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If it wasn’t already obvious, the past few weeks surely have made it so: The House of Representatives has collapsed.

Sure, the buildings are still there: The chamber in the right-hand wing of the Capitol, those dumpy offices across Independence Ave. And the buildings are still filled with representatives and their staff—or will be, once they all get back to town.

But as far as acting as a functioning branch of the federal government, those people might just as well be the walking dead (although that could be a little unfair to flesh-eating zombies).

The House GOP leadership—or what now passes for it—can't even schedule a vote to stop taxes from rising for millions of Americans on New Year's Day, much less come up with a constructive bill for members to vote on.

The speaker of the House, a man just two heartbeats from the presidency, has been reduced to a cipher, watching passively as the Senate (the Senate!) tries to take the lead in finding a way out of a fiscal crisis.  

The once mighty Republican machine, which twice in living memory (1995 and 2011) vowed to roll over the White House like an M1 tank, sits paralyzed—rusted frozen, like the tin man in the Wizard of Oz.

The upshot of all this is that the House of Representatives—one of the two heads on the shoulders of our bicameral congressional beast—has been rendered largely irrelevant. The GOP majority can’t even negotiate with itself, much less with anyone else.

How did we reach this point? And can a broken House be put back into some kind of working order in time to head off a fiscal disaster? I have serious doubts.

The breakdown of the GOP machine is particularly stunning because the House is supposed to be the chamber least susceptible to legislative chaos, in large part because the majority has the power to work its will, unlike in the archaic, filibuster-infested Senate.

What’s more, the tools of majority power were honed to a razor-sharp edge in the last GOP Congress, supposedly giving the Republican House leadership a tight grip on both the legislative process and its own members.

But the spectacular failure of “Plan B” – Speaker Boehner’s last gasp attempt to force a tax bill through the House – demonstrated just how much has changed since the glory days of Newt Gingrich and the Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. The rise of the Tea Party, which was supposed to restore the GOP’s power in the House, instead has split it, and pitted it against itself.

In the process, we've learned that the tools of majority control can also be used as suicide weapons. It’s a lesson worth deeper analysis.  

The Speaker's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

To be sure, as a matter of policy the Plan B debacle wasn’t anything new: Boehner’s conference similarly sabotaged his efforts to cut a debt limit deal with the White House in the summer of 2011, and then vastly complicated what should have been the simple job of extending the payroll tax cut and jobless benefits at the end of that year.

But the political symbolism of what happened the week before Christmas is hard to overstate: On a do-or-die vote, Boehner’s own conference cut him off at the knees – or a somewhat higher spot on his anatomy – in the most public way imaginable.

I’m not a obsessive C-SPAN viewer, but I don’t recall ever seeing a speaker, Democrat or Republican, so roundly humiliated by his or her own party – although that might be because most have had the good sense not to bring legislative turkeys to the floor without first making absolutely sure they had the votes to pass them.

How could this happen?

Party Animal House: The Rise of Partisan Control

The standard explanation for congressional dysfunction is the extreme polarization of American politics, which supposedly has rendered compromise impossible. There are, however, a few problems with that story.

We have had periods of ideological polarization before – before the Civil War, for example, or around the turn of the last century. And yet the legislative wheels never ground to a halt in those periods. Indeed, it was a Northern backlash against repeated congressional compromises over slavery, not a lack of such deals, that put Abraham Lincoln in the White House and triggered the secession crisis.

My search for an explanation eventually led me to a 2006 book, Party Wars: Polarization and the Politics of National Policy Making, by Barbara Sinclair, a political science professor at UCLA. Her book helped me understand that the breakdown of the House is as much an internal institutional failure as a product of external polarization – although obviously the two are related.

In a sense, the crash of the GOP machine is the climax (or anti-climax) of a political process that actually began with the post-Watergate reforms of the mid-1970s.

Sinclair traces those reforms from their beginnings in the early 1960s, when liberal Democrats launched their protracted struggle against the Dixiecrat oligarchs who then dominated the House (the key committees in particular) by virtue of their immense seniority and their voting alliances with GOP conservatives.

The 1974 post-Watergate blowout finally gave the liberals the numbers they needed to overturn – or at least override – the seniority system, and make the key committee chairs directly responsible (and responsive) to the Democratic Caucus.

The way this was accomplished is strictly inside baseball, but the net effect was that the traditional “organic” institutions of the House – the committee structure, in particular – were subordinated to the party. Policy, heretofore set by committee chairs, who negotiated their own deals directly with their Senate counterparts and the White House, now flowed downward from the Democratic Caucus, via the party leadership:

. . . it fell to party leaders to see that legislation the party membership wanted was moved to the floor – and in a form that could command a floor majority and was satisfactory to most Democrats. Over time, leaders became more and more deeply involved in the shaping of . . . legislation.
To manage these duties, the leadership vastly expanded the whip system, to serve both as an in-house intelligence service and a control mechanism for obtaining votes. This, in turn, led to the creation of special legislative task forces – in essence, ad hoc committees, parallel to the permanent ones, but staffed by the party and answerable directly to the leadership.

The Party is Always Right

The mechanisms of Democratic Party control continued to expand through the 1980s and early 1990s. Sinclair’s contention – and I gather it is a controversial one – is that this growth set the stage for the GOP excesses that followed: In other word, there was far more continuity to the 1994 Republican “revolution” than Dems would like to admit.

I wouldn’t go that far, but there’s no denying the post-Watergate reforms greatly strengthened the partisan majority and diminished the minority. Committee chairs grew far more reticent about cooperating with their GOP ranking members. Those who wanted to keep their committees hustled to demonstrate their partisan loyalty to the caucus.

But while the Democrats generally didn’t run their system along strict ideological lines (the party was too diverse at the time for that), the Republicans who overthrew them in 1994 intended to do exactly that.

In the minority, the GOP had been slow to let go of the old seniority-based order. In the heat of the Republican "revolution," however, they leapfrogged the Dems, and began to build a partisan machine with more overt authoritarian tendencies.

For example: If the Dems limited the role of the minority in House-Senate conferences, for example, the Republicans kicked them out entirely – or bypassed formal conferences entirely. Likewise, if the Dems made committee chairs answerable to the caucus, the GOP subjected theirs to Star Chamber proceedings:

Republican party leadership instituted a new procedure for the selection of committee chairs: chair aspirants were required to appear before the Steering Committee . . . They were put through rigorous interviews about their legislative and communication strategies and their proposed agendas.
By the early 2000s, with Denny Hastert as figurehead Speaker, and Majority Leader Tom DeLay as the power not-so-behind the throne, the GOP had learned how to use its majority powers to exclude the Democrats from virtually any meaningful participation in the legislative process.

Lenin and the Hastert Rule

The most important partisan tool in the GOP's kit (the same one, ironically, that now has the House paralyzed) was the so-called Hastert Rule, articulated by the Speaker in a 2003 speech. His job – his only job – Hastert announced, was to work the will of the majority in his conference:

On occasion, a particular issue might excite a majority made up mostly of the minority [party] . . . The job of speaker is not to expedite legislation that runs counter to the wishes of the majority of his majority.
What this meant (and still means) is that GOP leaders would not allow a bill to reach the floor of the House unless it has the support of a majority within the Republican Conference. Since all conference members are expected to back the leadership on key bills, the goal is to legislate with an absolute minimum of Democratic votes – and thus an absolute minimum of Democratic Party input.

There is a name for this kind of system, although it isn't an American one. The GOP's approach to running the House in the DeLay/Hastert years bore an uncanny resemblance to the official parliamentary doctrine of the Soviet Union, which was a bit of Orwellian jargon called “democratic centralism.”

As you can probably guess, democratic centralism as practiced in the USSR was extremely heavy on the centralism, but light on the democratic – 100% democracy free, as a matter of fact. It required Communist Party members to obey all party decisions once made, without question or dissent. Or, as Lenin put it:

Freedom of discussion, unity of action – this is what we must strive to achieve.
With a nod to Speaker Hastert, we could also call it the Lenin Rule, since he invented it in pre-revolutionary days, when he and the Bolsheviks were fighting for control of the larger Russian Social Democratic Party.

Lenin had a gearing problem, which is to say he wasn’t very popular. But, he realized that if he could persuade a dedicated cadre to follow his lead, and that cadre could convince a larger group (a Bolshevik majority of the majority) to obey them, he could control first the faction and then the entire party.

The experiment yielded rather meager results (the party soon fell apart) but met with much greater success when tried in the revolutionary Soviet that appeared in St. Petersburg in 1917. Lenin and the Bolsheviks first talked their way into command of the Soviet, used the Soviet to control the revolutionary forces loyal to it, then used those forces to overthrow the provisional government. The rest is history – really, really bloody history.

