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Jonathan Bernstein at The Washington Post previews the 113th Congress:
[I]nstead of a relatively conciliatory Republican Senate, we have a newly revitalized Democratic Senate. We can expect a far more energetic liberal wing, with several new liberal Senators (Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, and more) and other liberals gaining seniority. These active Senators will have a strong interest in getting bills passed, which may make them more effective in seeking areas of common interest even with conservative Republicans.

What about the House? The rejectionist caucus gets a little smaller this year. But that group of a dozen to sixty House Republicans has never really been the issue; it’s the hundred or more mainstream conservatives who aren’t nuts but are terrified of allowing any daylight between themselves and whatever Michele Bachmann or Louis Gohmert or Rush Limbaugh or Grover Norquist sets as the “conservative” party line that constitute the real problem.

Joshua Green at Businessweek runs down the reasons why John Boehner's opposition failed to unseat him from his position as Speaker:
Final step: Pulling it off. Here’s where things went truly, hilariously awry. Any good coup depends on stealth. But on Thursday, an enterprising Politico photographer snapped Rep. Tim Huelskamp sitting in open session reading from his iPad — not making this up — the entire roster of the plot against Boehner. Just so there was no mistaking that he was up to no good, the document was entitled “YOU WOULD BE FIRED IF THIS GOES OUT.” Not making that up either.

Worse still, half the roster on Huelskamp’s iPad lost their nerve and bailed out. In the end, only nine Republicans broke ranks. Three cast votes for Cantor (who was visibly disgusted), two for recently ousted Rep. Allen West, and one for a former U.S. comptroller general. Several of the plotters even voted for each other. Boehner was reelected Speaker.

Republican Rep. Trent Franks probably put it best when he described the coup as “a ridiculous miscalculation on the part of a sincere, but completely inept” group of colleagues. All in all, a tough loss. Presumably, the plotters have gained a newfound appreciation for Boehner’s skills and how difficult it is to wrangle votes.

Hapless as the Tea Party was, they still succeeded in bringing a the GOP civil war out to the public again.

The new Congress will take up the aftermath of the "fiscal cliff" bill. Eugene Robinson at The Washington Post takes a look at what the bill means going forward:

The bogus “fiscal cliff” — and please, let’s never, ever use those words again — was designed as a doomsday mechanism to force Congress and the president to make tough decisions. But resistance to the very concept of decision-making was so fierce that our leaders could manage only to avoid hurtling to their doom, and ours, by deciding not to decide much of anything.

Obama “won” this bloody and unnecessary battle, but what did he really gain, aside from bragging rights for the next few weeks? More important, what, if anything, did the nation gain? Practically zilch, except a reprieve from hardships that its elected leaders were bizarrely threatening to impose on the citizens who elected them.

Bill Press at the Chicago Tribune says the while the deal hurt Republicans much more than Democrats, it's citizens who lost in the end:
The current agreement expires on March 31. And in none of these three upcoming battles will President Obama have the same strong leverage he enjoyed this week with scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

Careening from one fiscal crisis to another? Surely, conservatives and liberals must agree, this is no way for Congress to govern. If anybody tried to run a business this way, they'd be fired.

Also, don't miss Richard Cowan and Thomas Ferraro's piece at Reuters on how smiles turned to "distrust to rancor" in the "fiscal cliff" deal.

Finally, Paul Krugman:

According to the normal rules of politics, Republicans should have very little bargaining power at this point. With Democrats holding the White House and the Senate, the G.O.P. can’t pass legislation; and since the biggest progressive policy priority of recent years, health reform, is already law, Republicans wouldn’t seem to have many bargaining chips. But the G.O.P. retains the power to destroy, in particular by refusing to raise the debt limit — which could cause a financial crisis. And Republicans have made it clear that they plan to use their destructive power to extract major policy concessions.

Now, the president has said that he won’t negotiate on that basis, and rightly so. Threatening to hurt tens of millions of innocent victims unless you get your way — which is what the G.O.P. strategy boils down to — shouldn’t be treated as a legitimate political tactic.

But will Mr. Obama stick to his anti-blackmail position as the moment of truth approaches? He blinked during the 2011 debt limit confrontation. And the last few days of the fiscal cliff negotiations were also marked by a clear unwillingness on his part to let the deadline expire. Since the consequences of a missed deadline on the debt limit would potentially be much worse, this bodes ill for administration resolve in the clinch.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Our clown-around Congress (5+ / 0-)

    I examine Eugene Robinson's Washington Post column of that title in this post to which I invite your attention

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:35:40 AM PST

    •  McTurtle and Boner erecting a new barricade (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Egalitare

      around the debt ceiling.......WSJ: If you take hostages, you'd better be ready to shoot them (terrible metaphor...but there it is)

      •  Okay: let's play "what if" (0+ / 0-)

        What if POTUS invokes the 14th Amendment or "goes Platinum?" What is the likely impact on that "hostage"?

