The Sunday Yack Shows yesterday were full of discussions of Government Shutdown if the GOP doesn’t get what it wants to raise the debt ceiling. From here, it looks like they want the Democrats to propose a bunch of budget cuts that the GOP can run against in 2014. Have I got that wrong? As you think about the stupidity of this demand, you might want to read this piece from The Atlantic, which asks, Are People Being Unfair to the House Republicans? Steve LaTourette is interviewed and asked to defend the 112th GOP caucus.
: Q:The deal [Fiscal Cliff -Ed.] did pass the House in the end, though the majority of Republicans, including Majority Leader Eric Cantor, didn’t support it. But then Boehner decided not to hold a vote on the bill to fund relief money for victims of Hurricane Sandy. What happened there?
LaTourette: The Sandy thing could have been handled better. But Boehner had expended so much political capital on the tax bill, and now these same 20 to 60 people were grousing that [the aid money] was unpaid for. You look at the roll call on the tax bill — Boehner votes yes, and every other [member of the GOP leadership] except Cathy McMorris Rodgers voted no.
During the roll call on the tax bill, I walked into the cloakroom, and Boehner was sitting there. I said, ‘This Sandy thing is really important. We’ve got to do something.’ He said, ‘Not tonight.’ I asked if we were going to do it tomorrow, and he said no. He said, ‘After this mess, I just can’t do it tonight.’
Q: I don’t understand. Was he just exhausted? Was he afraid the votes wouldn’t be there?
LaTourette: He had expended a lot of political capital to get the 85 votes [on the fiscal-cliff deal], and he felt a little betrayed that the other members of the elected leadership walked on him. And the last piece was, as you saw during the Speaker election [Thursday], this sort of insurrection was forming against him. There was a fear that if he put $60 billion, no matter how worthy, of unpaid-for emergency spending on the floor, the insurrection would become bigger than it was.
Q: How about that insurrection — doesn’t that prove that Boehner is a weak leader who can’t control his caucus?
LaTourette: I think it’s ridiculous. They should kick them all out of the Republican conference. The picture in Politico of a sitting Republican member of Congress on the floor with an iPad showing a screen with a whip count to deny the Republicans the speakership of the House is asinine. This is what I’m talking about: These guys are OK when it comes to ideology and dogma, but they don’t have a clue how to participate in the legislative process.
I don’t know what their objective is. If it was to deny the speakership to Boehner and hand it to Mrs. Pelosi, I don’t know how their cause would have been furthered. If it’s to force the vote to a second ballot to make some demands, well, who the hell do these people think they are? Twelve out of 233, and they’re making demands? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
Translation — even the GOP has issues keeping their caucus on the straight and narrow.
Speaking of caucuses that don’t always go where you want them to — NPR did a story on Saturday discussing President Obama’s On-Again, Off-Again relationship with progressives. A key takeaway to internalize right now:
MOLLY BALL: It’s truer now than it ever was that the math just hasn’t really changed in Washington. The Congress is still constructed the way the Congress was constructed then. Democrats made incremental gains in the Senate and in the House, but they didn’t change the basic math. And that means that these policy fights ahead are going to run up against exactly what they’ve run up against the last four years. Even if Obama is feeling newly liberated by his re-election, he’s going to have to turn a lot of votes to make any of this possible.
Looks like John Brennan (who had to recuse himself in 2008 because of the “enhanced interrogation” business he was involved with) looks to be nominated as CIA Director. And Chuck Hagel also looks like he will be nominated as Secretary of Defense. Hagel is being targeted by the GOP who seem to find Hagel insufficiently occupied with the security of Israel. I’m not crazy about the Hagel choice (we really do have good Dem choices now), but delighted that he is agitating Congressional Republicans and maybe even AIPAC. Perhaps someone will remind the world that the DOD’s first, second and third order of business is the defense of this nation, not Israel.
So what interests you today?