The Tea Party and the Hastert Rule: Busting the GOP Machine

Please excuse the long historical detour. But my point is that like the Lenin Rule, the Hastert Rule made it possible for a relatively small group of GOP loyalists to control a much larger legislative body. To wit: The GOP Steering Committee controlled a majority in the Republican Conference, which controlled the conference, which controlled the House.

But – and this is a big but – Leninist party control requires Leninist party discipline. And that’s awfully hard to maintain: impossible, in fact, in a deliberative body with even a modest degree of autonomy.

Even in their heyday (the post 9/11 Bush years) the House GOP leadership had to struggle to force members to toe the “majority of the majority” line. The classic example was the 2003 Medicare Part D debate, in which Republicans were told to line up and cast their votes for an enormous dose of federal entitlement spending.

When too many conservative members refused to obey, the leaders had to hold the floor vote open for an astonishing three hours, until enough arms had been twisted or bought to pass the bill, over near unanimous Democratic opposition.

Which brings us, at last, to the heart of the problem – and it’s a familiar one for Republicans: math.

Even after the 2010 blowout, the GOP edge in the House was relatively thin – thinner than what Democrats enjoyed through most of their long years in power before 1995. This means a strict Hastert Rule (and the GOP leadership has allowed only a handful of exceptions) must always walk the knife’s edge.

A few stray defections are dangerous (as DeLay and company learned with the Medicare vote).  But when an entire party faction, and a well-organized one at that, refuses to go along it can be catastrophic - as John Boehner and his team learned last week.

Organized party factions, in fact, are a poison to “democratic centralism,” which is why Lenin banned them. Factions challenge party leadership simply by existing, since they tend to reduce the leaders to just another faction, bidding for rank-and-file support.

As long as Democrats are reasonably united in their opposition to GOP legislation, the 55 some odd members of the Tea Party Caucus, plus their fellow travelers, are now in a position where they can credibly block a majority of the Republican majority – the power they exercised on Plan B. They might, under the right circumstances, even be able to muster their own majority of the majority – turning the Hastert Rule into a tool that can be used against the party leadership, not just by it.

As I said earlier, this has been the prevailing dynamic within the GOP’s conference for some time, but now it’s out in the open for everybody to see.

It probably was inevitable that it would come to this: DeLay and Hastert pushed the mechanisms of top-down partisan control further than they could reasonably be expected to go in democracy – or at least a semi-democracy. When the political environment turned hostile to the GOP, the machine finally blew a gasket, leaving John Boehner with the messy job of trying to patch it up. And he failed.

Yet another irony: Gerrymandering, which was supposed to fortify the GOP majority, instead has helped castrate it. Entrenched in their districts, most House Republicans are far more terrified of the party’s Militant Tendency (i.e. the teabaggers) than they are of GOP leadership – much less the general electorate. And with good cause, since their chances of losing a primary, while statistically low, are a lot higher than the risk of losing to a Democrat.  

Dr. Strangelove's Revenge: A GOP Doomsday Device?

Schadenfreude is easy to come by. But sooner or later, someone is going to have to cobble together a House majority that can defuse the austerity bomb – or at least limit the blast radius – and raise the debt ceiling. I’m not certain it can be done. Even broken (or maybe because it is broken) the House GOP machine is starting to look like the real time bomb here.

The solution endorsed by every liberal pundit (and, I suspect, privately favored by the saner conservatives ones) is for the House leadership to ignore the Hastert Rule and bring a deal to the floor that can pass with Democratic support plus at least a sliver of the GOP: i.e., a minority of the majority.

But asking John Boehner to ditch democratic centralism at this point is asking a lot, even if he does win reelection as speaker. Much, if not all, of the GOP leadership’s legitimacy is tied up in the Hastert Rule – or, even more, in the mindset the rule represents.

As Sinclair points out, party discipline (under both Democrats and Republicans) usually has been exercised on behalf of party members, not imposed on them from above. For Boehner and company to break discipline now would be seen by many of their members as rank betrayal. While Boehner might survive, he’d be even more crippled than he is now (although admittedly, it’s getting hard to imagine a scenario where that isn’t the case).

Even if Boehner did release GOP members from their party vows, it’s not clear enough of them would be willing to do the nasty with the Dems – or that enough Democrats would be willing to do it with them.

Nate Silver, who’s been crunching the numbers (of course), notes that the near extinction of the conservative “Blue Dog” Democrats has left the GOP with a pitiful selection of potential dance partners if the deal brought to the floor leans too far towards conservative positions.

On the other hand, any deal that can attract a large number of progressive Democrats almost certainly will lose the entire Tea Party bloc – as well as the vast majority of GOP members who live in mortal fear of the Tea Party. Nate's bottom line:

“The difficulty is in finding any winning coalition of votes . . . this arithmetic problem could turn out to be intractable at some point.”
So this may be the way the world (or at least the House GOP machine) ends: Not with a whimper, but with a bang.

We maybe could hope that the threat of a major recession – combined, if the debt ceiling deal also goes south, with another global financial panic – will be sufficiently terrifying to the average GOP House member that it outweighs his or her fear of the teabaggers. But right now I’m not sure it would be the smart way to bet.    

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Comment Preferences

  •  This Is the New Normal. (28+ / 0-)

    Most Republicans and Democrats in DC don't have the interests of 99% of the population at heart, as just about every member of Congress belongs to the top 1%.

    Until this changes, I don't expect much else to.

    The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

    by teacherjon on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:33:39 AM PST

    •  You are correct. Power is shifting from D.C. (7+ / 0-)

      to more state-level and wealthy plutocratic points.

      The reason for this is that the force that allowed the (central) federal government to gain control of the U.S. in the first place was the existential threat of external enemies. With the collapse of the USSR in 1989 this source of legitimacy for the federal government disappeared.

      That force was the basis of forming nations in Europe. External threat required the barons to give power to a central authority - king - to protect the nation. (Polands Barons refused and Poland disappeared as a national government for over a century.) Then the Thirty Year's War proved that large professional standing armies almost always defeated larger Feudal levy's or Mercenary armies. But that required taxing larger geographic areas of subsistence farmers.  Government by bureaucracy was created and expanded to meet this need.

      What force required the local powers of each of the 13 colonies to give up power to a central government? The war against the British. And the first effort - the Articles of Confederation - did not provide enough centralized power to protect the new nation.

      Power in America has always centralized in the face of external threat and decentralized again when the threat disappeared. The latest threat disappeared with the USSR in 1989.

      America is now watching as smaller power centers run wild fighting for supremacy. State governments for the most part have long been dominated by wealthy families. But the banks have become powers of their own, as Wall Street has demonstrated.

      In fact, the Multinational Corporations of all kinds have escaped most national controls everywhere, even in the U.S. which is at present the largest economy not totally centralized. (China is experimenting with letting limited non-government power centers to exist, but it's touchy.)

      You may notice the resemblance of my list to the 2% described by the Occupy Wall Street organizations.

      If you look at the political agenda of the conservatives y the issues are invariably focused on taking power away from the central federal government. Cut the taxes, reduce the regulations, devolve power to the states, eliminate federal benefits to individual citizens and residents. Those are not random issues. They all have a single focus.

      The total conservative movement is focused on "gelding" the centralized powers of the federal government. It's not about efficiency or local (democratic) control. It's about permitting local dictatorships of the type that still exist throughout the South. In a rural county to most powerful person in government is usually the Sheriff. Remember, the state governments are the level of government the 2% can still control. Above that level the government tends to become too independent of the 2% (even with lobbyists.)

      Anyway, Billmon's article here is outstanding. He has always demonstrated deep understanding regarding what is going on along with an amazing ability to write clearly about it. Thanks again, Billmon.

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 11:33:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Many good points here - Federalist #10 stuff (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasLefty

        "Remember: the state governments are the level of government the 2% can still control"

        Echoes Madison's argument about why large republics more stable, democratic than small ones: More diverse, so factions balance each other's power.

  •  Combined with a prevailing nihilism: (25+ / 0-)

    The republican core is convinced that America is doomed anyway.  It's not trying to prevent what it sees as inevitable: it is trying to grab liferafts for the rich and for the not-rich, the pleasure of watching fellow americans swirl the bow.

    One piece of free advice to the GOP: Drop the culture wars, explicitly.

    by Inland on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:35:21 AM PST

  •  Billmon, great to read as always! (28+ / 0-)

    What a New Year's Eve treat.

    Skepticism of all the elite institutions, not trust, is what required for successful leadership in this era. Digby

    by coral on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:38:00 AM PST

  •  I've seen this coming for a long, long time (31+ / 0-)

    back in the 90's when Gingrich shut down the government I heard many people say, "Well, at least the government isn't doing anything wrong". And I heard that from Republicans AND Democrats. Yes, the government shut down eventually turned out badly for the Repukes but ever since Reagan capitalized on making "I'm from government and I'm here to help" a scare tactic we should've realized the day would come that Repukes would find a way to do this.

