Paul Ryan

The Destruction Of The Speakership Of The House Of Representatives Under Republican Control Since 1994

The Speaker of the House of Representatives is two heartbeats away from the Presidency, and is the top constitutional officer in the legislative branch of government.

The Speaker is chosen by the majority party in the chamber, and he has responsibilities which include introducing the President of the United States at a State of the Union address, and all other special speakers to a joint session of Congress, including foreign government leaders.  The Speaker has been second in line of succession to the Presidency since the Presidential Succession Act of 1947.

The Speakership has had its major figures historically, including those for whom House Office Buildings are named: Joseph Cannon, Nicholas Longworth, Sam Rayburn, and Thomas “Tip” O’Neill.  It also has had a President, James K. Polk, and two Vice Presidents, Schuyler Colfax and John Nance Garner, as Speakers.  It also had three Presidential nominees, John Bell, James G. Blaine and Henry Clay.

Henry Clay was the greatest single figure in the whole history of Congress, who ran for President three times, including against Polk in 1844.  It also has had Thomas B. Reed, who promoted the growth of the office to its all time greatest authority, continuing under Joseph Cannon.

It also had John McCormack, who played a major role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and much of the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson.  Had there been no 25th Amendment passed in 1967, Carl Albert would have succeeded Richard Nixon when he resigned in 1974.  Were it not for Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be Speaker, there would have been no ObamaCare legislation passed in 2010.

It was a rebellion of progressives in the Republican Party in 1910 , in combination with the minority Democrats, that created a “revolution” in House rules, stripping the Speaker of the absolute control of events that existed under Thomas B. Reed and Joseph Cannon, but still the office has played a major role in American history.

Since the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, after 40 years of being in the minority, and keeping control except for 2007-2011, the Speakership has become an office of disaster and controversy.

First, Newt Gingrich became very confrontational with Bill Clinton, and caused crisis after crisis, until he was forced to resign, with his private scandalous love life being discovered as Bill Clinton faced impeachment for his own scandalous love life.  Bob Livingston was supposed to succeed Gingrich, but his own private scandalous love life prevented that, so Dennis Hastert, a back bencher, became Speaker, lasted longer than any Republican in the position, and avoided most controversy, until now in retirement we have learned of his abuse of male students while a teacher and wrestling coach in high school in the years before he engaged in politics.

John Boehner came into the Speakership under Barack Obama, and faced a Tea Party rebellion, which prevented ability to negotiate, and finally, he lost the confidence of his party, and decided to resign, but his planned successor, Kevin McCarthy, self destructed in the past two weeks, and decided yesterday that he would not run for Speaker, uncertain of support of the Tea Party element.  So now Boehner is back temporarily, and there is a major crisis among House Republicans as to who would be acceptable as an alternative, with Paul Ryan, head of the House Ways and Means Committee and 2012 Vice Presidential nominee, being pressured to take the job, but not wanting to take it.

The Speakership is in crisis, and the Republican Party has done great damage to the position in the past 21 years, and besmirched the historical reputation of the position and of the House of Representatives, and the only way to retrieve it is the hope that, somehow, the Democrats can regain control in 2016, but considered highly unlikely!

Authenticity, Compassion, Experience, Great Debater And Orator: Vice President Joe Biden!

The saga around Vice President Joe Biden continues, as he wrestles with the issue of whether he should run for President in 2016.

Joe Biden has tried to deal with and cope with the death of his beloved son, Beau Biden on May 30, and he has said he cannot, at this point, commit himself to the energy and the “fire in the belly” needed to run for President.

But history tells us that Abraham Lincoln and Calvin Coolidge went on with their responsibilities after losing their sons in their time in office.

Also, Joe Biden is still Vice President, and has duties and responsibilities he meets, despite his mourning of his son.

And, were anything to happen to Barack Obama, Joe Biden is a heartbeat away from the Presidency, and would have to meet his responsibilities despite his son’s death.

What if Joe Biden had decided to enter the race six months ago?  Would he have withdrawn from the race after his son’s passing?  That is hard to imagine.

Particularly now, at a time when Hillary Clinton is losing public support in polls, is the time for Joe Biden to come to the rescue of the Democratic party brand, as his chances of becoming President are far better than Bernie Sanders, who would have great trouble overcoming his “socialist” connection, even though it is no threat in reality.  But ignorant voters might think that Bernie was a “Communist”, sad to say.  So Joe Biden is the best alternative at a time when Hillary seems to be in decline!  So, “run, Joe, run”!