        When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

        by Egalitare on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:04:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If the GOP play that card....they should have a (0+ / 0-)

          plan in place to address the fallout......They got nothin.

          •  Just as intriguing: what the rating agencies do (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Heart of the Rockies

            Do they call "bullshit" and uniformly downgrade our credit rating anyway, or do they quietly accept it as "the least bad option?"

            When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

            by Egalitare on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:50:23 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Even more intriguing, (4+ / 0-)

              what will lobbyists for the FIRE sector do?  Will they start threatening to withhold campaign funds from House members who refuse to raise the debt ceiling?  Will bondholders start moving their money out of treasuries if it looks like congressional loonies are really willing to let the country default?  Will the president finally explain to the public exactly how they personally will be affected if the treasury can't pay interest on the debt?  After all, the bulk of treasury bonds are owned by government agencies like Social Security, institutions like retirement plans (i.e., public employee and private insurance plans) and U.S. citizens?

              Most people in this country believe China - or at least foreign countries - own most of this country's debt (and the Republicans in congress have been more than willing to push this belief).  The truth is, foreign countries own only about 1/4th of our debt; the overwhelming majority of our debt is owned by us.  In taking the debt hostage, the radicals in congress would, for the most part, be threatening to shoot ourselves.

              "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

              by SueDe on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:27:55 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Who were (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda

    the nine Republicans who broke ranks and voted against  Boehner?

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:41:49 AM PST

    •  The List (17+ / 0-)

      From Aaron Blake:

      Below is a look at the defectors, whom they voted for, and our best guess as to why it wasn’t Boehner:

      Rep. Eric Cantor (3 votes)
      Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) — conservative freshman who defeated Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) in a primary
      Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) — very conservative
      Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) — conservative freshman who defeated Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) in a primary

      Former congressman Allen West (2)
      Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) — noted conservative maverick, Club for Growth favorite
      Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) — outspoken conservative

      Rep. Raul Labrador (1)
      Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) — libertarian ally of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), recently stripped of committee assignments by House GOP leadership

      Rep. Jim Jordan (1)
      Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) — very conservative, recently stripped of committee assignments

      Former comptroller general David Walker (1)
      Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) — frequently votes against his party, recently stripped of committee assignments

      Amash (1)
      Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky.) — freshman conservative, favorite of the Club for Growth

      Voting present (1)
      Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Tex.) — has criticized Boehner for “being too harsh with conservatives“

      Not voting (3)
      Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) — conservative, frequent critic of Boehner
      Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) — critic of Boehner’s “Plan B” maneuver on the “fiscal cliff”
      Boehner — speaker traditionally does not vote for himself or herself

      •  Thanks! eom (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Heart of the Rockies

        Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

        by DRo on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:50:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  thanks (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, tb mare, Heart of the Rockies

        maybe you should post list as diary, with little commentary explaining how much you admire these fine noble patriots (okay, forget last part.. just being an asshole)
        thanks for list
        m

      •  Still can't believe Stockman's back in Congress (0+ / 0-)

        Talk about a bad penny.

        But with the exception of Jones (a noted maverick), these are all teabaggers and similar nutter-types. So it's a good indication of the type of resistance the Drunk Weepy Oompa-Loompa will get going forward.

      •  also Colin Powell (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DRo, msmacgyver, Heart of the Rockies
        The U.S. Constitution puts no limits on who can be a candidate for speaker of the House, so Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville, decided he wouldn’t, either, when the race for that job took place Thursday during the opening of the 113th Congress.

        Cooper cast his vote not for Nancy Pelosi, as some might have expected, but for Colin Powell, 75, who was the first African-American to serve as secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

      •  I'd like to know who chickened out. (0+ / 0-)

        "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand." ~ Atticus Finch, "To Kill a Mockingbird"

        by SottoVoce on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 06:39:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  In that may be the only hope for progress in this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JG in MD

        Congress.

        These fundamentalist groups, in churches and politics, have a tendency to splinter under pressure. I used to laugh when one of those churchs split over some doctrinal mouse and then the factions split into "new storefront churches" over a doctrinal ant. These political fundies are not that different.

        There is possibly a majority of the House that can be put the country ahead of politics. There is not a majority of the TP/GOP that can under the "Hastert rule." Whether the weak Speaker will do it or it can be accomplished by other means that House majority needs to emerge.

        A real push by Democrats across the board can probably force that split. My main reservation is that Obama has shown a characteristic of presidents originating from legislatures and academia in being far too invested in reason and negotiation to deal with insanity on the other side. Those with long, effective executive or military backgrounds have tended to be more willing to shift from negotiation to outright pressure in order to fracture such blocs and pressure individuals.