    What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:40:40 AM PST

    •  Long-term thinkers, if any, are ignored. (9+ / 0-)

      I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
      NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
      Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

      by OleHippieChick on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:03:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  What they mean is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, Oh Mary Oh

      "Well, at least the [Federal] government isn't doing anything wrong"

      That is from the point of view of the 2% who firmly believe that they should have all the power to fleece the public the way businesses which are unregulated invariably do. Look at the history of the railroads and the banks.

      When power is taken away from the federal government, why does no one bother to ask where it goes? Power does not just disappear. It only moves.

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 11:47:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, the have little or no problem when (0+ / 0-)

        the coporate shadow government raises their taxes costs on everything from breakfast cereal to gasoline. Hell, they actually BLAME the government for the prices of things the government over which the government has no control. Because we can't blame "the job creators".

        What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

        by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:01:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Doctor Strangelove please explain (14+ / 0-)

    http://www.imdb.com/...

    http://homepage.eircom.net/...

    "Under the authority granted me as director of weapons research and development, I commissioned last year a study of this project by the Bland corporation. Based on the findings of the report, my conclusion was that this idea was not a practical deterrent, for reasons which, at this moment, must be all too obvious"

    As the Elites Come Together to Rise Above to Find a Third Way to do Rude things to the 99%

    by JML9999 on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:41:28 AM PST

  •  Who cares? (12+ / 0-)

    Unelected lame ducks shouldn't be making "deals" on consequential matters anyway.  It is one of the many perversions of democracy that we should have done away with long ago.  They should have adjourned on November 7.

  •  Yeah, it's over. (7+ / 0-)

    It's time for another Constitutional Convention.

    Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

    by trevzb on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:42:43 AM PST

  •  Excellent piece of writing (16+ / 0-)

    And a great summary of the clusterfuck that is the GOP House caucus right now.

  •  I think that the US is just too big, and it has (16+ / 0-)

    become ungovernable. No one represents the people anymore. Congressional districts now include 700k people. It is no longer the people's house.

    •  Only way out is to increase the House membership (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ontheleftcoast, MPociask, Matt Z

      should be one Rep per 30,000.

      That would make it about 10,000 today.

      Technology can make it happen.

      Notice: This Comment © 2012 ROGNM

      by ROGNM on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:52:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Something more modest, perhaps (5+ / 0-)

        The House functioned just fine after Alaska and Hawai'i were added to the nation and set the current number of Representatives to 435 (voting) members. The population in 1960, the first election after they joined, was 180,000,000. That gave us one Representative for ~400,000 Americans. Bring that ratio back and we'd have 745 Representatives. However it still wouldn't be the "People's House" since it'll still be control by the monied interests. Be it 435 or 10,000 if they're controlled by the money in politics they won't help "We the People" any more than they do today.

        What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

        by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:59:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've never really understood the house cap (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Matt Z

          The Constitution specifically says how many people each representative should represent. How is it that we don't follow that rule without a Constitutional amendment?

          •  It only gives a minimum, not a maximum (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus

            Basically it was to avoid a terrority becoming a state with only 5,000 people in it getting a full vote in the House. The current law reads

            After the first enumeration required by the first Article of the Constitution, there shall be one Representative for every thirty thousand, until the number shall amount to one hundred, after which, the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall be not less than one hundred Representatives, nor less than one Representative for every forty thousand persons, until the number of Representatives shall amount to two hundred, after which the proportion shall be so regulated by Congress, that there shall not be less than two hundred Representatives, nor more than one Representative for every fifty thousand persons.
            This means we must have at least 200 Representatives and at least 50,000 people represented by each. Which makes the earlier proposal of one per 30,000 impossible without Amendment.

            What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

            by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:42:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Or split the country into regions. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

        by Bush Bites on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:01:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  True & it was done on purpose (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue jersey mom
    •  That's because of Court Decisions Making Money (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      judyms9, eru, mightymouse, coral, Oh Mary Oh

      speech, and permitting corporations to campaign, and because of media deregulation, much more than the size of the country.

      The tea party caucus is answering to billionaires who absolutely want this government to blow up. Anybody who balks at the billionaires will have a money bomb dropped on them next election and they'll lose their nomination.

      Neither the party nor the House leadership has as much influence on them, can't help them or hurt them as much, as the billionaires.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:55:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's in process with their taking the nation from (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alice kleeman, pelagicray, Oh Mary Oh

        the state level to the federal.  Keep your efforts local because thats where the euthanasia of government is taking place while we've been looking at the nationals.

        Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

        by judyms9 on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:05:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  As I posted above - It's power shifting (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          judyms9, pelagicray, jayden, Oh Mary Oh

          What is happening right now is the removal of power from the federal government that has resulted from the collapse of the USSR.  There is no longer an existential threat outside the U.S. to justify letting the federal government have the power to draft soldiers, concern itself with their health, build interstate highways, control national corporations and banks, enforce civil rights laws, etc.

          The reason why there is such opposition to global warming is that global warming IS an external existential threat which will justify shifting power back to the Federal Government. Nothing else can deal with it.

          Only those [self-centered and greedy] conservatives currently fighting to claw back power from the feds recognize the problems they face if climate change is taken seriously and the government is given the power to deal with it. We are talking about people with all the willful blindness of Wall Street bankers who refuse to recognize their culpability in the creation of the Great Recession.

          The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

          by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:01:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  "Disaster" rhetoric leaves all of us vulnerable (16+ / 0-)

    to a last-minute, stroke-of-midnight swindle, with billions in giveaways tucked into the fine print.

    ... can a broken House be put back into some kind of working order in time to head off a fiscal disaster?
    This sort of swindle has become a Washington staple the past few years.

    We're being played. Again.

    “Americans are fighters. We're tough, resourceful and creative, and if we have the chance to fight on a level playing field, where everyone pays a fair share and everyone has a real shot, then no one - no one - can stop us. ”-- Elizabeth Warren

    by Positronicus on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:46:56 AM PST

    •  Disaster Capitalism (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Positronicus, jayden, Oh Mary Oh

      Naomi Klein wrote about it in Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

      That's what the Fiscal Cliff was supposed to do - create an artificial disaster that forced Congress to act against the benefit of the nation. The entire sky-is-falling discussion of the Deficit is an example of Disaster Capitalism being practiced.

      Banks love it when they can risk public money for their private gain and stick tax payers with their losses. They can bet the moon, and either win or get a big payout as they leave the job. Top executives in large corporations similarly operate almost entirely in a banking manner, managing their organizations by budget rather then engineering knowledge.

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:12:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Constitution (12+ / 0-)

    I know that many have mentioned this, but it seems appropriate here:  the Constitution requires that tax measures originate in the House.  I doubt that the founding fathers ever imagined a house in such disrepair.

    •  Who could've imagined the Tea Party? (7+ / 0-)

      Hell, on their best day Shyamalan, Craven, and Romero combined couldn't have dreamt up zombies as soulless and devoid of life as the Teapublicans. So no, I don't think Jefferson, et.al. could've have either.

      What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

      by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:52:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  False (9+ / 0-)

        Haven't you read about how difficult it was to pass the Constitution? Or how the Continental Congress dithered and bickered?  There were reptiles exactly as soulless as the Tea Party at the founding of this country.

        The problem is never the existence of evil. The problem is that good becomes timid and unsure of itself.

        •  Oh please, I've read more about that than most (7+ / 0-)

          I know about the crazy ass compromises that gave us the Senate and 3/5th's of a human and more. But that's the difference -- they got something, albeit imperfect, to happen. Completely shutting down the country was beyond them, in the end they were all more willing to negotiate then to do nothing. Yes, we've had "Do Nothing"s in the past. But the level of obstruction in unprecedented. Look at the cloture problem in the Senate. Look at the 30+ bills to repeal Obamacare and ZERO jobs bills coming out of the House. This is a whole new level of crazy that we've never seen.

          What's wrong with America? I'll tell you. Everything Romney said was pre-chewed wads of cud from Republicans from the last 30 years and yet he managed thru a combination of racism and selling the (false) hope of riches to get 47% of the national vote.

          by ontheleftcoast on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:04:44 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  If there were a real American existential crisis (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Oh Mary Oh

            then the conservatives would not dare threaten to shut the nation down. That was the difference at the time of the Articles of Confederation and again when the Constitution was written. The price of inaction was too high.

            The existential crisis has to be from outside the U.S. or otherwise beyond the direct control of the U.S. government to effect the actions, though.

            Now the teapublicans just see the cost of inaction as a cost of business as they force their sick, ignorant, and self-centered crap down our throats.

            The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

            by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:19:18 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  I did. I didn't want to vote for PBO in 2008 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Matt Z, slothlax, Odysseus

        ...because I was convinced that a racist "anti-govenment" backlash would follow the election of our First Black President. At the time, I just didn't think we were strong enough to take on RepubliCorp and The Confederacy at the same time.

