Archive for category John Boehner

Government Shutdown Watch

The post will replace my earlier one, Congress on Track for Another Government Shutdown.

The federal government made it past the end of the fiscal year with a continuing resolution (CR) that expires on December 11. Speaker John Boehner is stepping down, effective at the end of this month. President Obama has declared that that he will not sign another short-term CR.

As of today, the Tea-GOP House caucus is nominating a new Speaker, the inarticulate, gaffe-prone House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) [Apparently not – see updates]. Rep. McCarthy has already let the proverbial cat out of the bag by telling Faux News’ Sean Hannity that the purpose of the Benghazi Select Committee was to get Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers down.

Unless Boehner is able to push through legislation before retiring, the new Speaker will face a November 5th deadline to raise the debt limit, and then a December 11th budget deadline. At this point it does not look like the Tea-GOP has enough votes in the House to avoid missing those deadlines and precipitating a major governing crisis.

In short, it appears the only way to avoid a default on the National Debt and to prevent another federal government shutdown is with the support of House Democrats– who will surely demand an end to the sequester cuts and who knows what else.

Kevin McCarthy Pulls Out Of House Speaker’s Race

Reps Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) were also running for Speaker. On Wednesday, the House’s conservative “Freedom Caucus” endorsed Webster.

Ian Millhiser on Think Progress:

It is possible that there is no one in America who can win an absolute majority of House members votes, the amount that is necessary to become the next speaker.


Congress on Track for Another Government Shutdown

House Speaker John Boehner has refused to negotiate with Democrats on the federal budget, setting the conditions for another government shutdown at the end of September.

The House goes on vacation until after Labor Day at the end of the month. If no deal is in place, it will leave just three weeks to craft a budget compromise before funding for the government expires on Sept. 30.

Senate Democrats have promised to block passage of any budget bills that lock in sequestration cuts. Nothing has yet come to a vote in the Senate. President Obama has threatened to veto any such austerity budget bills.

Over in the House, the Tea-GOP has been unable to gather enough votes for the Interior-Environment appropriations bill (that includes crippling budget cuts to the EPA, would prohibit regulation of fracking or implementation of carbon emission standards for electric power plants, block new clean-water rules, and stop the government’s marine and coastal planning efforts to respond to climate change) because it contains an amendment allowing the confederate flag to be displayed in national parks. Speaker Boehner has placed a complete hold on appropriations bills until the impasse is resolved.


The War Power, The Sergeant, the Senator: Treason or Heroism

The Sergeant who some years ago left his post in that unnecessary and unwinnable war in
Afghanistan is either a hero, a traitor, or just a terribly young man in the wrong war at the wrong time. He spent terrible years of torture and probably said things he didn’t really mean.

Some years ago in Vietnam, Senator McCain was shot down over Vietnam, another unconstitutional war, and equally unwinnable war, confessed repeatedly to things he later recanted, once safely in the United States, and is, quite rightly regarded, despite his confessions to American war crimes, a hero. The two cases are not quite completely on all fours, as we say in the law. But the similarity is sufficient to compare with each other and with the undergirding of law.

Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama, who are visited by war, either their own or, like Obama, inherited from another (in Obama’s case two other) fools who preceded them, have always had this power. While not yet president, and without this act may well not have become president, Ronald Reagan communicated with Iran, telling them, in effect, just to refuse to deal with Carter on releasing our citizens from the U. S. Embassy in Iran, and await his presidency. Their deal (which killed Jimmie Carter’s hope for a second term and by the way was treason, meriting a firing squad.)

The 30, 60, 90 day notification of Congress is also unconstitutional, but not for the reasons the Republicans and Democrats alike, trumpet. Saint Paul, as I recall, said “this trumpet has an uncertain sound.” And I know he said that some leaders have “zeal without knowledge.” This is Republican and Democratic leaders on steroids, just like my former wife.

