We’re Doomed

boehner

I’ll admit that I’ve become rather numb when it comes to House Republicans saying crazy things, but this comment from Louisiana Congressman John Fleming, as reported in the New York Times, is jaw-dropping:

“Obamacare is the most dangerous piece of legislation ever passed in Congress,” said Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana. “It is the most existential threat to our economy” that the country has seen “since the Great Depression, so I think a little bit of additional deficit is nothing,” he added.

I’m honestly not sure how Congress is going to come to avoid a shutdown — much less raise the debt ceiling — when this kind of thinking holds sway over a significant minority of the House GOP. One possibility is for John Boehner to work with a de facto new majority of House Democrats and relatively moderate Republicans, but that would almost certainly result in his being ousted as Speaker. The recent news that Boehner’s thinking of retiring soon may render that threat toothless. I certainly hope so. Otherwise Boehner will have to choose between the greater good and his own career, and as a rule of thumb, human beings tend, when pushed, to opt for the latter.

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27 thoughts on “We’re Doomed

  1. On the bright side, Peter Beinart thinks we our political generation (I think we are roughly of the same political generation) are going to be a new left and most of us are rejecting the Republican Party because of statements like the one you highlighted:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/09/12/the-rise-of-the-new-new-left.html

    On the not so bright side, things are probably going to get worse before they get better. It takes a long time for political generations to come to power. There are still a lot of relatively young Republicans like Paul Ryan, Ted Cruz and Bobby Jindal who potentially have decades of career left and they are full-fledged believers in the Reagan Revolution. Beinart thinks people in their 20s and early to mid-30s are too young to have embraced Reagan like Ryan.

    I admit that I have the problem of having spent most of my life in super-Democratic areas. I grew up in a bluer than blue congressional district. Part of said congressional district was in super-blue NYC (I grew up just outside the Nassau-Queens border, most of this district was in Queens. The district was largely African-American, Jewish, and Asian). I went to a bluer-than-blue college, and then spent time in NYC and now live in SF. There could be a lot of people my age who are Republicans but I don’t know them. I can think of four or five people (out of hundreds) from my facebook feed who posted pro-Romney stuff in 2012.

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  2. I’m relatively sanguine about a shutdown to be honest. The pattern is we run right up to the brink of a shut down or right into one and then the GOP moderates panick and force leadership to resolve it by compromising. Obama knows how to handle this contingency pretty well, just play it out of Clinton’s handbook.

    I’m slightly more worried about the debt ceiling. Obama started this particular idiocy by trying to compromise on the debt ceiling negotiating back when the GOP first held it hostage and that let the notion out of the bottle that they could try and extort quid pro quos for simply agreeing to pay the bills the government has already incurred. Obama has since corrected himself and is sticking to the “no we won’t negotiate, raise the ceiling.” Line that is the correct answer but I fear it goes against his compromiser grain. As long as he sticks to it to the bitter end business interests should frog march the GOP to raising the ceiling in the end but it’ll be a scary prospect right until they break. I hope Obama maintains the steel necessary to see it out.

    And yes, if the weeper is planning on retiring to lobbying then we’ll finally be able to get something done. Maybe the budget, the debt ceiling and even immigration reform could get a vote?

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  3. It ain’t even the most dangerous legislation passed during the fishin’ Obama Administration*! Geez, Fleming loves hyperbole…

    (* – the NDAA that legalized indefinite military detention without charge would be it.)

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  4. Once people live a little bit without and all presence gov’t prescense, maybe they will wake up and realize we can get by with much less of it.

    Doesn’t the NSA get shut down too? (hopes)

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    • Damon –

      The “little bit of additional deficit” Fleming is willing to accept in order to damage Obamacare in the quote referenced above is increases in spending for Defense (!) and the VA. So, no, the less government people (and by “people” I mean only those people who don’t have powerful lobbies in Washington) will be getting by with much less of will not include any part of the security/military apparatus.

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      • Lee
        Yep, not many folks share my outlook. More’s the pity. But I got a chuckle out of your comment “and by “people” I mean only those people who don’t have powerful lobbies in Washington) will be getting by with much less ” that’s the way it always is.

        No one with power and influence is actually going to get their ox gored. So really, this really isn’t news.

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  5. Call it crazy, but it sure is working.

    With the Continuing Resolution battle, the most likely outcome would be a deal averting a government shutdown in exchange for sustaining sequestration levels of government spending through the end of the year.

    When the debt limit fight comes along, North is likely right that Obama will be able to avoid giving up more, as business interests won’t allow the Republicans to force the Treasury to default, but I don’t see him able to gain anything either.

    These politicos pay no price for being crazy. As polls indicate, the public may blame the GOP for all the governmental dysfunction and further erode the party’s <20% approval rating, but none of that will prevent these folks from retaining their seats in their heavily gerrymandered districts. The crazy actually helps. And if everyone's convinced the crazy guy holding the grenade is actually willing (maybe even eager) to pull the pin and let it all go boom, then guess where the concessions are going to come from.

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    • Obama shouldn’t (and correctly isn’t seeking to) “gain anything” from the debt ceiling negotiations. They should not be a negotiable thing at all. Passing them should be considered a non-optional part of regular government business. IIRC the US is the only country in the developed world that has this ass backwards debt ceiling nonsense.