        In spite of all that's happened, I'm glad we did electe the FBP in 2008. America needed to be shown how the unholy alliance between Wall Street and blue-collar white racism has harmed us all.

        We'll get through this, and be stronger as a result.

        Have you noticed?
        Politicians who promise LESS government
        only deliver BAD government.

        by jjohnjj on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:02:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here's how they do it: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cotterperson

      It's pretty common for the Senate to take a trivial money-related bill already passed by the House, then amend it by gutting everything and inserting whatever they want. The "differences" get resolved in conference committee.

  •  My "non political" relatives are p**sed (11+ / 0-)

    Over the holidays w/family there were brief conversations about the "locked horns" congress..and was surprised to hear anger in their voices. There was no discussion on "D's" or "R's" ..they were upset over the "non action" in congress.  If THEY are p**sed..its a safe guess that  a whole lot of other folks are equally ignited.

  •  legislative dysfunction is everywhere you look. (19+ / 0-)

    also in the Senate:

    "This is just one of those days when you want to throw up your hands and say, ‘What in the world are we doing?’ ” Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, said.

    “It’s unconscionable,” Carl Levin, the senior Democratic senator from Michigan, said. “The obstructionism has become mindless.”

    Of course Levin now is trying to undermine filibuster reform. You throw up your hands.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:49:05 AM PST

  •  The one thing the Republicans in the House hate (7+ / 0-)

    more than being forced to compromise is anything that is supported by Democrats - especially President Obama.  Anything they support will immediately get a "No" from the Tea Baggers and every Republican afraid of being primaried by Tea Baggers, which is pretty much all of them.  Sadly, that's a majority of the House, so no legislation can be passed and the US deserves what happens to it.  I'm thinking the country has to really suffer if it's going to change its ways, and the politicians in Washington will do just enough to make sure that the suffering is born by the 99%.

  •  Dude (6+ / 0-)

    If you accept that all Republicans (and a lot of Democrats) reason to exist is to serve the 1%, then they're basically happy with things the way they are.  Why would they actually want to do anything; they absolutely believe that any crisis won't affect them.  This is a feature, not a bug.

    •  Except (10+ / 0-)

      Recession is not good for the 1%. The GOP leadership's core mission is to disembowel the regulatory state while directing resources toward the industries that support them - to support monopolies and federal funding for the defense industry, to assure than the financial industry is free of meaningful oversight. But those very interests are hurt by recession. They are hurt by downgrading of the US credit score.  They need a deal on the debt ceiling just as much as anyone else.

      But that isn't necessarily the mandate of the GOP Congressional rank and file. The Tea Party types are driven by hatred toward government, ethnonationalism, and ideology... they aren't as easily controlled. Many major financial backers of the GOP are worried about a recession, but they can't control the back benchers anymore. This is the irony - they funded a revolution, which failed to take a majority, but wants to act like one.  

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:31:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Driving Interest Are 0.01% Not the 1%. nt (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        judyms9, Brother Artemis, mightymouse

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:57:24 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm Not Sure Recession Hurts The 1% (3+ / 0-)

        I know people who are doing well, and they are a lot less wealthy than the 1%.  They took advantage, after the initial shock, of low priced housing and the more restrictive rules that make more people unqualified for loans.  It was posted in another thread (thanks Ricochet67) that the 1%ers he works for have been tax harvesting or taking advantage of tax rules to offset the effects of anticipated tax increases.

        IMHO, all that is being proposed (kicking the can further down the street, raising the taxes on people above $450K, cutting safety nets) will adversely affect the middle class in the long run as much as the recession, if not more so.  It will be hell for many people but some wealthy would much rather rule in hell than to serve in heaven.

        "The only hope is to keep the Republicans from shredding the safety net one hostage crisis at a time." - Kentucy DeanDemocrat

        by Senor Frog on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:05:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It will hurt them in the long run! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Oh Mary Oh

          Unfortunately that will take a while, but I've never seen a ruling elite that continued to be a ruling elite.  We are just repeating history (not exactly of course, but in manner) mindlessly. It would be nice if some lessons were ever learned, but to some people a big bone for them NOW is better than a continuing supply of smaller bones for everybody, including themselves.  Greed and lust for power is all.

          Where are the rulers of Tikal? St. Petersburg?  Rome? Alexandria?

          "They say the Lion and the Lizard keep
          The courts where Jamshyd gloried and drank deep
          And Bahram, that great hunter - the Wild Ass
          Stamps o'er his Head, and he lies fast asleep"

          - Omar Khayyam as translated by Edward Fitzgerald

      •  Recesion is a long-term problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh

        and these guys are short-term thinkers at best. They'll simply blame recessions on the natural working out of the economy as it balances itself.

        Someone else's problem, of course.

        The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

        by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:27:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Who benefits from economic contraction? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TJ, mike101, mightymouse, Odysseus, Oh Mary Oh

      That is the question to ask. A large portion of the power structure has been championing austerity measures in the US that are guaranteed to hurt the economy. No mater the rhetoric they sprout for the benefit of their ignorant followers, the money men obviously understand what the results will be. Is this merely another opportunity to drive the markets and wages down to allow them to gobble up even a larger share of the economic pie or do they have grander plans?

  •  Decades of "Towing the Line" have left the GOP... (13+ / 0-)

    impotent.  When a group of people answer opposing view points with banishment into the political wilderness will always end up powerless.  

    Take a look at the mess in Iraq.  The GOP can kick ass and destroy a country but when it is time to  run a country they have no idea.  In Iraq not one hospital was built, the University system was broken, the sewers didn't work, the electrical grid barely functioned and this is when the GOP had absolute unquestioned power yet they still fucked it all up.

    The GOP as a whole has absolutely no idea what they are doing.  They have taken their hands off of the wheel and it is time for someone else to drive.  I hope the rest of the country draws the same conclusion.

     

    I'm just here for the Mojo!

    by Gator on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:51:34 AM PST

  •  Excellent analysis, and it proves an axiom (6+ / 0-)

    Specifically the one that warns "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it." It also destabilizes another: since in this case power destroys.

    Now, the question is how we get through the next two years. I live in one of the bluest of the blue states, so the curb won't hurt me that much (unless it turns out that my salary come the end of February entitles me to food stamps, which is very possible). There will be a solution by then, however, and it will be one that the House Democrats can vote for.

    -7.75, -8.10; Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:51:55 AM PST

  •  I don't think Teabaggers mind a major recession. (10+ / 0-)

    In their minds, it's already survival of the fittest, so a recession will just ensure that the least-fit die.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:52:06 AM PST

  •  The House may be hopelessly broken... (4+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately, though, the House controls the nation's pocketbook and there ain't no way around that sticky little wicket.

    That's why I support taking all options off the table for right now, PBO going on record that he will veto any fiscal curb bill sent to him by this congress, and that there will be no further discussion until the new congress is seated.

    If the house leadership continues to act like spoiled brats in the new congress, fuck'em, no deal. Make them vote against legislation ala carte - such as an unencumbered  unemployment extension. Make them vote against extending working class tax relief on its own.

    Or, make the "grand bargain" that finally eliminates fiscal chatter as a political talking point so we can get back to meat and potatoes issues like guns, god, and gays (since that seems to be working out so well for the GOP).

    "Mitt who? That's an odd name. Like an oven mitt, you mean? Oh, yeah, I've got one of those. Used it at the Atlas Society BBQ last summer when I was flipping ribs."

    by Richard Cranium on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:53:02 AM PST

  •  You describing symptoms rather than the disease (8+ / 0-)

    The problem with the House is that itsno longer little "d" democratic in how people are elected to it. The rules of what happens once representatives are there is an after effect.

    Both parties conspire to keep the numbers in the House lower than what the population requires at this point, especially considering t he influence of money and the amount required to run a race

    Both parties conspire to gerrymander.

    Until those two issues are dealt with, the house will increasingly become l ess democratic because it creates a concentration of power rather than a diffusion of it towards local representation.

  •  Star Trek fortold about this phase of the GOP (13+ / 0-)
    The logs reveal that the ship investigated the breakup of a planet and was soon attacked by an enormous machine with a conical shell miles in length and a giant opening at one end filled with sparkling energy. After the attack, Decker ordered his surviving crew to the surface of a nearby planet, but to his horror, the machine destroyed that world next. Spock theorizes the machine breaks down planets into rubble which it then consumes for fuel and adds that given its past trajectory, it is likely to have come from outside the galaxy and will continue towards the "most densely populated region of our galaxy."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    GOP breaks governments and anyone but the rich and then consumes them as fuel

    Gene Roddenberry was a modern Nostradamus ayes tells ya

    someone needs to put a GOP elephant on that device

    Bumper sticker seen on I-95; "Stop Socialism" my response: "Don't like socialism? GET OFF the Interstate highway!"

    by Clytemnestra on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:54:44 AM PST

  •  And Obama just (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coral

    gave them all a raise!  PERFECT!

