sought; he put entitlement "reforms" on the table; he offered "grand bargains"; and with brutal sequestration cuts looming, he endorsed a 50-50 compromise that required concessions from both sides, all while leaving the door open to additional negotiations.
Short of simply ignoring public will and giving Republicans exactly what they've asked for, it's hard to think of literally anything the president hasn't already tried to avoid this and related messes, only to find rivals who are far more ideologically rigid, far more devoted to the whims of their extremist base; and far less open to compromise.
And yet, despite these demonstrable truths, there's Ron Fournier, insisting the president "owns this mess" anyway, even if Obama's "right on the merits." Why? Because he's the president.
If Congress did not exist, I might find this argument persuasive.
Postscript: Fournier's piece also endorses an op-ed from a congressional Republican who argued that government spending "has increased by $1 trillion every year since 2008." The Fournier op-ed presents the claim as fact, but it's important that the public realize how spectacularly wrong this is.
#24 Aug 5, 2013
"While Republican divisions are not uncommon, it's rare when conservative GOP senators, asked about a prominent idea from other conservative GOP senators, say, it's "the dumbest idea I've ever heard of."
Indeed, even today, the divisions are becoming more pronounced. Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)-- not exactly a New England moderate from the Rockefeller wing -- told MSNBC the plan from his far-right colleagues is "silly" and not at all "courageous." Around the same time, the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, relying on a strained metaphor, argued that conservatives must "stop the train. Stop it dead in its tracks before more damage is done. If this means disrupting the quiet car that so many in the Republican establishment enjoy riding in, so be it."
No, you're not the only one who found it amusing to see Bill Kristol -- Bill Kristol!-- complaining about the "Republican establishment."
You'll also notice, incidentally, that House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and none of the other members of the GOP congressional leadership in either chamber make the above list. There's a good a good reason for that: in this Congress, Republican leaders are generally afraid to lead, and prefer to wait on the sidelines where they won't get hurt.
Regardless, as we look ahead, there are two principal questions to consider: whether the shutdown scheme will come to fruition and what these over-the-top antics will mean in the larger legislative context.
On the former, I think it's safe to say the unhinged wing of the GOP is going to be disappointed. To actually shut down the government because Democrats refused to take health care away from millions of struggling families is, for lack of a better word, hopelessly insane, and to pull this off, Republicans would need a united front. As the above image should help reinforce, these guys are anything but united.
As such, even the ring leaders of the scheme see the writing on the wall.
The conservative plan to use the resolution that funds the government to cripple the president's health-care law has a problem, according to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz: other Republicans.
"The problem right now is we don't have Republicans willing to stand up and do this," Cruz said Monday on The Andrea Tantaros Show, a conservative radio program.
Soon after, Cruz hung out with Glenn Beck -- Glenn Beck!-- to whine about those darned congressional Republicans who are too "scared" to start undermining the nation on purpose.
Of course, this isn't necessarily an awful scenario for Cruz -- he gets to rant and rave with impunity for the next several weeks, knowing that none of his rhetoric will actually affect public policy. The manufactured drama makes Cruz look weak and ineffectual, but that hardly matters to the senator -- the Texas Republican has no real intention of legislating anyway.
This isn't to say the pro-shutdown caucus is giving up - more than 50 right-wing groups co-signed a letter of support yesterday, rallying behind the Rubio/Cruz/Lee threat -- but there's generally an understanding that this is a scheme with a short shelf life.
But is there any larger significance to this? Maybe. It's certainly problematic when a struggling political party is pitted against itself over the merits of a radical scheme, but there may be other practical considerations to keep in mind.
In the House, for example, if a good chunk of the majority caucus is convinced that they have to defund "Obamacare," it means GOP leaders will have to rely on quite a few Democratic votes to approve a continuing resolution to prevent a shutdown. Will Nancy Pelosi and Democratic leaders leverage this opportunity? You better believe it.
It's always been one of the more entertaining aspects of GOP radicalism: more often than not, it's self-defeating."
