Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, October 11, 2013 7:57 pm

Read this and tell me again how the shutdown is the Democrats’ fault

The House GOP’s Little Rule Change:

Late on the night of Sept. 30, with the federal government just hours away from shutting down, House Republicans quietly made a small change to the House rules that blocked a potential avenue for ending the shutdown.

It went largely unnoticed at the time. But with the shutdown more than a week old and House Democrats searching for any legislative wiggle room to end it, the move looms large in retrospect in the minds of the minority party.

“What people don’t know is that they rigged the rules of the House to keep the government shut down,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, told TPM in an interview. “This is a blatant effort to make sure that the Senate bill did not come up for a vote.” …

Here’s the rule in question:

When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.

In other words, if the House and Senate are gridlocked as they were on the eve of the shutdown, any motion from any member to end that gridlock should be allowed to proceed. Like, for example, a motion to vote on the Senate bill. That’s how House Democrats read it.

But the House Rules Committee voted the night of Sept. 30 to change that rule for this specific bill. They added language dictating that any motion “may be offered only by the majority Leader or his designee.”

So unless House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wanted the Senate spending bill to come to the floor, it wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t.

“I’ve never seen this rule used. I’m not even sure they were certain we would have found it,” a House Democratic aide told TPM. “This was an overabundance of caution on their part. ‘We’ve got to find every single crack in the dam that water can get through and plug it.'”

Congressional historians agreed that it was highly unusual for the House to reserve such power solely for the leadership.

“I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told TPM.

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Monday, September 30, 2013 7:33 pm

Shutdown primer

James Fallows at The Atlantic explains the only parts that really matter:

  • As a matter of substance, constant-shutdown, permanent-emergency governance is so destructive that no other serious country engages in or could tolerate it. The United States can afford it only because we are — still — so rich, with so much margin for waste and error. Details on this and other items below.*
  • As a matter of politics, this is different from anything we learned about in classrooms or expected until the past few years. We’re used to thinking that the most important disagreements are between the major parties, not within one party; and that disagreements over policies, goals, tactics can be addressed by negotiation or compromise.This time, the fight that matters is within the Republican party, and that fight is over whether compromise itself is legitimate.** Outsiders to this struggle — the president and his administration, Democratic legislators as a group, voters or “opinion leaders” outside the generally safe districts that elected the new House majority — have essentially no leverage over the outcome. I can’t recall any situation like this in my own experience, and the only even-approximate historic parallel (with obvious differences) is the inability of Northern/free-state opinion to affect the debate within the slave-state South from the 1840s onward. Nor is there a conceivable “compromise” the Democrats could offer that would placate the other side.
  • As a matter of journalism, any story that presents the disagreements as a “standoff,” a “showdown,” a “failure of leadership,” a sign of “partisan gridlock,” or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement,represents a failure of journalism*** and an inability to see or describe what is going on. …This isn’t “gridlock.” It is a ferocious struggle within one party, between its traditionalists and its radical factions, with results that unfortunately can harm all the rest of us — and, should there be a debt default, could harm the rest of the world too. …

* The FAA, the FDA, our research organizations, all other public programs from monitoring air quality to modernizing computer systems to staffing the military — they’re all wasting time and money now because of indiscriminate “sequester” cuts and preparations for possible shut-down. For the foreseeable future, the air traffic will keep moving and other functions will go on — just more stupidly and wastefully. We have that much social capital still to burn. …

** The debt-ceiling vote, of course, is not about future spending decisions. It is about whether to cover expenditures the Congress has already authorized. There is no sane reason for subjecting this to a repeated vote. … [And] in case the point is not clear yet: there is no post-Civil War precedent for what the House GOP is doing now. …

*** For examples of coverage that plainly states what is going on, here is a small sampling: Greg SargentDerek ThompsonJohn Gilmour (on why Ronald Reagan believed in compromise), Jonathan RauchBrian BeutlerJonathan ChaitAndrew Sullivan (also here), Ezra Klein and Evan SoltasDan Froomkin.

The failure of mainstream media to report accurately on this subject is perhaps its biggest fail since its coverage of the runup to the Iraq invasion in 2003. And although the number of lives immediately at risk is far lower, the worldwide economic damage that could result is far higher.

