Tag: United States House of Representatives

Punting Power

This is pure BS:

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told This Week he’d “bring the Congress back” to vote on a new resolution authorizing military force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but only if President Barack Obama requested one. Congress has received heaps of criticism for staying out of town during the airstrikes against ISIS, with some suggesting they’re happy to avoid a contentious vote on the issue.

Boehner reprised his line that typically the president initiated the resolution, a position of faux-politesse that the Daily Show already mocked last week. This led George Sephanopoulos [sic] to wonder if Boehner was avoiding the vote because it might split his party ahead of the midterms, something he said was whispered to ABC News political reporter Jeff Zeleny.

Boehner further opines that the existing AUMF is enough for Obama to act on.

One of the reasons Barack Obama has been allowed to usurp so much power is because Congress has allowed him to. Almost all legislative powers reside with Congress, yet they stand around while he rules by executive order, rewrites the laws to his purpose and starts wars on his own. The war-making power lies with Congress. Yet, for the second time, they are allowing the President to start bombing another country. Yes, the President is supposed to ask for their authorization. But they are supposed to assert their authority on this. They should be meeting right now either to give the President the authority to attack Syria or to refuse it. And if he won’t comply, they can exercise the power of the purse to cut the funding.

Stephanopoulos sideswipes the issue by noting this would potentially split the Republican Party. There is a significant fraction that would oppose this but they are still a small minority. The real issue is that the Republicans — like everyone else — have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, ISIS is horrific: a radical Islamist regime that is imposing severe sharia over the regions they control, murdering ethnic and religious minorities and spreading terror over the region. On the other hand, do we really need another boondoggle in the Middle East? Do we really want to spend the treasure and lives needed, even assuming we can destroy ISIS?

It’s a hard debate. I can see why Congress wants to avoid it. But having hard debates is part of their fucking job description. The Civil Rights debate was hard too. So was the Vietnam War. Balancing the budget in the 90’s was hard. But those Congresses argued, debated and eventually voted. They did their job. And they were held responsible for it, a nation that terrifies our current leaders.

This is pure cowardice. It’s the same cowardice the Congress showed in 2003 when, rather than declare war on Iraq, they punted that authority to the President. They didn’t want to oppose it. But they didn’t want to take responsibility if it went wrong. And sure enough, when it went wrong, the Democrats said, “Well, we didn’t declare war on Iraq; we left that decision to Bush!”

Make a decision, guys. Have the debate. We’re dropping bombs on two countries and have over four hundred boots on the ground. If this goes wrong, it’s still on you for failing to stop it. Get your lazy asses back to Washington and do your damned job.

Boehner Flinches from the Abyss

So for all of the stress, the House GOP leadership (including Paul Ryan), a minority of Republican Congressmen, and a majority of Democrats
passed the tax deal they were offered by the Senate. The Rich (less than 1% of the population) got tagged with a 4.6% increase (horrors!) and caps were placed on deductions, among other meaningless items.

I suppose it is palatable since we have at least gotten the remainder of Bush’s tax cuts to remain permanent. Even Grover Norquist has twisted this and basically said that since the tax cuts had expired, those Republicans who voted for this deal were voting for a tax cut, not an increase. Interesting contortion.

But then there’s virtually no spending cut in this deal. The increased revenue is not going to make a dent in the deficit. For all the drama, we slapped a few million wealthy people with a small tax raise and refused to address the fact that spending is out of control. It’s a pathetic failure of the entire political establishment.

It is easy to blast Boehner today, but what choice did he have? Yes, I personally believed it would have been best to go over the cliff and let the chips fall where they may. However, I knew that Boehner wouldn’t do that. He didn’t want to take the blame for tax increases on the middle class (it’s going to happen eventually anyway) and it was too tempting to target the unpopular minority that is top earners. Also, he likes grand, useless compromises for some reason.

On the bright side, around 2/3 of the House GOP broke with Boehner on this deal and hence have political cover. Boehner has set himself up beautifully for the inevitable coup and primary challenge that he has coming.

I would say that he was courageous to do this IF I actually believed that the deal means anything. It doesn’t. It’s too little, too late, and still comes across as a major defeat for the GOP. We could have gotten a tax deal as useless as this one weeks ago and not had the brinksmanship that managed to make Obama look like a triumphant, responsible statesman.

Boehner must not be returned as the Speaker of the House, even if means leaving the post vacant. The real fight is going to be over the debt ceiling and Boehner cannot be counted on to do right either by his party or the nation.

Boehner Stays on Defense

Rep. Boehner apparently misinterpreted conservative demands that he toughen it out on fiscal cliff negotiations.  He came out with a very short press release this morning and did nothing more than tell Obama to take  or leave the GOP’s plan or come up with his own.