    •  It wasn't only them. The long-awaited increase (4+ / 0-)

      will supposedly affect many other depts. There's always an up- and a down-side to every stinking move in this lame power struggle.
      Having to deal with these avaricious dirtbags, I wouldn't wish PBO's job on my worst enemy. Among his many attributes, he's a brave man.

      I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
      NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
      Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

      by OleHippieChick on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:23:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Congress used to vote their own pay separately (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        OleHippieChick, Oh Mary Oh

        Congress did not vote for a pay raise for federal civil servants from 1952 until Kennedy was elected. But they did raise their own pay.

        Now Congress can't get more pay raise than the people who do real work. That's a major improvement. One which Nixon brought about, as I recall.

        The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

        by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:36:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Wasn't there also a time (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rick B, Oh Mary Oh

          when the oinkers didn't have to do anything and their pay rose automatically? They would have had to vote down the increase. Wonder who ended that scam.

          I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
          NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
          Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

          by OleHippieChick on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:58:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That was the automatic pay increase for (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Oh Mary Oh, OleHippieChick

            Federal Civil Servants that Obama suspended for two years. It was based on the CPI and was passed in part because it meant that Congress-turkeys wouldn't have to vote on their own pay raises. Importantly, it also meant that a conservative couldn't do like Ike did and just freeze federal pay for a decade to save money. It was a tradeoff.

            Keep in mind that most of the bad things about the government are the direct result of Congressional interference. Any time you can keep Congress from interfering in government functions that part of the government has the opportunity to operate efficiently and actually do what it is supposed to do. For the opposite side, look how Congress has gelded the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Agency.

            The tradeoff for connecting Congressional pay raises to those of the federal civil service was worth it because it kept professionals in the jobs in specialized positions in the federal government for long periods of time. As a civil servant you no longer had to always be looking for a job outside the government. You could make a career of it. It also remains possible to make a career of being a Congressman or Senator without outside sponsors. Look at Joe Biden, for example. For the opposite look at Texas state legislators who are paid $7,200 per year salary and work four months every two years. Without sugar daddy's they cannot afford to be elected, let alone serve.

            The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

            by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 02:14:57 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  He lifted a 2 year pay freeze for federal workers (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VickiL, Aquarius40, shenderson

      "This is NOT what I thought I'd be when I grew up."

      by itzik shpitzik on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:29:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama doesn't decide congressional salaries (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pelagicray

      I really wish people would stop assuming the President has powers he does not.

  •  the House of Misrepresentatives (7+ / 0-)

    would be a more accurate description, for many reasons:
    the current group of thugs misleading that body misrepresent in every sense of that word: They misrepresent the will of the People each and every single day they are allowed to continue to occupy the legislative body that they purchased themselves control of (thanks to massive, unlimited amounts of secret corporate cash, compliments of five of the most corrupt Supreme Court Injustices in American history (Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, William Kennedy and John Roberts in their Citizens United ruling/abomination/in-kind contribution to the Republican Party).

    They misrepresent the People; they misrepresent themselves by lying to the American people about what they really want to do, what their goals and aims are, what their tactics are and what the causes of their dysfunction are. They deliberately misrepresent themselves, their policies and their motivation (i.e. money from billionaires) in everything they do.

    This truly is the United States House of Misrepresentatives, in every sense of that word.

  •  Self-Inflicted Crisis Factory (8+ / 0-)

    Pathetic replay of the August 2011 Debt Ceiling debacle

  •  A feat of journalism, thanks. n/t (7+ / 0-)

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:57:04 AM PST

  •  Don't they want disaster? (18+ / 0-)

    As we saw with the government shutdown of 1994, the debt ceiling debacle of 2011, and the filubusters of 2011-12 in the Senate, the real goal of the GOP seems to be to end representative government. Representative government is too risky and unstable for authoritarians. They admire the trains running on time (even if, in Mussolini's Italy, they didn't) above good, far-sighted but messy decision making.

    The GOP has tried on five occasions in the last century, to seize power, either partially or absolutely: the coup against FDR that General Butler testified to in the 1930s, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the impeachment of Clinton, and Florida 2000. Recall that in the impeachment of Clinton, Gingrich actually believed that he would become president.  

    The GOP-Bolshevik comparison, by the way, was done more fully by Michael Lind in Up From Conservatism. It's a much larger phenomenon than what's happening in the House.

    So, I think the GOP wants disaster. In economic collapse, they see the chance to seize power. And seizure of power is a long historical pattern with them. They are, after all, the political descendants of the royalists who never wanted the United States to cease to serve King George.

  •  The senate's not doing so great either. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, a2nite, MPociask

    Same reason or was it designed to do nothing?

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:58:47 AM PST

    •  intense R partisanship + stupid rules = 0 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, cotterperson, Midwest Meg

      thinking a lot about legislatures these days - my NY State lege is as bad as the fed level as far as bang for the buck goes.

      we have a governor, a state senate, and an assembly to democratize governance - and all the decisions are made by 3 people.

      An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

      by mightymouse on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:14:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Senate was designed to stop action. (0+ / 0-)

      The Senate was the American equivalent of the House of Lords, designed to prevent the parties of the masses from taking government control away from the rural patrician class. Most of America's wealth belonged to Southern rural patricians until after the Civil War.

      The Senate was established with a preponderance of rural power (two Senators, small rural state or large population urban state) so that "bad" legislation by the populist parties could be stopped. The House of Electors has a similar small state bias built in so that the urban mass parties cannot elect a President the rural patricians dislike. It still shifts the power to elect the President from the large populous states towards the smaller rural states.

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:46:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Democracy (5+ / 0-)

    I find it so deliciously ironic that we have always been about the "spread of democracy" for the world as if it was the United State's gift for everyone. What is often the first thing said about Israel? "Well, it's the area's only democracy!"

    Our Republic basically has a dysfunctional government and has had one for quite a while. Voices of sanity are drowned out by a screaming mob brandishing pitchforks and torches.

    I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. Kurt Vonnegut

    by klimtone on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:58:56 AM PST

  •  After the cliff, I would like to see (0+ / 0-)

    Boehner sweat out and pass his own terrible plan only to have the Senate vote it down and force them to a vote on the original Senate plan.

  •  A condensed narrative for the urgency of undivided (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    ...government must be drilled into the American populace so the 2014 elections will be raised up as a chance to reclaim a functioning government for America and throw out the bums.

    And, not OT, at the moment a Rep. from Texas is speaking in the House about the WWI Centennial Commission.

  •  Hastert Rule Isn't Really a New Idea (7+ / 0-)

    I worked in the House from the last year of the Tip O'Neill Speakership through the beginning of the Newt Gingrich Speakership.  O'Neill, Wright and Foley were all loath to bring bills to the floor that required R support to win.  The "Hastert Rule" may not have been publicly stated in 1980s and early 90s but it was well known behind closed doors you needed a majority of D votes to get something  through the Rules Committee and to the floor.

    The big difference was the Dem and Repub caucuses in those days were more diverse and the compromises needed to bring along the moderate Dems usually brought along some Northeast Liberal Republicans.  However, only the moderate Dems got carrots to vote for the bills.

    •  The difference between Dem-run House and post-94 (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, coral, Odysseus, TexasLefty

      GOP regime was one of degree, not kind -- that's why I started with the post-Watergate reforms.

      But degrees matter. The Republicans have boxed themselves in to the point where it's just about impossible - for internal political reasons - for the leadership to ignore the Hastert Rule.

  •  We got here because the Republicans finally (14+ / 0-)

    scrapped the bottom of that southern strategy barrel and got the worse of the lunatics left in that barrel to get elected.

    Ironically they scrapped the bottom as the country is changing and not enough lunatics are left to win another presidential election or a majority in the senate. The house is next. The teabaggers are the monkey on the back of the republicans and unless they get rid of them, the republican party is finished in the next few years.

    The southern strategy has finally kicked the republicans in their butts. Best thing to do is set traps, set back and watch a downfall of their own making.

  •  The Big Purge 2014 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, OleHippieChick, bws, Midwest Meg

    Why not try and convince conservative voters in 2014 to vote Democratic one single time in order to send a message to the GOP that they want their party back. Tell them to 'lie' to the pollsters so that the establishment couldn't even see it coming even if they had hired all the Nate Silvers in this world.

    OK - just dreamin'...

    Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -- Philip K. Dick

    by RandomGuyFromGermany on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:03:04 AM PST

  •  too big of deal made about fiscal cliff. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, OleHippieChick, judyms9

    Taxes going up are not the problem. Frankly I think they should o up for everyone. What is the prblem is the budget sequester. However not even that happens all at once.

    I think the congress needs to take time to work out  tax reform, not some last minute deal. Besides the less you pay in payroll taxes now means less SS in the future.

  •  The bottom line (0+ / 0-)

    America is doomed without a external shock to the system that compels Congress to act rational.