#25 Aug 5, 2013
Bad news 'Oh man' but nobody reads your stupid rants.
#26 Aug 5, 2013
No Sh*t, that's why you don't ever know what you're talking about!
#27 Aug 5, 2013
I know why you don't read them, because I don't care to discuss the many objects you like to stick in your butt hole.
#28 Aug 5, 2013
"Just to be clear, Iím not talking about policy substance. I may believe that Republicans have their priorities all wrong, but thatís not the issue here. Instead, Iím talking about their apparent inability to accept very basic reality constraints, like the fact that you canít cut overall spending without cutting spending on particular programs, or the fact that voting to repeal legislation doesnít change the law when the other party controls the Senate and the White House.
Am I exaggerating? Consider what went down in Congress last week.
First, House leaders had to cancel planned voting on a transportation bill, because not enough representatives were willing to vote for the billís steep spending cuts. Now, just a few months ago House Republicans approved an extreme austerity budget, mandating severe overall cuts in federal spending ó and each specific bill will have to involve large cuts in order to meet that target. But it turned out that a significant number of representatives, while willing to vote for huge spending cuts as long as there werenít any specifics, balked at the details. Donít cut you, donít cut me, cut that fellow behind the tree.
Then House leaders announced plans to hold a vote cutting spending on food stamps in half ó a demand that is likely to sink the already struggling effort to agree with the Senate on a farm bill.
Then they held the pointless vote on Obamacare, apparently just to make themselves feel better.(Itís curious how comforting they find the idea of denying health care to millions of Americans.) And then they went home for recess, even though the end of the fiscal year is looming and hardly any of the legislation needed to run the federal government has passed.
In other words, Republicans, confronted with the responsibilities of governing, essentially threw a tantrum, then ran off to sulk.
How did the G.O.P. get to this point? On budget issues, the proximate source of the partyís troubles lies in the decision to turn the formulation of fiscal policy over to a con man. Representative Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has always been a magic-asterisk kind of guy ó someone who makes big claims about having a plan to slash deficits but refuses to spell out any of the all-important details. Back in 2011 the Congressional Budget Office, in evaluating one of Mr. Ryanís plans, came close to open sarcasm; it described the extreme spending cuts Mr. Ryan was assuming, then remarked, tersely,ďNo proposals were specified that would generate that path.Ē
#29 Aug 5, 2013
"Whatís happening now is that the G.O.P. is trying to convert Mr. Ryanís big talk into actual legislation ó and is finding, unsurprisingly, that it canít be done. Yet Republicans arenít willing to face up to that reality. Instead, theyíre just running away.
When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game. And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything.
Think of it this way: For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the partyís base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities ó deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy.
At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told ó for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate donít do anything for people like them.(Donít let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment canít get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to.
The result is what we see now in the House: a party that, as I said, seems unable to participate in even the most basic processes of governing.
What makes this frightening is that Republicans do, in fact, have a majority in the House, so America canít be governed at all unless a sufficient number of those House Republicans are willing to face reality. And that quorum of reasonable Republicans may not exist."
And Paul Krugman is correct! You bozo's believe anything your inept leaders tells you to believe!
#30 Aug 5, 2013
Republicans hate themselves and their very own ideas, IF anyone decides to try them!!!!
"On entitlements, for example, Republicans said they wanted the president to accept chained-CPI. When Obama grudgingly agreed, the GOP changed its mind and said the idea it sought constitutes "a shocking attack on seniors." On health care, Republicans endorsed an individual mandate as part of a reform plan. When the president reversed course on the idea and added the provision to his own plan, the GOP changed its mind and said their idea was proof of "tyranny."
On taxes, Republicans have demanded a lower corporate tax rate for years. When Obama announced he could accept the idea as part of a compromise, the GOP flipped the script again, chastising Obama for being beholden to Big Business by accepting the idea Republicans demanded.