As for what actually will happen, I don’t have any insider knowledge. But I do know that the Tea Party wing of the House GOP (egged on by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas) is full-throttle, turn-it-up-to-11 crazy. The reason the GOP is split is because they think House Speaker John Boehner and his allies aren’t being conservative enough. They have learned nothing from their recent failures, and they think the biggest problem with the government shutdown that resulted from disputes between Democratic President Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich’s Republicans in Congress was that the Republicans, who finally caved after about three weeks, gave in too soon. So I’m projecting a 95% chance of a government shutdown, an 80% chance that the shutdown will last more than two weeks, and at least a 40% chance that they will force the U.S., for the first time in history, to default on its debt.

They just want to blow government up. They don’t care about collateral damage — the millions, here and abroad, who would be harmed if the full faith and credit of the United States were to be called into question. But the only way for that NOT to happen is for the Crazy Caucus to suddenly start acting less crazy. And there’s nothing in the caucus’s history to suggest the slightest likelihood that that will happen.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010 8:45 pm

I just bet

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:45 pm
Tags:

Gee. Why might House Minority Leader John Boehner not want to talk with Fox News’s Chris Wallace about Republican solutions to the country’s problems?

WALLACE: Congressman Boehner, as Willie Sutton said about banks, entitlements are where the money is. More than 40% of the budget. Yet, I’ve looked through this pledge [the GOP “Pledge to America”] and there is not one single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

BOEHNER: Chris, we make it clear in there that we’re going to lay out a plan to work toward a balanced budget and deal with the entitlement crisis. Chris, it’s time for us as americans to have an adult conversation with each other about the serious challenges our country faces. And we can’t have that serious conversation until we lay out the size of the problem. Once Americans understand how big the problem is, then we can begin to talk about potential solutions. […]

WALLACE: Forgive me, sir, isn’t the right time to have the adult conversation now before the election when you have this document? Why not make a single proposal to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

BOEHNER: Chris, this is what happens here in Washington. When you start down that path, you just invite all kind of problems. I know. I’ve been there.

Shorter Boehner: If we tell voters what we really intend to do, they won’t vote for us.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 8:56 pm

Political messaging analysis, no extra charge

Filed under: Weird — Lex @ 8:56 pm
Tags: ,

In an era in which a major-party nominee for a U.S. Senate seat is taking heat for her public opposition to masturbation (as opposed to her opposition to public masturbation, which, frankly, even I am not wild about), naming a website BeatBoehner.com is either major dhummitude or true genius.

Sunday, March 21, 2010 2:25 pm

Punk’d

A few days ago, Sen. Chris Dodd, the Connecticut Democrat who chairs the Senate Banking Committee, introduced a proposal to better regulate the financial industry. That’s a joke, inasmuch as the financial industry responded, by and large, with gushing approval, which ought to make ordinary taxpayers extremely suspicious.

However, House Minority Leader John Boehner sees even this little fillip — which seems designed far more to  land the retiring Dodd a comfortable post-Senate sinecure in the industry he is purporting to regulate than it does to protect taxpayers — as an assault on the basic freedoms of bankers:

Boehner said he urged bankers not to be shy when meeting with the lawmaker staff members and to send a message that new regulations and taxes translates to into banks having less available for lending.

“Don’t let those little punk staffers take advantage of you and stand up for yourselves,” Boehner said. “All of us are hearing from our friends and constituents on lack of credit, you can’t get a loan, the more your government takes and taxes, the more regulations you have to comply with the more cost you have there and less amount you are going to have available to loan to customers.”

Cuz those poor, defenseless bankers have been helpless before the onslaught of rapacious congressional staffers. Nice to know, too, how much respect Boehner has for congressional staffers, some of whom work for him.

The bigger issue, of course, is: Will either the House or the Senate bill prevent another Too Big to Fail meltdown/bailout? And the answer is no. That’s the real outrage.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 11:26 pm

But … but … David Broder says we need more bipartisanshipness!

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 11:26 pm
Tags:

Sorry. I’m back now. I just had to do a facepalm. A 20-minute facepalm.

Why?

Um, gee.

OK. So House Minority Leader John Beohner challenges the White House to put the health-care reform bill online. So the White House does. So does Boehner say “thank you”? Does he even, you know, keep his mouth shut to prevent himself from being thought a fool?

Why, no, he criticizes the White House for doing exactly what he asked it to do.

There’s a page on Facebook that members can become a fan of that has a picture of a horse’s south end on it called something like, “Can this horse’s ass get more fans than John Boehner? Y-ASS, WE CAN.”

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