The reason the War Powers Act is unconstitutional is not what is now said by either Republicans or Democrats, as I told Joe Biden when he was both Minority Senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and when he was chair. I testified before his committee a few times, and he called me at the law school sometimes to chat about this. The reason is simple. Due to both a few but very senior Democrats and almost all Republicans, Congress forced the Demo’s to give the president 30, 60, or 90 days to play with Congress’ army while he picked his nose. War has not been officially declared since FDR did it in WW2. George Bush (the first) and Colin Powell, in my opinion, got it right, constitutionally, by voting 50-50 in the Senate, and then the Dark Lord, Vice President Cheney, broke the tie and we went to war in Iraq the right way by law; and they had the smarts to stop when their limited mission was accomplished. And until this time, the President, as Commander in Chief, has no constitutional power to use the United States armed forces, save self-defense.

In the Framers’ mind that means only when the United States of America, not our allies, are attacked. For Utahns, the reason J. Reuben Clark, my hero and a great patriot, a rock-ribbed Republican who served under many Republican presidents, served variously as chief legal adviser to the Department of State (then, as an deputy Attorney General on loan from Justice to State,,,,,,now called Legal Adviser to the State Department; and Vice Secretary of State, and Ambassador to Mexico; and advised many presidents between world wars one and two, on all arms control treaties between those to dreadful wars) opposed NATO was because it delegated the war power to a generation not yet born and for the defense of people, and nations, not yet born. Neither the United Nations (Korean War) nor NATO (Ukraine?) can declare war for the United States of America. This is the statement of law, the War Clause, that makes this beyond debate. Remember, that it is also the sole right of Congress: not the President of the United States, nor NATO, nor the United Nations, that decides what constitutes International law, as well. So, both Constitutional Law and International Law, save an attack on the United States, inform us that Congress, not the president or these international bodies, who determines for war or peace.

So screw the people and the Congress and president now living. When the president, any president, has this army to use, that army will never return to Congress’ care. This is unconstitutional because it is an illegal attempt to delegate to the President a plenary power, given exclusively, textually, to the Congress. Like the power over interstate commerce (the road by which most civil rights legislation is constitutional), along with the equal protection and due process of law clauses of the 5th and 14th amendments. It’s as if Congress were to say to Obama, “Say, friend, we’re so damned tired of life in Washington, despite the cherry blossoms, we will do what the Supreme Court does, and reconvene when good weather returns. We’re going to go to Balboa Island, California, where it’s nice and sunny, in ocean or on the beach, and pick our nose and scratch our butts. And better yet, we have one in eight chances not to pick both with the same finger. Even though we’ve proven, time out of mind, that we in Congress cannot chew gum and pick our nose, simultaneously (a great blessing). So, pres., you now have the taxing and the spending power, and we’ll sweeten the loaf by throwing into the pot, since you do have to stick around in this shitty weather, and give you the power also to fund and provide for the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Navy. And don’t sweat it about financing things by the provision in the Constitution that spending bills begin in the House. Since you already have the taxing and spending power, do all this in the White House. P.S. please instruct the Treasury Department to deliver our checks, our salaries, and all the REALLY big bucks from the armaments industry and all those other lobbyists. We really have earned this right by selling our souls to the devil. Have a good life.

I say that both Senator and Soldier are bona fide heroes. Ed Firmage xoxox


Speaker Boehner Threatens Another Government Shutdown and Possible Default Next Year

Government shutdown watch 2014

You just cannot make this stuff up. Today in his first press conference since the Republican Shutdown, Speaker of the House Republicans John Boehner immediately threatened another government shutdown on January 15, 2014, followed by a possible default on the National Debt.

“As I told my colleagues the other day, we fought the fight. We didn’t win. We live to fight another day.”

…“The fact is, we’re going to have issues about funding the government come Jan. 15. We’re going to have the debt ceiling we’re going to have to deal with again,” Boehner said.

Unbelievable. In the immortal words of Talleyrand: “Ils n’ont rien appris, ni rien oublié” — “They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”

UPDATE: GOP, Boehner take shutdown hit in new CNN poll


Redge Ranyard Versus John Boehner

Contribute to to help keep this ad on the air.

Remember that Speaker Boehner, like most of his GOP colleagues, never served in combat. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1968, but was administratively separated after eight weeks because of a bad back.

If the pointless Republican Shutdown of the federal government continues, disabled veterans benefits will be cut off at the end of this month. Boehner and the Tea-GOP would be well-advised to re-open the government before then.


