Local Blogs

Raucous Caucus

By Tom Cushing

E-mail Tom Cushing

About this blog: The Raucous Caucus shares the southpaw perspectives of this Boomer on the state of the nation, the world, and, sometimes, other stuff. I enjoy crafting it to keep current, and occasionally to rant on some issue I care about deeply...  (More)

View all posts from Tom Cushing

"Mr. Boehnachev: Tear Down This Stall!"

Uploaded: Oct 3, 2013
I've couched my plea in Reaganesque terms, in the hope of promoting bi-partisan appeal. The power to end this tiresome, needless and risky delay tactic resides completely with the Speaker of the House.

Examining the situation makes that conclusion clear and unambiguous.

First, the so-called Continuing Resolution on the budget is a basic element of the legislative function of government, and properly a matter of routine. Congress appropriates money for all the far-flung functions of the federal government. We can argue the wisdom of deficits vs. surpluses, military vs. civilian allocations and a hundred other priorities and either/ors, but at the end of the day, it's a simple underwriting action that simply has to be taken, every year.

Some dissemblers might argue with only a slight smirk that including a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act is just such a financial decision. In context, however, it is an obvious ideological crusade to undermine final implementation of a law passed three years ago, that the GOP-controlled House has already voted to repeal 40-odd times. It is included in the CR only to try to exert maximum minority leverage of the rest of the government, and on the recipients of government services (in other words, everybody).

Second, the only reason that ACA term is included in the Resolution is because the radical Tea Party caucus within the GOP House wing has just enough members (49 or so, out of 435 reps, about 11%) that they are necessary to maintain the Republican majority (234R vs. 201D). They are a visible and disciplined little band, and have made this issue their own private Alamo – somehow convincing the Speaker to take up their cause. Put another way, the tail is directing the elephant.

Third, and most crucially, there are votes aplenty in the House at-large to pass the uncomplicated CR sent over from the Senate, with numerous more-moderate Republicans crossing the aisle to vote it in. Those numbers are growing by the hour. But the GOP has an internal preference (the so-called Hastert Rule, named for a prior Speaker) to only allow general votes on bills that enjoy majority support among Republicans themselves. In other words, if the House today was allowed by the Speaker to vote on the CR – IT WOULD PASS. Only by keeping it bottled-up can this sham 'crisis' continue, and the power over the process resides squarely with the GOP leadership.

In summary, the Party that accuses government of being unproductive has, by its own internal rules, forced that government to take utterly unproductive steps to shut itself down (and then soon, to start back up again). It has also preoccupied itself and the national attention with this suicide mission, when it has not acted on other priorities that ARE clearly important to the rational, national interest – like immigration reform. It looks down on the height of folly from a loftier perch.

At this writing, word has come out that Mr. Boehner is signaling that he will not participate in a similar charade regarding the debt ceiling later this month. That's a good thing, because if the shut-down is a despicable waste of resources (and it is), a default would be a hundred-times worse. As predicted hereabouts in an earlier RC, it may come-out that he has been convinced to refuse that mission by his Party's financial handlers, to protect their fabulous economic interests. If he survives with his position intact, he's lucky – most suicide bombers don't get a second chance.

Perhaps that move was made in the hope that it would make this crusade look better, but it really only makes it look emptier, and worse. If you're going to shut-down government over an issue, it had better be so damned important that you'd also go over the fiscal cliff for it. Otherwise, it's revealed to be only a foolish, poorly thought-out exercise in blackmail politics.

This Congressional cold war has to end. Mr. Boehner – tear down this stall!

Synopsis: the GOP has created a budget crisis out of its own internal processes. The Speaker of the House has failed to prevent his Party from acting on its worst, least well-thought-out instincts. It's in his power to fix it, and he really ought to do so.

Comments

Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 4, 2013 at 7:05 am

'Indiana GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman ... told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday: "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."'

Brilliant. "Worst, least well thought-out instincts" dignifies this gentleman's thinking process. Thank you for your service, sir.


Posted by Citizen Paine, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 4, 2013 at 7:05 am

'Indiana GOP Rep. Marlin Stutzman ... told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday: "We're not going to be disrespected. We have to get something out of this. And I don't know what that even is."'

Brilliant. "Worst, least well thought-out instincts" dignifies this gentleman's thinking process. Thank you for your service, sir.


Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 4, 2013 at 9:03 am

Think a major problem today is lack of respect between the parties. President Reagan and Tip O'Neil may have disagreed on many issues, but at the end of the day they respected each other, which led to compromises that put our country first over partisian politics. Today, both parties are guilty of smear tactics and disrespectful words and actions, which makes it so much harder for anyone to compromise and try to find a middle ground. Personally, I think Harry Reid is one of the worst offenders, and his lack of respect to anyone who disagrees with his views is so evident it creates conflict, and he is a horrible role model for the younger senators and congressmen.

I was blessed to see President Reagan speak in person my senior year in undergraduate studies, and he was amazingly charismatic, and actually seemed to be able to connect with everyone in the audience, regardless of their political party affiliations. I have read several accounts that long time Secret Service members have noted that President Reagan was the most genuine nice and respectful President they ever protected.