I disagree with this approach (yeah, I rarely cut Boehner any slack).  It’s not the President’s job to propose this, it’s Congress’s and specifically the House of Representatives.  Boehner is engaging in needless dick-measuring with Obama when he should instead pass something through the House and let the Democrats explain their votes and vetoes.  This gridlock plays perfectly into the President’s hands and bolsters the media-driven perception (which the electorate is falling for) that the failure of negotiations will be the GOP’s fault.

I’m on board with others who say that the House should simply pass the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles committee.  When the Democrats kill it, let them explain why they wouldn’t support the findings of the President’s bipartisan commission.  We have no truly good options.  Let’s go for the one that most deflects blame.

Putting it back on the President just gives him more ammo to stand up and bitch about Republicans.  Smack the mic out of his hand and make his party do something.

Hey Mr DJ: Brass Balls Edition

The GOP is in disarray!  Congressional Republicans are wavering on taxes as Speaker John Boehner’s eyes well up with tears at the sight of the oncoming fiscal cliff.

What happened?  Obama found his backbone with nothing left to lose now that he has four more years to party it up.  The polls favor his tax increases on the rich and he knows that his media allies will assure that the GOP takes the blame for the resulting tax raises on the middle class, the resulting recession, or both.

Never before has the GOP needed some balls more and yet found them in shorter supply.

A day may come, when the courage of conservatives fails.  When we forsake our oaths to Grover Norquist and break the fellowship of the Tea Party.  That day is not this day.  That day will probably come in December.

This week, we need to gather up and melt down some brass for John Boehner’s balls.  This will require:

1. Any track that uses brass instruments (e.g.: trumpets, saxophones, tubas, trombones)

2. Genres to consider include Big Band, Swing, Jazz, Ska, Blues, etc.

Predictable first selection is In the Mood by Glenn Miller

For last week’s smart shoppers:

pfluffy, who elbowed me in the ribs for that XBox*: Night Boat to Cairo by Madness

Iconoclast, who trampled over me at Best Buy* for the last Blu-Ray copy of The Complete Works of John Hughes Collection: Us and Them by Pink Floyd

Biggie G, who delivered a crippling kick to my kneecap and ran off with the iPad I wanted at the Apple Store*: Super Bad by James Brown

Mississippi Yankee…there I was at Toys R Us*, reaching for that super-cool Thomas the Train set. The second I touched it, MY emerged,  grabbed my hand, and bit it. He didn’t take the train set though.  Just wanted to share the pain. The true spirit of the holidays?  Green Hornet Theme by Al Hirt

*RTFLC thanks its corporate sponsors!

Ceiling Obama’s Fate

I don’t like Speaker Boehner or trust him.  Which just means I have a lot in common with your average conservative Republican congressman (that and skinny-dipping).  It bothers me that this is effectively the most powerful Republican in the federal government.  He’s going to compromise our best strengths away and we’re going to get screwed.   But I really have no idea what else the GOP in the House should do.

We’re talking about Obama’s legacy here.  A working and lasting deal on the debt and taxes would be the starting point for anything good or bad that happens after it.  Obama missed this chance last time through incompetence and opportunism.  He insisted on holding off on any long-term solution until after re-election and allowed the uncertainty  of the fiscal cliff and Taxmageddon  (as well as Obamacare, now not going away) to drag down the economy for another year and a half. 

This is why his first term must be considered to be a failure.  Obama roughly held unemployment in place–unless you want to get into the more complex argument about labor force participation–and that was the issue foremost on voter’s minds.  But Bill Clinton promised that nobody could have fixed the economy in four years and he wouldn’t lie to us, right?  So Obama gets his re-election and another shot at a grand bargain on the debt ceiling and taxes.

Frankly, I’d be more impressed if the federal government woud just pass a real budget in compliance with the law, but they are so fucked that this isn’t even on the table right now.   Whatever Big Fuckin’ Deal these damn fools come up with, it’s going to equally celebrated and meaningless.  They’re not doing what needs to happen, they’re postponing it.  They’re not really doing what they’re supposed to, but making it look like they are.  It’s theatre, but we had best know what the audience is expecting to see on stage: The Rich as the antagonist, who must lose at third act.

The GOP is going to lose plainly on taxes.  Incomes on those who make over $250,000 need to go up because we can’t keep defending these people for no clear reason.  Yeah, yeah, raising taxes now would throw us back into recession or worsen the one we’re already in, depending on your outlook.  The proposed tax increases won’t close the deficit either, I know.   But Obama must have that to show off.  It’s inescapable.  Don’t get me wrong, if we HAD to give Obama a trophy, I’d tell him to take Boehner’s testicles; but he doesn’t want them.  He wants to confiscate more wealth from the wealthy.