Republican Shutdown Temper Tantrum

Ads like this will be the hallmark of the 2014 elections. Someone I saw on TV described the Republican Shutdown as the equivalent of a child who throws a temper tantrum in public – the only way to deal with them is to say, “Calm down, and maybe we can discuss what’s bothering you later.”

“Speaker Boehner didn’t get his way and so, like a child, he threw a Tea Party-inspired temper tantrum and shut down the federal government,” said Andy Stone, communications director of House Majority PAC. “The American people are sick and tired of the intransigence and manufactured crises that have become all too common from Speaker Boehner and the House Republicans. Speaker Boehner should stop playing politics, end the nonsense and finally focus on the real-life consequences his government shutdown has caused Americans.”

The group has launched a six-figure ad campaign in the districts of the nine Republican members it’s targeting in the 2014 elections: Gary Miller (Calif.), Mike Coffman (Colo.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Joe Heck (Nev.), Dave Joyce (Ohio), John Kline (Minn.) and Steve Southerland (Fla.).

UPDATE: Republican Party’s Rating Plummets To Record Low

GOP poll rating graph


‘These Men Are Nihilists– Nothing To Be Afraid Of’

“Well they finally did it. They killed my fucking car.” The current state of Washington politics reminded me of the nihilist scene in “The Big Lebowski” (1998).

We should not be afraid of the Tea-GOP nihilists. They are stupid. But they might do some damage anyway.


Vote Count: John Boehner Could Reopen The Government Immediately


Right now, President Obama is meeting with House Speaker John Boehner to discuss how to end the Republican Shutdown. Boehner can do it whenever he wants to. Until he does, parents with kids in Head Start, women and children who rely on WIC, kids with cancer, Grand Canyon river runners, NASA rocket scientists, disabled veterans, people who eat food inspected by the FDA, half the Defense Department’s civilian employees, and tens of millions of other Americans are going to hate him. Wonder what that feels like?

Via HuffPo:

WASHINGTON — In the hours since the government shut down, House Republicans have slowly but steadily been coming forward to say they’re ready to pass a bill to fund the government with no strings attached.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the number of those Republicans hit 19 — surpassing the magic 17 votes needed to pass a clean funding bill if all 200 Democrats stick together and team up with them. Of course, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) would have to be willing to put that bill on the floor in the first place. But if he did, the votes appear to be there for passage, at which point the bill would sail through the Senate and be signed by President Barack Obama, ending the shutdown.

The Dems have already caved on the austerity budgeting issue (aka The Sequester). They are not in the mood to grant any further concessions to the Tea-GOP.

UPDATE: Speaker Boehner just emerged from a 90 minute meeting at the White House. He’s not willing to end the Republican Shutdown yet.

UPDATE: House GOP Blocks Vote On Re-opening Government

UPDATE: Shutdown Impasse Deepens As Boehner Rebuffs Dem Proposal

UPDATE: Jon Walker on FDL:

Nothing is really happening because this entire crisis is just waiting for Speaker John Boehner to crack. This shutdown ends the second Boehner puts a clean continuing resolution on the floor. At that point it will be approved overwhelmingly in the House. Until that happens though nothing of meaning is taking place.

UPDATE: Fox News Got GOP Into Shutdown Mess, But It Can’t Get The GOP Out


‘Plan B’ Is DOA


Speaker John Boehner’s “Plan B” is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives. The House has adjourned until after Christmas without taking a vote on “Plan B.”

It was a tax increase on working Americans, coupled with a massive extension of the Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich on the first $1 million of income. Boehner couldn’t find the votes for it, but this didn’t matter because the Senate Majority Leader said the Senate would not consider it, and President Obama said he would veto it if somehow it got to his desk.

Because right-wing Tea-GOP House members oppose even a token income tax rate hike on multimillionaires, Boehner added a series of sweeteners from the right-wing wish list – like Christmas stockings hung by the fire (OK, not like that at all).

  • Cuts to food stamps that would hurt millions of low-income Americans
  • Cuts to Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to seniors
  • Cuts funding to health exchanges and Medicaid
  • Cuts to the Dodd-Frank financial reform law that will yield no cost savings

Nobody in Washington seems to know why Boehner was wasting everyone’s time with this proposal, when all the House has to do is vote on the Senate-passed bill that makes tax cuts for the rich on the first $250,000 of income permanent. President Obama has said he would sign it.