I think if President Obama took a page out of President Reagan's book on respect, and actually made an effort to listen to the Tea Party members and treat them with some respect, they might be more inclined to compromise. I certainly do not blame President Obama alone for this gridlock, I think both parties are to blame, but if he wants to be a true leader like President Reagan, he really needs to work on treating everyone with respect.

It is too early to start chanting "Lets go Oakland!"? Have tickets to Saturday nights game, and our beloved A's are just the diversion our country needs to get our minds off the nightmare shutdown in Washington.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:25 am

Why, oh why, is it that the House Republicans only want to talk after they've made an outrageous demand? Where, oh where, was this spirit of cooperation when the House deep-sixed a carefully crafted, BI-PARTISAN bill on immigration reform that was backed by Marco Rubio AND Nancy Pelosi?

Demonstrated fact is (meaning their actions, not their words) that they want to run the place as the minority party. That's not how this works, and there are limits to how outrageous you can be and still command respect. This is a tantrum and the TP-ers are reveling in the attention it has gotten them. As Mr. Stutzman says -- they do.not.even.know what they want.

I do not think you can lay this at the White House door. I believe he's tried (and tried) to work with an Opposition whose Numbers 1-10 goals involved his demise, and got slapped repeatedly for it. He's a good Christian, but how many times do you have to turn the other bruised cheek?

That said, I like your timing on this thing: LET'S GO, OAKLAND!


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:08 am

Obama has never lead on budget issues. He ignored the recommendations of his own bi-partisan commission (Simpson-Bowles). He has never engaged the opposition in any meaningful way.

During his five years as president, Obama's budgets have been so ridiculous, they've never received a single vote in the House or Senate, not even from Democrats.

Obama is steering America towards default. Obama could avoid default by signing the Full Faith and Credit Act, which was passed by the House but was stalled by Senate Democrats. This bill would prevent the federal government from defaulting by mandating that the Treasury pay the nation's debts even after the debt ceiling is reached.

Lyndon Johnson twisted arms to get his budgets passed. Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton all worked with opposing parties to raise taxes and cut spending.

Obama just runs around the country lobbing insults.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:23 pm

1 -- If "Put a clean CR up for a vote and we'll actually see if it passes" is your idea of an insult, don't watch any baseball, okay, S-P? I heard far worse on the infield yesterday -- I fear you'd be shocked.

2 -- what makes you think that you know everything that the Administration is doing? I would assume the opposite, given the sorry state of contemporary reportage. Once again, you sell the President short -- I don't know why.

3 -- The What Act is that? By all means, call Wall Street, Mr. Reid, the Prez, the Nobel Committee -- everybody. Eureka!


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm

You know, there's always that scene in the movie where the villain who has taken a hostage sneers into the phone: "If you don't do as I say, Shirley here will get a bullet in her head. And it will be your responsibility. Her blood will be on your hands!"

The Tea-types today are the only people I know who would nod their heads and say "Yeah - it will be the cop's fault if that girl gets shot - not the criminal's."


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 8, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Tea Party types aren't the only ones who would play games with the debt ceiling. Remember when Obama did the same thing in 2006, back when he was a Senator?

He was against the Iraq war, so he voted against increasing the debt limit. Web Link

But your point is well taken. We need politicians who will not play games with the nation's credit rating.


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Actually, spcwt, let's chalk that up to another entry into the encyclopedia of false equivalencies. In 2006 we shouldn't have had to raise the debt ceiling. In 2006 (and most years since 1981) we should have been paying ***down*** the debt. The only valid reasons for increasing debt are a major war or a major economic recession. The debt ceiling was raised for 35 years - starting with Reagan - primarily to backfill lost revenues from irresponsible tax cuts. I don't blame Reagan for running a (temporary) deficit when he first took office, because the economy was legitimately weak and needed help. But he was grossly irresponsible to continue to push for tax cuts (and paper over the revenue shortfalls) after that recession had ended. I also don't blame GWBush for running a (huge) deficit in his last year of office - there was a reason for doing so then to help the nation avoid falling deeper into the worst recession since the 1930's. But I do blame him for running a deficit before that.

That is what cracks me up about the new found fiscal responsibility of the right wing. The majority of our national debt was run up during Republican administrations (Reagan, Bush and Bush) during times of relative economic prosperity, in order to paper over irresponsible tax policies. The right didn't make a peep. But when deficits were warranted to stave off economic collapse - all of the sudden the sky is falling.

Casting a symbolic (and rationally valid) vote against raising the debt ceiling to finance a war our government refused to fund through taxation in a healthy economy in 2006 has no symmetry with the Tea Partiers wasting billions and threatening to throw the nation (and world) into economic chaos in 2013 to gratify their ideological hobby-horse.

The problem is evident in your assertion of equal significance to the two events. That's not rational; they're not equal. The implicit assertion that they are demonstrates either ignorance of context or lack of maturity, neither of which appears to be in short supply on the right these days.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 9, 2013 at 2:09 pm

So, my view is "not rational" and is due to "ignorance" and a "lack of maturity."