I say that the taxes on top earners have to go up because the American people don’t know dick about economics.  Let’s face it.  If they did, they would have shown a lot more curiosity about the lack of a federal budget for nearly four years now and possibly asked some questions about why the recovery was oh so weak.  Oh, yeah: They probably wouldn’t have re-elected Obama either.

My prediction is that the Democrats will get the tax increase on “the rich” while barely giving anything in return.  Don’t get mad about this though.  It’s a loser and the GOP will be better off with it resolved.  It will suck all the wind out of the “party of the rich” arguments if any other part of the deal falls through.

The GOP has the big gun in this argument.  They can always let all of the Bush tax cuts expire.   The demented extremist side of me who would like to collectively kick the electorate in the junk for last Tuesday LOVES the thought of doing this just for spite.  Shitty thing is that this would hurt my household too.  I’m a working schlub, married to a teacher, and we have two kids.   We are that middle class that everyone purports to care about so much and really doesn’t.  Hence, we hate everyone else.

Obama most assuredly does not want to be blamed for raising taxes on the middle class (except for Obamacare, because “kids with cancer” or something).   If the Democrats don’t agree to some spending cuts beyond reducing the military to menacing our enemies with rubberband-fired paper clips, then the GOP must announce that no agreement that realistically reduces the deficit could be reached and they have no choice but to allow the tax cuts to sunset.

The Democrats do not want this and will work hard to prevent it.  The problem is that even though we have the advantage in the form of the great tax increase gambit, we have the biggest disadvantage on the game board: Boehner himself.  This isn’t about him, it’s about Obama.  Both of them want to secure their own legacies and I think Boehner is the less committed of the two.   Worse, he still thinks that something can be worked out man-to-man with this president.  His greatest weapon is that which Obama most fears: tax increases on everybody.  Not beating Obama at golf.

If Boehner does not use the big gun, then he establishes Obama as a good-enough president for resolving the debt stalemate, passes an idiotic compromise that accomplishes nothing for the good of his country, and proves once again how ultimately meaningless it is to give the GOP control of any part of the federal government. 

Obama’s legacy is on the line but all eyes should be on Boehner now.

I knew this was all politics and not about solutions…

In a move that pissed me off, the congressional republicans buckled and offered the democrats $300 million in new taxes, only to have the democrats rebuff the offer, now making it all but obvious that their intent from the beginning was to have the special debt-reduction committee, which has two weeks left, fail for political reasons.

Congressional Republicans have for the first time retreated from their hard-line stance against new taxes, offering to raise federal tax collections by nearly $300 billion over the next decade as part of a plan to tame the national debt.

But Democrats rejected the offer Tuesday — along with the notion that Republicans had made a significant concession that could end the long-standing political impasse — leaving a special debt-reduction committee far from compromise with less than two weeks until its Thanksgiving deadline.

Democrats said the tax increases in the GOP offer would be dwarfed by major new tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest households, including a reduction in the top income tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent.

“They’re anxious to promote a certain concept with all of you,” Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), one of the negotiators, told reporters. “I’ll be very clear that whatever they put there doesn’t get the job done.”

Oh, sure the democrats, whom have made it very clear that they want to get a minimum of one to one ratio on new taxes, or as the propaganda machine calls it, new revenue, are demanding a dollar in new taxes for each dollar in cuts – that way big government stays big, and they can keep buying votes – and blame the fact republicans will not acquiesce for their thumbs down. But lets be honest here and point out that any kind of deal would be turned down by the democrats, because if they make one Obama loses his most potent weapons – the “Do Nothing Congress” accusations that pretend republicans also control the Senate and not Harry Reid, whom has blocked everything the House has send him – and that’s not gonna happen. The republicans seem to know this.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fired back that Republicans are “working diligently to get a solution” and accused Democrats of trying to block a deal. McConnell said he suspected that “the folks down at the White House are pulling for failure because, you see, if the joint committee succeeds, it steps on the story line that they’ve been peddling, which is that you can’t do anything with the Republicans in Congress.”

Right on Mitch. And the democrats continue to ask for what they know the republicans can and should never give them.

Members of the supercommittee had planned to continue talking Tuesday afternoon, but a bipartisan meeting was abruptly canceled, and neither side appeared optimistic about the prospects for a breakthrough. “I have yet to see a real, credible plan that raises revenue in a significant way to bring us to a fair, balanced proposal,” Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), the Democratic co-chairman of the panel, told reporters.