Joe Biden has authenticity, something voters are looking for.  He has compassion, a crucial matter at any time.  He has 44 years experience by 2016, more than ANY political leader or President or candidate in all of American history.  He is a great debater and orator, and proved his debating abilities against Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, and even was said to have done better than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in 2008, although he had no way to overcome their “star” image.

And now, he is not just a young senator as in 1988, or having to compete against a former First Lady and a new Senator who had great public appeal, as in 2008. Instead, he is VICE PRESIDENT Joe Biden, considered the most active and intimately involved in decision making, and yet ready and willing to disagree with the President and keep Barack Obama’s respect and admiration!  He is beloved by millions of Americans who think he can best perpetuate the Obama legacy, while having his own independent mind and goals!

“Speaks Without Notes”; “Has Passion And Joy In Campaigning”; “Speaks His Mind”—Traits Of Donald Trump AND Joe Biden!

It has been pointed out that billionaire Donald Trump “speaks without notes”; “has passion and joy in campaigning”; “speaks his mind”, all traits that most politicians, including Presidential candidates, often do not have.

Well, there is someone else who has the same traits that Trump has, but also has tons of REAL government experience; a record of REAL accomplishments; a true compassion for those NOT wealthy; a sincerity, authenticity, and genuine nature rarely seen in politicians; a person with not a mean bone in  his body; a person who would “give the shirt off his back”; a true man of the people, who has managed to serve longer than any political leader in public office in the entire history of the nation; and has NOT enriched himself in the manner that most politicians do!

In these other traits mentioned in the above paragraph, Donald Trump is entirely different, the diametric opposite of this other person who shares the traits in the first paragraph.

Who am I talking about?  Vice President and former Delaware Senator Joe Biden!

It can be argued that Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton cannot compete in the traits that Donald Trump and Joe Biden share.  Bernie Sanders  may share the traits in the first paragraph, but his connection to the “dirty” word “Socialism” creates many potential complications were Sanders to end up as the Democratic nominee for President, a real “long shot”!

A debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden would be the debate of the century, as Joe Biden would combat the demagoguery of Trump with a strong, rational, but fiery and emotional attack on “Trumpism”.  Biden has already proved how he can make “mince meat” of Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin in Vice Presidential debates.  He proved to be the best debater in the Presidential primaries of 2008, but of course could not overcome the star power of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

But now, coming off the successful and significant Vice Presidency of Joe Biden, he would have the best opportunity to overcome the phenomenon of Donald Trump, and institutionalize the Obama Presidency, and keep the virtues of the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson and the New Deal of Franklin D. Roosevelt!

80 Years Of Social Security And Counting: The Most Successful “Safety Net” Program In American History!

On August 14, 1935 the Social Security Act became law during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York and Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins key figures in promoting its passage.

For the first time, there was the pledge of providing senior citizens with some financial support in their later years.

Additionally, widows and orphans, and the disabled would be covered under the law.

The US was behind Germany, Great Britain, and France, industrialized nations which had enacted such legislation decades earlier.

There was bipartisan support from progressive Republicans and from Democrats, but more conservative Republicans set as their goal to destroy Social Security, as early as the Presidential Election of 1936.

But Social Security has survived eight decades, and has done so much good for the nation, and its most vulnerable citizens.

Even now, there are proposals to change Social Security, as was done in 1983, by a deal between President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, raising the retirement to age 66 and 67 for full benefits, depending on year of birth.

Now there is the call to raise the retirement age further, and cut benefits over the long haul, bitterly opposed by progressives and Democrats. Also, George W. Bush tried to privatize part of Social Security, which failed of enactment in 2005, but again is being promoted by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

The tax base has been raised, but even now, only the first $118,500 is taxed, and many feel there should be no limit on the tax base, as that allows those who make much higher incomes to avoid further taxation, and putting the burden on the average American who does not earn more than $118,500.

The point is that by raising the tax base to unlimited income would insure the long term survival of Social Security.

It is essential to insure that the most successful “Safety Net” program in American history continued to survive and prosper!

Political Campaign Debates’ Impact On American History

Do political campaign debates matter?

Absolutely, and the first such case is Abraham Lincoln Vs. Stephen Douglas in the Illinois Senate race of 1858, which helped elevate Lincoln to the Presidency, although losing the Senate seat due to the Democrats controlling the state legislature, and choosing incumbent Democrat Douglas for the new term of office.