        The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

        by pelagicray on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:24:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Boehner (0+ / 0-)

        did vote for himself in the end. Kind of embarrassing for him but he was re-elected.

        Republicans...think the American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it. Harry S. Truman

        by fenway49 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:57:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Please consider the following (0+ / 0-)

    contains some thoughts on guns, mental illness, and more in this post from yesterday to which I invite your attention

    peace

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:42:18 AM PST

  •  Bernstein (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare

    has got right. When the sane conservatives (I'm assuming some are left) rise up and take their party back, then maybe real governing can return. Its a good sign that King and Christie have named names, but more need to follow.

    Stranger things have happened, right?

    Victory is sweet-November 6, 2012

    by al23 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:43:42 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the roundup, Georgia (5+ / 0-)

    I like the photo of different headlines.  Wonder if we should all write to the President and remind him that he won?  He doesn't have to cave to the troglodytes.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:44:11 AM PST

    •  Probably. Remember his last speech was in (0+ / 0-)

      front of you.  Millions (or one) letters of support would probably be just the ticket.

      •  Keep in mind that hand-written letters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        88kathy

        are given more weight in D.C. than emails, particularly for House Republicans receiving letters from their districts and Senate Republicans receiving letters from their states.  Even the White House gives more attention to hand-written letters than emails.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 06:31:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Unfortunately those are not even "snails" now. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          88kathy, SueDe

          More like "glacial" and it has become a problem for democracy. Post 9/11 panic and frenzy "snail mail" has to go through a long process of inspection and is blasted with radiation (the anthrax scare) before delivery. Count on weeks before anyone sees such a note. The most attention getting today is perhaps reserved for the deep pockets; that old telegram in new form that is very expensive. In any case, unless you  are a person that can vote for them or contribute significant funding they usually are not at all interested in your opinion.

          E-mails and electronic petitions* are not much more effective than spam is with most of us. Web mail through the official pages of members to specific gets some respect, but note that House members require a full zip to filter out random notes from outside their CD.

          It is unfortunate, and a sign of the times, that effective communication with Congress seems to be directly proportional to the expense and difficulty involved in communicating. As Hobnob.blog puts it, the more effort (or cost) required the more attention a communication is likely to get.

          * Those petitions usually generate nothing except vast amounts of e-mail from the interest groups sponsoring the petition.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:10:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The data are in...the 112th Congress was the worst (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JaxDem

    congress in the history of mankind.....and it's all Obama's fault.

  •  Girl Scouts in the House (and Senate) (7+ / 0-)

    link

    The chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of the USA was all too pleased to give props Wednesday to the record 20 women who are now members of the U.S. Senate: Fourteen of them, or 70 percent, are former Girl Scouts.

    “I am so proud of our alumnae today, and look forward to the great things the will accomplish as national leaders and role models in the United States Senate,” Anna Maria Chavez, said in a statement on the organization’s Web site.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:46:34 AM PST

  •  Bernstein is right about the dynamic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Iberian, JML9999

    Of the 233 members of the House GOP Caucus, less than a quarter are actual TEA Party Caucus members. Another 50 are non-members but very comfortable with their agenda. An additional 75-100 live in fear of committing TEA-defined heresy with any single vote or statement.

    So what's up with the remainder? Up until New Year's Day they were boxed in by the Hastert Doctrine, which is technically at the Speaker's discretion. But this Speaker really doesn't have that discretion, does he?

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 04:47:57 AM PST

    •  Unintentionally, though, you're making another (0+ / 0-)

      point.  

      "Less than a quarter" of 233 is, let's say, 55 hard-core teabaggers.  "Another 50" strong sympathizers makes 105.  And the fearful additional 75-100 raises the number of Repubs completely dominated by the Tea Party possibly as high as 205.  Thus the remainder of members who aren't generally inclined to vote like teabaggers could be as low as 28.  This is fewer than one in eight.  

    •  Yes, he does. (0+ / 0-)

      Like the Majority Leader in the Senate, the Speaker of the House gets to decide whether to bring a bill to the floor for a vote.  Unlike Majority Leader Reid, who will bring a bill to the floor of the Senate if it stands a chance of passing, even if passing it means a majority of Democrats will vote against it, Boehner refuses to bring a bill to the House floor unless a majority of House Republicans will support it.  Until the "fiscal cliff" bill, he refused to hold a vote on any bill that required the votes of Democrats to get it passed.

      That's why so many garbage bills were passed in the House only to be ignored by the Senate.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:41:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Because I'm confident that any future GOP (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, SueDe, msmacgyver, JG in MD

    administrations will deal with the eunuch congress by taking all possible power to the Executive branch, I hope Obama will do it now by invoking the powers of the 14th Amendment and sidestepping the Rube Goldberg contraption that was once a governing body.  Let them be outraged the way we were under Cheney/Bush.  Obama can move on into history as the President who got things done and knew how to govern.  Checks and balances disappeared in 2000.