The pattern is hard to miss:(1) the GOP makes a demand; (2) Obama is willing to accept the demand as part of a compromise; (3) Republicans reject the idea they came up with.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), apparently competing for the Year's Best Example of Chutzpah Award, wrote a USA Today op-ed last week, arguing, "The president claims his economic agenda is for the middle class. But it's actually for the well-connected."
Paul Ryan thinks Barack Obama's compromise offers are too tilted towards the rich.
It's as if Ryan believes Americans are idiots, incapable of looking at his own budget plan, which rewrites the social contract to redistribute wealth from the bottom up.
I rather doubt this will persuade the American mainstream, in large part because no one who's listened to Republicans since 2007 could possibly believe Obama is Mr. Corporate Shill, putting the needs of Job Creators over the needs of working families."
They think everyone is stuoid, well, there's only one group who are, it's their base!
#31 Aug 5, 2013
Again more ranting. How do you feel about congressmen having 3 months of vacation time every year?
It's August vacation month right now. So all your 'law makers' can take the month off and spend time at their beach estates.
It goes something like 'There is a bill that we have to vote on to stimulate the economy.'. Senate 'Tough luck because we're on vacation so the American people can suck it.'.
#32 Aug 5, 2013
HAte it frankly, check that House schedule, they've abandoned doing the people's work and left town after leaving Immigration reform, Budget negotiations, and all sorts of othjer bills languishing, oh they DID manage to waste some more time and money first, voting for the 40th time (do you read anything at all?) to repeal the ACA which for the 40th time, IS NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!
What has the 3rd most powerful person in Government scheduled for the September return?
So, the least productive House in US history will work 9 days in September!
How do YOU like that?
I'm sure they'll find time in that 9 days to take another Abortion vote though, for sure, but a Jobs bill, yeah right, that's what they say they care about except, they NEVER do anything about it!
They will instead (do you ever read anything?, if you had, I wouldn't have to explain it to you AGAIN!) hold the economy and the country Hostage again in order to appease they're base at the expense of the country and the people in it!
#33 Aug 5, 2013
What are you talking about?
#34 Aug 5, 2013
In fact, what I would like to see, no Congressman or woman gets paid even a penny unless the Unemployment rate is below 4. Every dime saved goes to Jobs programs until said rate comes down.
How fast do you think they would vote for Jobs bills????
#35 Aug 5, 2013
What you call "ranting" is where the information you wish you knew was, TRY READING IT!!
#36 Aug 5, 2013
I never read ong rants completely, I read the first paragraph and know the rest will be all horse sh!t.
People like you believe the Government is out to help us. Nothing is further from the truth. They are just trying to find new ways to take our money and line their pockets with as little work as possible.
#37 Aug 5, 2013
The reason why nothing ever gets accomplished is because the Dems and Reps can never agree on how much pork they can fit into a bill.
It goes something like 'Yeah we will pass that bill but we all want a schoufer driven limo for free. Response is no! We won't pass it because we want a limo and a private jet.'.
Pro and Con... Progress = moving forward. Congress = moving backwards.
#39 Aug 5, 2013
Hire me,I'm unemployed
#40 Aug 5, 2013
You're an idiot, "it goes something like this"...
I never read anything cuz I'm closed minded. BUT, I think I have all the answers cuz I'm smaat and sh8t. By the way, I have no idea how our American System of Freedom and Liberty happened, why or how it's supposed to work,,what it's for, or my obligation to it.
But I'm a good loud mouth on a comment board.
I recommend the Civics 101 course you skipped out on!
Hint: The Government is what we make it idiot.
#41 Aug 5, 2013
You ain't got nothing dumbass, I have a great job. The question is
Why don't YOU care about high unemployment?
But you like to make quippy little assumptions concerning others right, my work supports you Social Security so you might think to shut your trap about working!
#42 Aug 5, 2013
Oh I think I understand civics. How do you feel about ex-cons over running the city? Why don't you lead by example and move away?
#43 Aug 5, 2013
Ugh, predictable, didn't take you long, Am I Lynch, Am I Sonny, another demon in your head?
You just demonstrated you don't know anything about Civics.
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