Oh yeah? Well you're a doo doo head!! So, neener neener!

Aren't ad homonym attacks fun? And mature.

What about you Tom? Do you think it is ok to vote against increasing the debt ceiling merely for "symbolic" reasons, like Obama did?


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm

What do I think? I think S-P's argument is a diversionary smokescreen. I also think the timid GOP moderates are hoping the Prez bails them out by "leading" on this issue. I'll let Tom Friedman take it from there:

"President Obama IS leading. He is protecting the very rules that are the foundation of any healthy democracy. He is leading by not giving in to this blackmail, because if he did he would undermine the principle of majority rule that is the bedrock of our democracy. That system guarantees the minority the right to be heard and to run for office and become the majority, but it also ensures that once voters have spoken, and their representatives have voted — and, if legally challenged, the Supreme Court has also ruled in their favor — the majority decision holds sway.

A minority of a minority, which has lost every democratic means to secure its agenda, has no right to now threaten to tank our economy if its demands are not met. If we do not preserve this system, nothing will ever be settled again in American politics. There would be nothing to prevent a future Democratic Congress from using the exact same blackmail to try to overturn a law enacted by their Republican rivals.

The president has said that he would give the G.O.P. an agenda for negotiations that could start when the government is funded and the debt ceiling lifted. He's ready to consider trading the medical-device tax in Obamacare for another equivalent source of revenue or having a talk about closing tax loopholes and reforming entitlements — to both lower the deficit and raise revenue to invest in infrastructure or early childhood education. What Obama will not do, and must not do, is pay an entry fee to that negotiation — say giving up the medical-device tax — just to help Boehner down from the tree. Cruz & Co. would claim victory.

The reason so many mainstream Republican lawmakers want Obama to give something to Cruz & Co. is that they want to get out of this mess, but they're all afraid to stand up to the far-right fringe themselves — with its bullying network of barking talk-show hosts and moneymen. But Obama shouldn't take them off the hook.

Only Republicans can delegitimize the nihilistic madness at the base of their party. (I wouldn't exaggerate this, but I think Boehner underestimates how many mainstream Republicans feel their party is being stolen from them by radicals — and hunger for a leader who will take them on.)" Web Link

Me again. All GOP attempted smokescreens aside (as above), this prefabricated 'crisis' is entirely the GOP's doing. It is the functional equivalent taking your family hostage, and then demanding a "conversation" about the price you want for your house.

It simply cannot be legitimized. And if Republican "moderates" do not grow-a-pair and stand-up to the unguided Cruz missile, they will cede control of the remnants of their Party to its radical wing. They need to take back their Party, before those radicals destroy what's left of its electability -- otherwise, it'll be all Mourdock, O'Donnell and Akin, all the time. Good luck with that.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Ha ha!! I KNEW you wouldn't say anything bad about Obama.

But seriously, just between us, be honest, I won't tell anybody: Do you agree that Obama's vote against increasing the debt ceiling in 2006 wasn't wise?

I mean, obviously, if Obama did it, I know you have to say it was wise. So maybe "wise" isn't the word I'm looking for.

Was it advisable? Or prudent? Yeah, "prudent." Can you at least say it wasn't "prudent"?

Certainly Obama's vote shouldn't be viewed as him acting like a terrorist, or an arsonist, or a deadbeat, right?


Posted by Huh?, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 9, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Actually, spcwt, I wrote "ignorance ***of context***" By which I meant that you could only consider the two situations equivalent if you were ignorant of the differing economic and political contexts of 2006 and 2013. If you are not ignorant of the different contexts and actually understood them but wanted to make a point based on a fundamentally false implied assertion that the contexts were similar, I consider that to be an immature form of argument.

But you knew that. That's why you edited "of context" out of what I wrote, and then wrapped yourself in the mantle of victimhood. That's exactly the kind of "argument" the right wing seems to specialize in these days.

"Neener neener" yourself.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Oct 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm

S-P: an old lawyer once told me: "if the facts are on your side, but not the law -- argue the facts. And if the law is on your side, but not the facts, emphasize the law. Again if they're Both against you -- try to confuse the hell out of the jury by diverting their attention."

Your line of argument here is the last, above. It's basically: "Look, a butterfly!" Sorry, pal, I'm not biting. Butterflies may be free, like your investment portfolio if the Know Nothings -- who've now decreed that "default doesn't matter" -- actually precipitate one. I'll have you to blame for not standing-up to your internal bullies -- you'll have no one.

Trying to discredit me as an Obama shill is a diversionary tactic and a crock, and you very well know it -- anyone who wants to read back can find ample evidence in these 102 columns. Nice try.


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 9, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Blast your legal sophistry! I will discredit you yet! MARK MY WORDS!!!!


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

DSRSD's Kohnen Scholarship on Hold
By Roz Rogoff | 0 comments | 758 views

Fifty Ways to Craze Your Donors
By Tom Cushing | 0 comments | 645 views

Be a sport: Send us your youth sports news, scores and photos
By Gina Channell-Allen | 0 comments | 399 views

When Adult Children Go Off to College: Keeping Your Eye on The Law
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 254 views