Monday Open Thread [1.7.13]

Filed in Open Thread by on January 7, 2013

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.

Quite right.

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?

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  1. Jason330 says:

    Okay Cassandra, I love you but this is where we get into trouble. The math may not have changed in Washington, but the math isn’t the issue. Did you happen to notice that the President gets more popular and powerful when he takes on “the math” particularly the two dozen intractable nutbags in the house GOP?

    If you haven’t noticed it, the President certainly did in the closing days of the election. After the botched Denver debate, the President regained his footing by simply telling the truth about the GOP and that’s what he needs to keep doing.

    If he listens to the kind of DC conventional wisdom embodied in that Molly Ball quote – he is screwed.

  2. cassandra_m says:

    So we are going to get into trouble by remembering that there is a Congress who gets to vote on the President’s agenda? Really? It is going to get plenty lonely in the reality-based community. Especially when we’re going to ignore our own Senator who looks like he is going to be quite off of the reservation. It doesn’t happen unless there are enough votes and the overall math simply didn’t change.

    OR ALTERNATELY — I’ll ask you to pick an issue, any issue and create your own Whip List and prove me wrong.

  3. Jason330 says:

    It is the President’s reaction to the math that matters. Oh well. I guess we’ll always have Paris.

  4. puck says:

    In Cassandra’s Washington, Democrats may only introduce bills for which the votes are already lined up. The President’s ability to influence the outcome is to be discounted.

  5. Jason330 says:

    The President has no ability to influence the outcome. It is all math.

  6. cassandra_m says:

    It is the President’s reaction to the math that matters.

    So all he needs is some optics, but doesn’t have to care about any votes? Sheesh.

    And I’m going to ask for this again:
    OR ALTERNATELY — I’ll ask you to pick an issue, any issue and create your own Whip List and prove me wrong.

    Seriously. You can prove me wrong with a Whip List. Otherwise this is just more of the Magic Negro bullshit that I’m stunned you are doubling down on.

  7. cassandra_m says:

    And this is the sound of someone that we already know isn’t paying attention:

    Democrats may only introduce bills for which the votes are already lined up

    Democrats or Republicans, bills come up for a vote where there is a reasonable chance of passage OR there is a reasonable chance where the other party can be beat about the head and shoulders with the results of that vote. Lots of bills might get filed, but the ones that come to a vote typically already have a pre-determined outcome.

  8. Jason330 says:

    I think we can all agree that GWB was successful enacting his unpopular agenda by pursuing this philosophy of government:

    “…when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…”

    Of course, he took that attitude to an extreme – but President Obama is taking that philosophy to a very unhelpful opposite extreme.

  9. puck says:

    I’m confused whether Obama’s legislative deals are the best he can do under the circumstances, or what he wanted all along.

  10. cassandra_m says:

    And so did that reality that BushCo created bypass Congress?

    I think we can all agree that GWB was successful in enacting his unpopular agenda by pursing a philosophy of government that got the vast majority of available GOP votes in remarkable lockstep and some Democratic ones too. We can also agree that GWB had a Congress that largely shared his agenda for his unpopular agenda.

    Which is why so very many of them have been trying to run away from it.

  11. Jason330 says:

    Yes, GWB got GOP and Democratic votes. That’s how it is supposed to work. That’s the point. If they want to vote in a block, so be it. They’ll answer to the voters in due course. If it isn’t the President’s job to influence congress (and public opinion) to enact his agenda – then he has no job.

  12. cassandra_m says:

    GWB got GOP votes that were lined up for him without effort because that is how they roll. All he had to do on a few occasions was to peel off a few D votes to get to where he wanted. And given the D caucus *that* was stupidly easy. Counting of the votes is much harder for Obama — he can’t count on a clear voice from his own party. So there will be work to wrangle his own side (work that GWB did not have to do) AND work to wrangle GOP votes. And much like their voting pattern with GWB was President, the GOP is pretty much in lockstep in making sure he doesn’t get those votes.

    Enacting his agenda isn’t a matter of copping an attitude — it is still about counting votes. A far more difficult job for him than for GWB.

  13. Jason330 says:

    I agree with all of that. The President is largely responsible for the D votes being shaky though.

  14. cassandra_m says:

    Really? I need a detailed explanation as to why it is Obama’s fault that:

    Ben Nelson
    Joe Lieberman
    Joe Manchin
    Tom Carper

    are so frequently off of the reservation.

    Detailed. And if all you got is Obama doesn’t have the right attitude, I’ll just tell you now that is all kinds of Fail.

  15. cassandra_m says:

    How about an easy one — Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is a new one so the explanation ought to be quick and easy. She’s already opposed to Obama’s gun control proposals even though they don’t even exist yet. She says they are “extreme”. So how is it that Obama is responsible for this? Exactly, please.

  16. socialistic ben says:

    with dems like that, who needs republicans?
    Why not threaten to cut off party funding for re-elections? how about the leader of the Democratic party stands up for democratic ideals and takes away the golden saftey net from these DINOs? sure, we’ll lose senate seats in Jesusland… who cares? I’ll trade a better delaware senator for a repubilcan Dakota senator.

  17. puck says:

    U.S. Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp has been appointed to the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Indian Affairs, two appointments she pledged to seek during her campaign. She will also serve on the Banking, Small Business and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committees.

    You know, come to think of it, Heitkamp doesn’t need to be on that many committees now does she. Maybe she really doesn’t have time for Agriculture.

  18. cassandra_m says:

    Harry Reid controls Senate committees. Democrats don’t work the way the GOP does, since you aren’t paying attention still.

    Which still doesn’t explain how Obama is responsible for Heitkamp being utterly off of the reservation here.

  19. V says:

    News Journal is reporting UD fired KC Keeler.

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