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

    by judyms9 on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:05:57 AM PST

  •  I'd like Krugman a lot more... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, tb mare, JG in MD

    ...if he'd actually wrap up one of his many fretful columns by suggesting a positive course of action for the President.  

    But then, he doesn't have the responsibility of actually having to govern with a pack of nihilistic two year olds chained to his wrist.

    "Nonsense!" said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.

    by RIposte on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:09:06 AM PST

    •  Well (4+ / 0-)

      In this case he says the WH won this battle but can loose the war if the president doesn't hold tough about the debt ceiling. Very clear. THe options have been named many times. I like the 14th amendment solution. Let the time expire and then say you were forced to do it. But the WH has preemptively said they are not using it. I don;t get it, even if they thought it was not a good way way not keep it open as a looming option?

      •  Well, yeah (0+ / 0-)
        In this case he says the WH won this battle but can loose the war if the president doesn't hold tough about the debt ceiling.Very clear.
        Yeah, he's very clear in saying that the President shouldn't cave.  Is he advocating the 14th, and looking at why the administration might (at least publicly) take it off the table?  What does he think of the trillion dollar coin?  Is he willing to go on the record and own that option?  Haven't seen it yet.

        Brilliant economist, great moral center.  As a politician, though, he sometimes sounds like a Nobel-winning, tenured professor of Economics.

        "Nonsense!" said Alice, very loudly and decidedly, and the Queen was silent.

        by RIposte on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:26:01 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because it's not constitutional (0+ / 0-)

        Not what the language envisioned.  Would violate separation of powers, while also possibly setting a terrible precedent.  And would not hold up in court.

        Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary

        by Paleo on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:39:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  He has (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Heart of the Rockies

      On many occasions.

      Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary

      by Paleo on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:37:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sideline the House (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, tb mare, cybersaur, JG in MD

    The President of the United States now has full justification to use whatever means and measures at his disposal to bypass the toxicity and demagoguery of the Republican House in order to keep the government and the country functioning. The GOP has abdicated their role in lawmaking by fleeing from any sense of responsibility or reasonable action in their time as majority in the House. Now with an even more serious deadline approaching that again threatens to push the country into virtual anarchy, conservatives ought to have no position in any negotiations and should be sidelines as much as the Constitution allows.  -  progressive

  •  this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, tb mare, Heart of the Rockies
    Gun Control, School Safety, Mental Illness Focus of New State Panel

    In response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Connecticut is convening a panel of experts to explore all necessary facets of trying to prevent future tragedies.

    http://newtown.patch.com/...

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:34:01 AM PST

  •  155,000 job gains in December, 7.8% rate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OLinda, tb mare

    Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary

    by Paleo on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 05:36:46 AM PST

  •  The divided baby (3+ / 0-)

    Everyone remembers Solomon and the divided baby, and how he awarded the baby to the mother who would give the baby up rather than see it cut in half.  Unfortunately Obama is in the good mother's position.  

  •  It's worse than that ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies, JG in MD
    And the last few days of the fiscal cliff negotiations were also marked by a clear unwillingness on his part to let the deadline expire. Since the consequences of a missed deadline on the debt limit would potentially be much worse, this bodes ill for administration resolve in the clinch.
    If that were the only example of Obama caving in the face of Repub resolve, there would be some hope.  But his consistent response is to fold.  This time will be no different.  The repubs have his number and it's paper tiger "squeak toy."

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 06:28:41 AM PST

  •  I wish, I wish, I wish (0+ / 0-)

    we could follow all the corporate lobbyists around with a camera and microphone.
    I wish someone was always in their faces, making them well known to the the American public.
    I wish the National Enquirer and Globe were following them around like a mambo snake, or that bushmaster snake- whichever of those that follow people for miles, making their names as popular as the Cardashians.
    I wish that every time someone in the media interviews a legislator or the president they lead off with, "What do the corporations want to do about..........." or "Would you be asking Haliburton of Blankfein or (fill in blank) for permission to............" etc.,etc.

    This "Trickle Down" thing has turned out to be somebody pissing on my leg and tellin' me it's rainin'.

    by swtexas on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 07:11:55 AM PST

  •  And that's why Obama wanted to make a deal with... (0+ / 0-)

    the previous Congress...

    We can expect a far more energetic liberal wing, with several new liberal Senators (Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, and more) and other liberals gaining seniority.
  •  Default would endanger national security (0+ / 0-)

    Seems to me that the debt limit in one way or another is a matter of national security. Can't he raise the debt limit under some uber-power he inherited from GWB?

    I suddenly started a blog. http://jglookups.blogspot.com/.

    by JG in MD on Fri Jan 04, 2013 at 11:19:50 AM PST

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