    PBO is doing a competent job, but he needs to be more liberal.

    by jimgilliamv2 on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:06:03 AM PST

    •  Is such a thing even possible? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shenderson, judyms9, mightymouse, coral

      Look at gun control.  Six and seven year olds massacred, the latest in a string of gun massacres.  What are the chances a substantive bill that changes gun culture will pass the House?  15%?  30%?

      Look at the deficit.  Near universal agreement that the deficit is a gigantic problem that needs immediate attention.  Universal agreement among elected officials that spending needs to be cut to address the deficit (in the face of a gigantic recession already proven to be made worse by austerity, but that's a digression).  And near universal agreement among elected officials that the Pentagon's budget, at a near all time high, should be held sacred and not face any cuts, ever (but maybe we'll slow the rate of growth a little).  

      Don't count on external shocks - as Naomi Klein has shown, they'll just be used by forces of reaction and the oligarchs.  Organize, organize, organize - the only way to make Congress act rational is to elect rational people to Congress.

      •  Climate change will be the next external shock (0+ / 0-)

        The reason why the conservatives have stopped all discussion of climate change is that it will cause a recentralization of power back to the Federal government.

        But the weather effects just keep rolling in, whether the media talks about them as climate change or not. I read that 2013 will see four super-storms, 1 in North America and 3 in Asia. The drought in the central U.S. states is already two - three years old and getting worse. The Southern U.S. - populated in recent years because of air conditioning - is going to find the cost of keeping out of the heat impossible.

        These are not state-level challenges. These are national and international, and they will require bureaucracies and decision bodies that encompass each of them (like rivers require a single administrative body to administer them.)

        The conservatives always represent the older power centers. They will either fight the creation of these new power centers or they will try to control them for their own purposes. Plan on it. The definition of a conservative is a representative of the older already existing power centers.

        The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

        by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:02:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's what happens when the far-right gets too much (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick

    power. Smoking rubble. Metaphorically, for the moment.

  •  "...fiscal crisis..." NOT! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, judyms9, Midwest Meg

    What will happen?  The Defense budget will be cut -- we want that don't we?

    The income tax for some will go up -- slightly -- for some.  Many will stilll be in that (dispised) 47% that pay no taxes.  The rich will pay 4.6% more income tax -- we want that don't we?  Whatever money is re channeled will be spent.  It's not going to vaporize.  It will just be spent on different things.

    The payroll tax rate will go back to normal -- big deal.  Makes Social Security and Medicare less able to be used as a threat by Teabaggers.

    The economy is not hyper-active like the '90's but it is not crashing either.  I live in a ski town.  There are no shortage of people spending lots of money skiing and buying beer and pizza and new clothes and $5.00 gas and nobody is bitching about it.  

    The "fiscal cliff" is just another Swine Flu, SARS,Avian Flu, Y2K, Mushroom Cloud, Debt Ceiling golem built from shadows of electronic songs singing along the internet like nano-whales feeding on nano-krill.

    If nothing happens today -- nothing will happen tomorrow either.

    •  Taxes will go up the most on the poor (0+ / 0-)

      47% pay little or no income tax due to a raft of deductions and credits that will be gone. Their income taxes will instantly shoot up when things like the Earned Income Tax Credit expire.

      •  Could you please give an example? (0+ / 0-)

        Use a single person earning $40,000 a year.  That's above average income in my town.

        Do the math and show us.....

        •  Math (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dfe

          2012:

          Gross: $40000
          Less personal exemption: -$3800
          Less standard deduction: -$5950
          Gives taxable income: $30250

          Tax:
          First $8700 taxed at 10%: $870
          Remainder taxed at 15%: $3232.50
          Total: $4102.50

          2013 after the cliff:

          Pre EGTRAA (first Bush tax cut) tax rates (tax year 2000):
          Personal exemption $2800
          Standard deduction $4400
          First $26250 taxed at 15%
          Remainder taxed at 28%

          The monetary values for all four items above will be indexed for inflation.  As far as I know, nothing done since 2000 has affected the personal exemption and standard deduction, and indeed both 2012 figures are 35% more than their 2000 equivalents.  

          Again as far as I know, the IRS has not published updated figures for personal exemption and standard deduction for 2013.  CCH, a tax research service, makes the estimate below.  Applying the same (admittedly rough) correction to the bracket limits gives

          Gross: $40000
          Less personal exemption: -$3900 (1.39x 2000 figure)
          Less standard deduction: -$6100 (also 1.39x 2000 figure)
          Gives taxable income: $30000

          Tax:
          First $36487.50 taxed at 15%: $4500 (36487.5 = 26250*1.39)

          Tax increase is $397.50, or 10% more than in 2012.

        •  Here's a calculator to show tax increases (0+ / 0-)

          A family of four with an income of $33,499 would pay $3,747 more if we go over the cliff. This will destroy families at the lower income range.

          http://www.neoseeker.com/...

  •  Doctored Strangehate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OleHippieChick
    "It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. The Premier loves surprises."

    yksitoista ulotteinen presidentin shakki. / tappaa kaikki natsit "Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) 政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:11:45 AM PST

  •  Rand Paul on the floor (4+ / 0-)

    "Raising taxes will drown people...are we going to drown 2% of our own people?" My God what have we become!!
    Fuck, the drama. I think we should just waterboard them. Or Rand Paul.

    I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

    by hulibow on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:13:41 AM PST

  •  The Big Problem... (8+ / 0-)

    The Republican Party of today is a hodge-podge of factions that are now proving difficult to manage--  tax fundamentalists, gun nuts, abortion crazies, religious zealots, and racists, all of whom have been seduced by the 1% into serving the interests of the economic elites.  It's a particularly toxic blend that isn't just a problem for John Boehner, it's a disaster for the whole country.  

    How can we have a third party when we don't even have a second party?

    by Eagleye on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:13:46 AM PST

  •  Get a bigger whip! (4+ / 0-)

    I'm confused (normal state) - has the TeaParty/GOP thrown out seniority in Committee assignments? If it has, the wingnuts should be candidates for serious whipping; wingnuts only get on committees dealing with paper clips and snow removal in Alaska. Their offices are all in Death Valley. They are not permitted on any TV shows in the nation. They cannot be seen with any sane Republicans. They have no budget. They have no financial support from RNC or any SuperPac that wants access to sane Republicans. (I feel bad giving away good ideas - the total disintegration of the TP/GOP would be good for America.)

    The Soviets may have had Siberia and the gulag; why can't Boehner recreate similar conditions for those who won't do what they're told?(!)

    PS Before you dream blissfully of the rational Senate TP/GOP, remember they voted down the "Disabilities Treaty" with Bob Dole on the floor of the Senate.

  •  Excellent post. (6+ / 0-)

    More Billmon, please.

  •  Most decidedly NOT like the tin man in the WOO... (0+ / 0-)

    ...since the tin man, knowing he didn't have a heart, had to be especially careful not to trod on those smaller than him, or not to hurt anyone.

    The House of Representatives is exactly the opposite, I'd say, no sense at all of what hearts are for, much less careful about the fact that they don't have one.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:20:25 AM PST

  •  The house has no mandate, does not represent US (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    Obama won this election and of course also won the popular vote in the house. It is the partisan redistricting by Republicans that delivered the house against the will of the American People to the GOP. See, OH, PA, VA were all clearly won by Obama but they are sending 70, 75% of all representatives as Republicans to Congress. How can that be? This is a complete failure of our democracy. The house has no mandate at all. It is just because all democratic votes were shuffled into few democratic seats so that despite a total majority of democratic votes there are more Republican seats in the house. Total democracy fail. Unconstitutional. I would demand new elections in states where the number of seats for one party is in strong contrast to the total popular vote of all seats. I am not even comparing to the total vote for president or in Senate races, no the total vote in all congressional seats of one state cannot be in huge violation with the total number of seats. Yes, this includes a few democratic states, but partisan redistricting has to stop.

  •  just like the Tin Man- (0+ / 0-)

    they are in Oz without a heart!

  •  Don't Forget Redistricting (4+ / 0-)

    The ability to create hyper partisan districts has been enhanced by technology.  Prior to 1990, redistricting was literally done by drawing on paper maps and while you could certainly make partisan districts the manual nature of the data meant you operated at a higher level such as towns or zip codes or precincts.

    Today's data capabilities literally allow you to know the partisan make up block by block and allow you to draw the maps in that manner.

    That was a much harder, albeit not impossible, task 20-30 yrs.  As such you have districts that insulate members on both sides of the aisle from opposing views and the threat of competitive general elections.

    Just look at the last election - Dems got over 50% of the House vote but ended up with 45% of the seats.  That can only be done by gerrymandering.  

    •  My neighborhood's gerrymandered for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse

      FL State Lege into the area north of me instead of to the south where it belongs, because I'm near the river. Our state "rep" ran unopposed this year and ran on a 'Legalize Dwarf Tossing Cuz JOBS!' platform last time and won. Clown Car Lege.