Does it matter to average Americans if they get a tax cut on their first $250,000 or their first $1 million? I don’t even know anybody who makes $250,000 a year.

UPDATE: How Boehner’s ‘Plan B’ Debacle Has Transformed The Fiscal Cliff Talks


Boehner’s Millionaire Tax Offer Is A Joke

House John Boehner (R-OH) has proposed a tax increase on income in excess of $1 million. This is the first time that Boehner has proposed raising tax rates, but it’s a joke.

Pat Garofalo on Think Progress points out that (1) income tax rates are going to reset to the Clinton-era levels at the end of the year anyway, and (2) Dems have already made cuts to Medicare and elsewhere in the federal budget.

So by agreeing to Boehner’s deal, Democrats would be trading something that is going to happen anyway for something else that they’ve already done.

Also Boehner’s proposal reportedly does not include an increase in the debt ceiling, however The Washington Post is now reporting that Boehner has also offered “to push any fight over the federal debt limit off for a year.”

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Jonathan Chait: Why Republicans Can’t Propose Spending Cuts

FY 2013 budget

New York Magazine columnist Jonathan Chait explains what ought to be obvious to everyone, but isn’t:

Republicans think government spending is huge, but they can’t really identify ways they want to solve that problem, because government spending is not really huge. That is to say, on top of an ideological gulf between the two parties, we have an epistemological gulf. The Republican understanding of government spending is based on hazy, abstract notions that don’t match reality and can’t be translated into a workable program.

…The United States spends way less money on social services than do other advanced countries, and even that low figure is inflated by our sky-high health-care prices. The retirement benefits to programs like Social Security are quite meager. Public infrastructure is grossly underfunded.

The Bowles-Simpson “plan” was an earnest and badly needed attempt to reconcile the GOP’s hazy belief that government is enormous with reality. They did everything they could possibly do: They brought in representatives from all sides for long meetings with budget experts, going through all aspects of federal policy in detail, in the hope of reaching an agreement on the proper scope of government and how to pay for it. It failed. The Bowles-Simpson plan wound up punting on all the major questions because it simply couldn’t bridge that gulf between perception and reality.

…The real domestic savings in Bowles-Simpson came from building on Obamacare’s steps to save money by holding down the growth of health-care costs and to cut defense spending by pretty steep levels. But these turned out to be ideas that alienated rather than satisfied Republicans. So basically it turned out to be impossible to find real spending cuts that Republicans wanted.

…This is why the spending side of the fiscal cliff negotiation is so discouraging. The potential cuts on the table range from fairly painful steps like reducing the Social Security cost-of-living index to even more painful steps like raising the Medicare retirement age, and none of them would save all that much money — certainly not on the scale that Republicans want.

When the only cuts on the table would inflict real harm on people with modest incomes and save small amounts of money, that is a sign that there’s just not much money to save. It’s not just that Republicans disagree with this; they don’t seem to understand it. The absence of a Republican spending proposal is not just a negotiating tactic but a howling void where a specific grasp of the role of government ought to be. And negotiating around that void is extremely hard to do. The spending cuts aren’t there because they can’t be found.

Fortunately, there is already a deficit-reduction plan that has passed Congress and been signed into law by President Obama. It lets the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich expire at the end of the 2012, and cuts Pentagon spending by $500 billion over the next 10 years, with $55 billion of it expected in the first year.

UPDATE: Rep. Chris Van Hollen: Boehner is stalling on a so-called “fiscal cliff” deal until after his re-election as Speaker of the House on January 3.

UPDATE: Paul Krugman: “It’s a dangerous situation. The G.O.P. is lost and rudderless, bitter and angry, but it still controls the House and, therefore, retains the ability to do a lot of harm, as it lashes out in the death throes of the conservative dream.”