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      • I’m with you on the whole non-negotiable thing, North. The debate should occur prior to passing the legislation that incurs the costs. But that would entail Republicans going on the record with specific programs that they would cut that would add up to spending in line with the revenue levels they hold dear. I give you the Transportation and HUD funding bills from back in July…
        It turns out that when you draft bills enumerating all the specific cuts required to comply with the (Ryan) budget’s parameters, they don’t come anywhere close to having enough political support to pass. Even in the GOP House. Slash community development block grants by 50 percent, and you don’t just lose the Democrats, you lose a lot of Republicans who care about their districts.

        So instead of a debate about what government should and shouldn’t do, you get these fights against Spending as an abstraction. And, as I say, it’s working. These so-called crazy people are getting what more of what they want than they are giving up.

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      • NotMe: Your political memory is extremely selective. Obama did indeed vote against the debt ceiling increase when Bush was Pres. As long as there has been a debt ceiling limit the party out of power (whether it was GOP or Dem) would inveigle against it and vote against it as the party in power in each body passed it as a matter of course. That is and was normal politics.

        What is new is a party that is in power in a given body seriously proposing to actually prevent passage of the debt ceiling increase and trying to extract political concessions (note: HUGE political concessions) for it. Note also that the GOP in the house is not just voting against the increase, they’re literally not scheduling a vote for it because they know that with a handful of adult GOP votes and Dem support it’d pass.

        This bears absolutely zero resemblance to Obama’s no votes on debt ceiling increases in the past what so ever.

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      • North:

        Sorry, I don’t see what Obama’s hypocrisy has to do with anything the Repubs are doing. He was the one that voted against the debt ceiling then and he is the one that insists that it must be raised now. It seems like an excuse to conflate the two.

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      • Notme,
        I have every confidence that you are bright enough to see the glaring difference between what Obama did: voting nay for posturing purposes on a debt ceiling increase he knew for a fact was going to be raised and what the GOP is doing now: threatening to vote nay on a debt ceiling increase and flat out causing that increase to not happen (with its accompanying host of economic disasters) unless they can extract massive policy concessions from their opponents.

        The former is utterly unlike the latter even though in strictly technical and legal terms both Obama and the GOP (individually) are doing the same act: voting nay on a debt ceiling increase bill.

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      • I’m not sure that I see this difference. You’re saying that Obama’s nay vote was different because he knew that there were not enough other nay votes to stop the debt limit from being raised under the Bush administration and he saw an opportunity to get a couple of jabs in at a political opponent. Fair enough. All’s fair…

        However, what if there had been enough votes to stop the debt limit from being raised in 2006? Are you saying that Obama would have suddenly stopped grandstanding and changed his vote to yes? How can we know whether he would or would not have?

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      • jr,
        Ask the whip?
        In all seriousness, I know someone who has talked
        with Obama. The Obama he describes would never
        have been that bull-headed. (In Short, the Powers
        That Be would have talked him out of it)

        His intentions matter less than his reasonableness,
        in understanding whether he’d change his vote.

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      • A good question JR; the answer is history. Up until the GOP changed their collective tune in 2011 what I am describing happening had always happened. The minority party in each house inveigled against the debt being raised; everyone who could vote against it without actually causing it to fail pretty much did and the debt limit would pass from house to Senate to the President. That was the normal business. Obama doing what he did (voting nay when his nay vote had no prospect of preventing the passage of the bill) was standard. He was part of the senate minority party at that time; voting nay on the debt limit secure in the knowledge that it’d pass was what the senate minority party (regardless of what party that was) always did when the debt limit came around.

        Let us be clear on how hugely the congressional GOP have departed from the norm. They are not just voting “no” on the debt ceiling raising bill as the majority party; they are actively –not- bringing a debt limit bill to the House floor using their power as leadership. If such a bill came to the floor a majority of congressional votes (the Democratic minority votes plus a handful of GOP votes) would pass the limit increase. There is zero resemblance to what Obama did or voted in his time as a Senator to anyone with a basic understanding of the matter. Charges of hypocrisy or flip flopping is just a repetition of talking points designed to confuse low information or uninformed voters.

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      • the glaring difference between what Obama did: voting nay for posturing purposes on a debt ceiling increase he knew for a fact was going to be raised and what the GOP is doing now: threatening to vote nay on a debt ceiling increase and flat out causing that increase to not happen (with its accompanying host of economic disasters) unless they can extract massive policy concessions from their opponents.

        You mean the difference between symbolic posturing and taking a principled stand?

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      • I’d grant that what Obama did was posturing, but I don’t agree that “principled stand” properly describes what the GOP is doing with the debt limit. Nihilistic actions don’t get to claim that mantle.

        You want to take a stand on principle? Do it during the appropriations process. The cut to SNAP announced today? That was a principled stand.

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  7. Stop to imagine for just a minute an election for congressmen that wasn’t based on Gerrymandered congressional districts. Where a more normal (politically neutral) constituency was typical. Extremists of either party would have less influence and special interests would find less value in “primary-ing” a sitting congrressman with an extremist candidate who was unelectable in the general election.

    Fix the cause not the symptom.

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