      I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
      NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
      Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

      by OleHippieChick on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:40:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  House of Goths (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Midwest Meg

    Would love to see a poster of Boehner as an Edward Scissorhands type, and the rest of the Rethuglican gang as generic emo-goths pouting at the rain. They could have a mammoth in the background as part of their mise-en-scene. Some shell craters. Hanging moss and a Giant Ground Sloth. They have the spirit of dark teenager rebels down perfectly.

    Now for an artist.. hmmmm.

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:38:31 AM PST

  •  so, if I follow you correctly... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coral

    the problem ISN'T excessive partisanship (the media's favorite scapegoat), it is the absence of democratic partisanship which bascially results in authoritarian, one-party rule.

    If we had partisan democracy rather than partisan authoritarianism it would still function, meaning the partisanship isn't the problem, the anti-democratic (small d) tendencies of the GOP are.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:41:55 AM PST

  •  I added the tags democratic centralism, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, Rick B

    Vladimir Lenin and Lenin rule.

    Surprised nobody has commented on that yet.

    Absolutely brilliant comparison of the Lenin rule and the Hastert rule.

    This is one of the best essays I've ever seen here.

  •  Is Nate Silver saying liberal Dems = Tea Party R's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9

    If so, he's being an asshat.

    That seems to be the false equivalency he's engaging in in the linked article.

    Math works easier when you place numbers into finite categories, but the real world operates differently.  To develop an equation that assumes Liberal Dems are as radical and destructive as Tea Party R's is incorrect to say the least.  

    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

    by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:57:09 AM PST

    •  No Nate is not comparing liberals to teabaggers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, coral

      He's just saying that it might be very hard - or impossible - to bring a fiscal bill to the House floor that can attract enough Dem and Rep votes to reach a majority.

      The idea is that anything that even a few Republicans would defy the teabaggers and vote for might still be too reactionary for progressive Dems to accept.

      And anything that progressive Dems would accept would be almost universally opposed by Reoublicans.

      Complete gridlock, in other words.

      I don't think it's quite that bad, but we'll only find out if/when Beohner allows a true compromise bill -- like what the Senate reportedly is cooking up -- to come to the floor.

      •  That's what I was hoping (0+ / 0-)

        and yes, outside of that, I agree with his analysis.  Five or 10 years ago, this kind of behavior was unheard of in Congress.  We should have gotten a clue in 2003 when the GOP began knee capping and arm twisting, holding sessions open for 36 hours or longer, depriving members of sleep, etc.  

        Remember when they rammed the Medicare prescription drug modernization & improvement act through Congress?  That was when they created the prescription drug benefit with the proviso that Medicare never be allowed to negotiate volume discounts w/ pharma companies?

        They were particularly brutal back then, going around the floor threatening GOP'ers to make them change their votes.  They threatened to primary one member and offered a bribe of campaign cash to another.  I think the bill was passed at like 5:30 in the morning.

        If Reid or Pelosi can get this to the floor for a vote in either house, they should make the GOP pull an all nighter.  Keep 'em on the floor all night long, til the sun comes up.

        Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

        by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 12:30:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The 2003 Medicare modernization act (0+ / 0-)

          also created the Medicare Advantage programs as well as Part D of Medicare. The insurance companies were allowed to sell programs that offered more benefits than Medicare, but to do it they locked the beneficiaries into the Advantage program for a year. Medicare paid what it would have cost to operate and administer Part A (Hospitalization) and Part B (Physicians insurance) -- PLUS a 13% bonus to induce insurance companies to risk entering the new market. The drug benefit (Part D) was also wrapped into this.

          The idea of the bonus was that the ability of insurance companies to operate using free market principles in competitive markets would lower the total cost to less than the government paid to operate the programs.

          The insurance companies operate HMO's or PPO's through networks of preferred providers to save money. In other words, all the money supposedly saved is by changing how providers are paid and which ones they permit a beneficiary to go to. They do nothing to lower actual medical costs, they just game the market.

          The insurance companies have had the plans since 2006 and have never been able to match the low cost and flexibility of government operated Medicare, but they still get the bonuses and fight all effort to stop them. That's the big savings Obama promised. Stop paying insurance company administration cost and executive salaries and just let Medicare provide the services at a better cost. No more networks. No more PPO's. See any physician you want.

          The insurance companies also each have their own formulary of prescription drugs they allow payment for. That's the big question on Medicare Advantage. Will they pay for the medications the beneficiary needs? The beneficiary is then locked in for  year, and if the new drugs they need are not on the formulary, tough shit.

          But the insurance company can change the formulary overnight based on simply notifying the beneficiary. No warning, no protection.

          The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

          by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:57:17 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Hmm, Campaign Money Has Exploded Recently. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, Rick B

    The tea party answers to big donors more than to their internal leadership. That's got to be a factor in all this history.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 09:59:46 AM PST

  •  I'd say (0+ / 0-)

    the House and every branch is dysfunctional, and it's not just the GOP that is too blame. They are a village in a bubble awash in money and corruption. At this point their only functions seem to be creating bogus apocalyptic disasters and serving as an ATM for the corporations. They keep taking all the prescribed remedies off the table and resetting it with grand bargains (dirty back room deals) that require we the people, sacrifice our economy, our social services and our basic democratic rights. They hold us all hostage time and time again. The Democrat's sucked at being the loyal opposition to the Bushies and they sucked at being the majority. They must have a mountain of dry powder at this point.  

    The teabaggers are of course totally insane unfit to hold office and yet they wield much more power then the progressive Democrat's. The Democratic leadership seems unable to fight for the people they are supposed to represent. The House congressional progressive caucus is toothless, instead the Dems power rest's with the like of Steny and Nancy. The blue dogs may be declining in numbers but in our party they run the show. There is a gaping disconnect between the Democratic party's electoral machine and getting better Dems. who actually represent and fight for democratic principles or our common good. The party leadership across the board does not support more better Dems. it does not want a liberal agenda their the new Democrat's.  

                         

  •  Gerrymander Reform: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brother Artemis

    Any way to enact a Federal investigation into gerrymandering shenanigans?  California had a citizen's commission enact redistricting.

  •  This is Newt Gingrich's poisonous offspring. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9

    Yes, the post-Watergate reforms facilitated some of what's going on now. But even after Watergate, Republicans and Democrats routlinely collaborated to do the nation's business. It was understood that effective governance had to trump party loyalty at the end of the day.

    Newt Gingrich was the true catalyst here. His tactical effectiveness using slander, grotesque dishonesty and naked partisan purity tests changed the Congressional landscape completely. Hastert/DeLay merely took the resulting lockstep party machinery and placed it at the direct disposal of their corporate masters.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, the Frankenstein's monster stitched together and shocked to life by the odious Gingrich is utterly incapable of competent governance. Yet the structural advantages for lunatic Republican House members locked in by gerrymandering will make it extremely difficult to defuse this smoldering bomb.

    •  That's why it's no surprise that Gingrich was (0+ / 0-)

      likely chairing that now legendary meeting on the night of Obama's inauguration.  The guy has an insatiable appetite for sewerage which he ingests, cuisinarts inside his darkened soul, and spews out as GOP wisdom (sic).

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:30:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Traditional ways of functioning in an organization (0+ / 0-)

      last as long as they work well, and then last after that until the members of the organization who had been socialized into the old ways leave the organization. Since the leaders stay the longest, they usually are the representatives of the old ways of acting.

      That's why a lot of changes don't happen immediately. Our current crop of politicians, for example, represent older sources of power. But society is changing rapidly as all of the increased population move to large urban areas. The conservatives continue to control the rural low population districts and the progressives come from the newer city districts. Each represents the kinds of political power centers who sent him there. Janesville, WI? Population of 68,000 and shrinking? So they get the great Randian Paul Ryan, son of one of the power families there, to represent them.

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:16:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, billmon, for a ~SUPERB~ diary -- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brother Artemis

    -- I learned more from reading this historical and "current NON-events" piece than I will probably learn from all other sources for the rest of the day combined.  :-)

  •  It's election time again! <groan> (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, Rick B, Odysseus

    I know that what I am proposing will incredibly unpopular and loathed, but I believe that progressives and liberals need to realize that the obvious upcoming stalemate in Congress requires gearing up for the 2014 elections now!

    First, we need to revive the 50 State strategy from 2005-06 and make sure that there is a Democratic candidate in all 435 House districts.  And it needs to start happening now. This will ensure that House Republicans know that no district is invulnerable to public opinion and that no Republican House member will get an automatic free pass and every House Republican will face at least a token opponent.  None would be safe to fundraise for their Republican cohorts without first being required to take care of their own House re-election at an increased cost for even those in safe districts.