Krugman: Let’s Not Make A Deal

Let's Make A Deal

The old game show was called “Let’s Make A Deal.” Monty Hall would ask you which door do you want, Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3? Sometimes it worked fine, other times not such a good deal. President Obama should not play this game. Behind Door #1, there is House Speaker John Boehner refusing to consider allowing income taxes to return to the Clinton-era marginal rates – not even for just the top tax bracket. Behind Door #2, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is saying no to any tax increases on anybody, ever – whether by raising rates or eliminating loopholes. Behind Door #3, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is threatening to take the debt ceiling hostage again.

Paul Krugman:

President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands?

My answer is, not far at all. Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy. And this is definitely no time to negotiate a “grand bargain” on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

In saying this, I don’t mean to minimize the very real economic dangers posed by the so-called fiscal cliff that is looming at the end of this year if the two parties can’t reach a deal. Both the Bush-era tax cuts and the Obama administration’s payroll tax cut are set to expire, even as automatic spending cuts in defense and elsewhere kick in thanks to the deal struck after the 2011 confrontation over the debt ceiling. And the looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession.

Nobody wants to see that happen. Yet it may happen all the same, and Mr. Obama has to be willing to let it happen if necessary.

Why? Because Republicans are trying, for the third time since he took office, to use economic blackmail to achieve a goal they lack the votes to achieve through the normal legislative process. In particular, they want to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, even though the nation can’t afford to make those tax cuts permanent and the public believes that taxes on the rich should go up — and they’re threatening to block any deal on anything else unless they get their way. So they are, in effect, threatening to tank the economy unless their demands are met.

Mr. Obama essentially surrendered in the face of similar tactics at the end of 2010, extending low taxes on the rich for two more years. He made significant concessions again in 2011, when Republicans threatened to create financial chaos by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And the current potential crisis is the legacy of those past concessions.

Well, this has to stop — unless we want hostage-taking, the threat of making the nation ungovernable, to become a standard part of our political process.

So what should he do? Just say no, and go over the cliff if necessary.

It’s worth pointing out that the fiscal cliff isn’t really a cliff. It’s not like the debt-ceiling confrontation, where terrible things might well have happened right away if the deadline had been missed. This time, nothing very bad will happen to the economy if agreement isn’t reached until a few weeks or even a few months into 2013. So there’s time to bargain.

More important, however, is the point that a stalemate would hurt Republican backers, corporate donors in particular, every bit as much as it hurt the rest of the country. As the risk of severe economic damage grew, Republicans would face intense pressure to cut a deal after all.

The wealthiest 2 percent of Americans can afford to pay more taxes. As a member of the middle class, I see no problem in letting all the Bush-Obama tax cuts expire. The only way to handle this situation is let the “fiscal cliff” happen, and ignore the debt ceiling (which is unconstitutional anyway). When federal deficits disappear, nobody in Washington can use deficit hysteria to attack Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

What about our economy? The Congressional Budget Office predicts that if the Washington politicians went over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” we would experience a shallow recession and take about a year to recover. The U.S. economy would shrink about 0.5 percent over the year before bouncing back and growing at a rapid clip of 4.3 percent annually between 2014 and 2017.

UPDATE: Obama Calls On Congress To Extend “Middle Class” Tax Cuts Now

Of course, what President Obama is really talking about is extending all the Bush-Obama Tax Cuts For The Rich – except the income tax rate on those making over $250,000 a year. In other words, keeping about 80 percent of the Bush tax cuts.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol: ‘It Won’t Kill The Country If We Raise Taxes’ On Millionaires

UPDATE: Congressional Republicans’ ‘Compromise’: Everyone Should Accept Romney Tax Plan

UPDATE: Fiscal Cliff Scare Talk Follows Shock Doctrine Script

All of the people who had been hysterical about the budget deficit “crisis” are now hysterical that taxes will go up and spending will go down. Go figure. Maybe — just maybe — I shouldn’t even say it — these “serious people” weren’t … serious … when they said they were worried about the deficit.

UPDATE: Obama On Tax Cuts: President Rejects Republican Plan To Close Loopholes

UPDATE: Obama Breaks It To GOP: Tax Rates Are Likely Going Up

“This should not be a surprise to anyone…. The majority of voters agreed with me,” Obama said. “More voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.”

UPDATE: Obama Rejects Boehner’s Fake Tax Compromise


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