These request for insane tax hikes, in fact, as far as I am concerned for any tax hikes that isn’t one where the 47% that today doesn’t pay any taxes now have to pay them too, need to be DOA. And that’s because these “cuts” all come in a decade, long after Team Obama is gone, while the taxes happen yesterday. That’s basically a guarantee that the nanny-staters will keep spending like they are doing now, racking up the deficit to grow the collectivist dependant base they depend on for votes, then the cuts never happen. Fuck that. That’s why this:

Late Monday, some GOP supercommittee members finally crossed the anti-tax line that their leaders had drawn in the sand. In a meeting that dragged on nearly to midnight, Sens. Patrick J. Toomey (Pa.) and Rob Portman (Ohio) and Reps. Dave Camp and Fred Upton, both of Michigan, presented a new proposal to Democrats Kerry, Sen. Max Baucus (Mont.) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.).

Pisses me off. If they give into them now, the commiecrats will just keep saying no until they either get the ridiculous 1 for 1 option they want, which to put things into perspective means they want $1 trillion in taxes now for the promise of a $1 trillion cut 10 years from now, or they will kill the thing, and give Obama his campaign bumper sticker. The fact that the do nothing congress is courtesy of Harry Reid will never be mentioned by the LSM.

Ryan Part III

Here’s Paul Ryan’s third video, this time on our tax code:

Needless to say, I love the idea of overhauling the tax code. And given that everyone involved is giving vocal support to the idea, I’m not sure why it isn’t happening. Well, other than the huge carve-outs every politician wants to leave for his favored industry.

When I showed this to my wife, her reaction was, “Why isn’t he running for President?” I actually kind of prefer having Ryan in the House, where his intelligence isn’t a liability. But I’d like to expand on the larger point. I think the primary system has been a bit detrimental to our Republic. It has encouraged long campaigns full of populist appeals to the party base. The rivals spend as much time slagging each other as they do attacking the other party. The idea of the party getting together, hammering out a platform and choosing the best leader is dead.

Now maybe that’s a good thing; smoke-filled rooms aren’t ideal for picking the leader of the free world either. But think of the candidates who have bowed out or refused to run simply because they can’t deal with the horse race: Colin Powell, Mitch Daniels, Paul Ryan. When I lived in Georgia, many Democrats thought Sam Nunn would have run had it not been for the primary system.

The solution, I think, is to shift more power away from the position that has effectively become the Demagogue in Chief and back to Congress. To put more power into the hands of legislators like Paul Ryan and John Boehner. The best thing about Newt Gingrich and the 1994 revolution was that the managed to nationalize Congressional elections, to break the idea that Congressional elections are local (an idea that press recycles any time a Democrat loses a special election).

In any case, let’s hope we can get some pressure on Congress for a tax overhaul. We are desperately in need of it.

Democrats Punt … Again

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are now going on two years since the Senate passed a budget. And Harry Reid is just fine with that:

Passing a yearly budget for the federal government is a fundamental responsibility of Congress. Lawmakers do not have to spend their time naming post offices or passing health care reform. But they do have to pass a budget. In 2010, neither the House nor the Senate did so. It’s not that members just didn’t get around to it, which would have been scandalous enough. No, Reid and then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi feared that passing a budget would hurt their chances in the November midterm elections. So they did nothing and took a beating at the polls anyway.

Now Pelosi is out of the picture. But Reid is still at it. The Republican-controlled House has passed a budget, but Reid will not produce a Democratic spending proposal. And if Reid doesn’t want to pass a budget, then a budget won’t be passed; the majority leader controls what is and what is not considered in the Senate.

“There’s no need to have a Democratic budget, in my opinion,” Reid told the Los Angeles Times last week. “It would be foolish for us to do a budget at this stage.” Instead, Reid wants to wait to see if the deficit-reduction meetings led by Vice President Biden bear any fruit. Before that, Reid wanted to wait for the Gang of Six — now nearly defunct — to come up with something.

This is simply appalling. I’m guessing what happened here was that the Democrats produced a budget that reduced the deficit mostly through tax hikes and then chickened out on actually presenting it. Right now, they’re milking anti-Republican sentiment, culminating in last night’s win in NY-26. They’re running with their Mediscare tactics. And … that’s it. That’s all they are prepared to do.

There are plenty of people criticizing the Republican plans to privatize Medicare and cut spending without any tax hikes. But here’s the thing: at least the Republicans proposed a budget. At least they’re trying to get out deficit under control. Whatever you may think of their plan — and I have issues with it — at least it’s a plan. That’s a a massive improvement over the big democratic pile of fucking nothing.

Here’s a question for the floor: why do we even have a Congress anymore? They won’t vote a war up or down; they’ve punted much of their law-making ability to the bureaucracies; they won’t pass a budget; they want to repass the Patriot Act with zero changes. As far as I can tell, their primary duties are appearing on TV and collecting campaign contributions.

What are we paying them for? Why do we even have these clowns around? They have made themselves irrelevant and immaterial.