    Second, the Obama Administration and sitting Senate Democrats who are not up for re-election or are up for re-election in safe seats need to campaign for Democratic House candidates who will assist with helping this country recover and thrive again.  Campaign against the Do-nothing Obstructionist House Republicans!  (Maybe we can call it the ODOHR campaign - Oppose Do-nothing Obstructionist House Republicans.  LOL)  Progressives and liberals would probably have to put grassroots pressure on Senate Democrats and the Obama Administration to put aside their cautious Washington mindsets and join such a campaign.

    By starting such a campaign now, pressure will be on House Republicans throughout this session to look over their shoulders as they engage in obstructive behavior in Congress.  Some may recall that Reagan was able to secure conservative and Southern Democratic votes by agreeing to oppose local Republican candidates in the upcoming elections.  The Republicans in Congress (both houses) are too far gone to the right for that strategy to work for progressives and liberals, so we need to move in an opposite direction for strategy.  And it needs to be done with earnestness so that it is taken seriously by the public and by House (maybe even Senate?) Republicans.

    Let's make Republicans sit up and notice an ODOHR campaign!  LOL

    •  This needs to be implemented (0+ / 0-)

      with an eye on Citizen's United. Just shifting money to implement a 50 state strategy will not be enough. The Obama ground turn-out machine needs to be expanded.

      As a Texan I want that ground machine working here. We didn't see much of it because Texas was a write-off in national politics. But every major city except Fort Worth voted for Obama and voted Democratic.

      Fort Worth is purple. It votes the way the entire state does, and is close to flipping to the Dems. Ground Game, people!!

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:22:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

        Continually writing off Texas is a guarantee that it will stay predominantly red for longer than it should.  Considering that Paul, Armey, and DeLay all hailed from Texas and considering that the state is viewed as an ATM for Republican fundraising, building the Democratic base and making sure that every House District has a Democratic candidate that makes Republicans spend in that District instead of doling it out to other caucus members are both important goals!

  •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coral

    I wonder if one of the ironic solutions to our present mess might be at least a semi-return to the old system of powerful, independent committee chairs.

  •  The Hastert Rule came from the Ohio GOP (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    billmon

    based on the way the Ohio GOP changed its rule of the Ohio General Assembly.   With a GOP governor (Bob Taft) and a GOP controlled GA (brought about by enacting term limits) they began strictly ruling their caucus by limiting legislation that could be brought to the floor for votes.

    The second purpose of these strategies is to control campaign fundraising by legislating in a manner that requires influential stakeholders/funders to channel all of their campaign contributions to the party in control of the legislative agenda.  

    Under this system, the executive and legislative branches coordinate efforts to put maximum pressure on businesses that contract with or are regulated  by government.  Anyone who donates to the opposing party is subjected to loss of contracts and onerous regulation until they funnel all donations to the GOP.

     The campaign contributions are then used to maintain majority status by funding replacements as members of the GA are cycled out through term limits.  Individual GOP candidates are not allowed to raise funds for their own campaigns. Instead, all donations are solicited and controlled by the state party who then uses them to control incumbents.  If a GOP incumbent in the statehouse rebels against the legislative agenda, they are quickly reminded that they will receive no money for re-election from the state party and will be primaried by a well funded replacement.

    It hasn't worked as smoothly for them at the federal level, but it has brought about the goal of stopping government from functioning effectively.

    Democratic Leaders must be very clear they stand with the working class of our country. Democrats must hold the line in demanding that deficit reduction is done fairly -- not on the backs of the elderly, the sick, children and the poor.

    by Betty Pinson on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:22:34 AM PST

    •  So term limits also shifts power (0+ / 0-)

      from the committee chairs to the party hacks. And the Republican conservative party hacks want to remove power from the central government because it interferes with their ability to fleece the public.

      Conservatives want to make work in the Congress/assembly into part time and temporary jobs so that those individuals do not gain sufficient power over time to challenge the 2% in the power they wield.

      The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

      by Rick B on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:27:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Party switching (0+ / 0-)

    Don't overthink this.

    "Moderate" Rs are going to be forced to switch parties by the dynamic that is outlined here.  

    They're being squeezed two ways by the Teahadist wing of their party, and those two pressures both squeeze them  in the same direction, out of the party.  The Teahadists won't let their caucus accept any compromise, any way out of the current interlocking crises and pseudo-crises that the moderates will tolerate.  At the same time, the Teahadists are likely to respond to merely any attempt to persuade the caucus to adopt any reasonable approach -- much less actually winning a majority within the caucus for a sell-out plan -- with Teahadist primary challenges next election.

    Party rigidity, both of voting within the House and of ideological purity at primary time, means expulsion and exclusion.  The moderates can either do the expulsion themselves, turn D and have some prospect of re-election as Ds, or they can let it be done to them and face no prospect of surviving the next primary.

    Not that a crack-up of their party is a foregone conclusion.  The Ds could always buckle, given in and agree to a plan that the Teahadists approve.  The moderate Rs would then be squeezed in the middle, squeezed from opposite ends, with no place to run.  In terms of this posting, that tiny Teahadist minority would have been successful at controlling not just their caucus, not just the House, but the whole country.  Don't put it past the Ds to let that happen, to let themselves be destroyed just to avoid the conflict and general dust-up that would attend the implosion of the other party.

    What makes that outcome less likely is not so much the prospect that Ds will suddenly grow spines, but the factor that has rescued us on several occasions since 2010 from bad grand bargains.  The Teahadists don't actually want any cuts in the govt in particular, as much at they are adamantly and categorically for drastic cuts in theory.  They are not going to be pushing any actual plan for deficit reduction.  They will loudly insist that someone else push such a plan through -- and the nailbiter $64k question at this point is whether the Ds are so spineless that they will do just that in order to avoid conflict.

    The only question is how big the defection will be, and exactly when it will occur.  We may get a few stragglers come over based on purely personal considerations, but the minimum desertion size to expect from a coordinated effort would be at least enough to give the Ds the majority.  A possible indicator of whether such an effort is brewing, would be jockeying over House rules governing the Speakership.  The R leadership will press hard for whoever gets elected at the beginning of the Congress to remain Speaker and in control of the legislative agenda no matter what for the remainder of this Congress.  If Boehner can't get such a rule, he's doomed.  If he doesn't try for it, he's too frightened to try conclusions early.  But lack of a fight over this rule won't guarantee that a coordinated defection won't happen.  The majority could change the rules later on.

    Lay in a store of popcorn.

    The states must be abolished.

    by gtomkins on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 10:30:29 AM PST

  •  It's a feature, not a bug! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse

    Oddly enough, I was just thinking in the last day or so that I had not read anything from Billmon in a while.  Always a great read!  Thanks for still posting occasionally!

    Someone I read regularly, but I am not sure who (perhaps even Billmon?) has argued that the dysfunction, if not necessarily intentional, is certainly a feature and not a bug of the GOP dynamic as it reinforces the notion that government does not work.  See the comment (comments?) above about family members angry over the holidays at Congress for not getting anything done.  Objectively, the gridlock in Congress (both houses) is due to the GOP dynamics internally and in relation to the Dems, and not to some generic notion of partisanship.  Yet the sense in the culture is that those folks in DC just can't get anything done...Government doesn't work!

    If this results from the political strategies within the GOP, so much the better (from their perspective that is).

  •  Gerrymandering (0+ / 0-)

    This article is 9000 words too long in explanation.  

    Here it is in 1 word:

    Gerrymandering.

    Why , would a republican, that has ZERO chance of losing his or her job, unless they get hit with a challenge from a well funded even MORE right leaning opponent, make any attempt to make a deal? Ever. EVER.

    You make a deal, you are in the crosshairs.  The gerrymandering has created districts so safe for these people, that the frankly don't give a shit what he country thinks.  

    It's about their career now, not about he country. The government is now absolutely officially broken.  

  •  And this is why... (0+ / 0-)

    I miss Billmon.  

  •  I have to say, that the so-called (0+ / 0-)

    republican party is today, a group of the most danderous
    ignoramuses to ever come down the pike. And we have been brought this treasonous group courtesy of the "kooks" bros., "rupee" murduck and a few other wealthy but stupid individuals. These rich dimwits who are financing the idiots of the repug party, brightly expressed their lack of useable grey matter during the last election cycle, when grifters like karlita rove took them for hundreds of millions of dollars. You can send those fools to college..., they may collect an obscene amount of earthly goods, but they're still in-bred morons, they are clueless, and dangerous not only to this democracy, but their greed, using bribery and corruption, has destroyed the welfare of millions of people around the world. Greece did not bring the world's economy to its knees, it was american greed that destroyed the wealth and lifestyles of millions around the world. Why oh why have none of these people been brought to the bar of justice?

    The Democrats now own everything from the center right to the far left. the republicans and the filthy robberbarons occupy the extreme right fringe.

    by longtimelurker on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:54:18 PM PST

  •  come Jan 20th, there wil be fewer GOP in (0+ / 0-)

    the house..that might help

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