Since Presidential debates came about in 1960, and then revived starting in 1976, there have been moments when they really mattered, even if often boring, including:

1960–Richard Nixon sweating and looking tense, while John F. Kennedy smiled, looked tanned, was relaxed.

1976–Gerald Ford says Poland is a free nation, which helps to elect Jimmy Carter in close race.

1980–Ronald Reagan talks about the “Misery Index” and says “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”, and defeats Jimmy Carter.

1984—Ronald Reagan says he will not use age as an issue to show the “youth and inexperience” of opponent Walter Mondale, who he defeats.

1988—Vice Presidential nominee Lloyd Bentsen tells opponent Dan Quayle that he is not another John F. Kennedy, and sets the image of Quayle for all time as an incompetent Vice President, and have no chance to be President when he decides to run in 1996.

1992—George H. W. Bush looks constantly at his watch, during the debate with Bill Clinton, who defeats him, and also Ross Perot.

2000–Al Gore walks over to George W. Bush as he answers question, comes across as a weird action, and also breathes deeply at Bush responses, making Gore seem haughty and condescending.

2008—Sarah Palin does an embarrassing performance in Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden, harms John McCain campaign.

2012–In Republican Presidential candidate debates, Rick Perry cannot remember the three agencies of government he wishes to eliminate, which ends his candidacy.

2012—Joe Biden laughs at Paul Ryan statements in Vice Presidential debate, weakens Ryan image as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Also, political campaign debates draw attention to the race, and there will be many Presidential debates starting tonight for the Republicans, and in October for the Democrats.

July 30, 1965 To July 30, 2015: 50 Years Of Medicare!

Today is the 50the Anniversary of Medicare, finally brought about by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965.

An idea originally proposed by Theodore Roosevelt in his Progressive (Bull Moose) Party campaign of 1912; further conceptualized by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the mid 1930s, but thought to be moving too rapidly for Congress, when there was the fight over Social Security in 1935; and promoted by Harry Truman in his promotion of his Fair Deal, it was signed into law with former President Truman sitting next to Johnson at the Truman Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri.

Johnson accomplished what John F. Kennedy wanted to fulfill in his New Frontier agenda, but was unable to do because of the opposition of House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Wilbur Mills of Arkansas, but Johnson convinced Mills to move ahead, as part of LBJ’s great “wheeler dealer” abilities to promote his Great Society.

Medicare was a “God send” to millions of senior citizens, who no longer had to go into poverty as a result of medical and health issues, and it made the last years of the elderly a lot less stressful and worrisome.

Of course, the issue of cost overruns and corruption has arisen, and with people living longer, there is a long term problem in Medicare, but careful administration and some tax increases will manage to keep Medicare afloat for the long run, although present House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential running mate in 2012), wants to phase it out over time.

Many Republicans want this, but Democrats will fight tooth and nail to insure the continuation and financial stability of the greatest social program since Social Security, an essential part of the “safety net”, and part of the social justice agenda of liberals and progressives since the time of Theodore Roosevelt!

Former Senator Russ Feingold, In LaFollette Progressive Tradition, Attempting Return To Senate In 2016 Election!

Wisconsin, the home of LaFollette progressivism a century ago, and the home of many progressive leaders since “Fighting Bob” LaFollette became the most prominent progressive in America, has had difficult times recently with the election of Scott Walker as Governor and Ron Johnson as Senator, defeating Senator Russ Feingold, one of the finest public servants ever to grace Wisconsin government and the US Senate, in the 2010 midterm elections.

Between Congressman Paul Ryan being the Vice Presidential nominee for Mitt Romney in the Presidential Election of 2012 and being elevated to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman in 2015; and Governor Walker hoping to be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2016; along with the backward, regressive record of Senator Johnson, Wisconsin has been dealt a terrible hand, and it is time to move to return Wisconsin to its proud progressive tradition!

That can be accomplished by working to prevent Scott Walker from being the GOP Presidential nominee, and by bringing Russ Feingold back to the US Senate, kicking Ron Johnson out!

There is great hope for change, now that Feingold has decided to attempt a return to his Senate seat, which he honored with an outstanding record from 1993-2011!

Feingold can be part of the mission of the Democrats to return to control of the US Senate in the 2016 Congressional elections. He has been one of the most outstanding members of the US Senate in the past two decades, and his defeat was a major blow that helped to undermine any chance of Wisconsin continuing its traditional role as a state which led the nation in so many ways!

An Analysis Of Vice Presidential Selection 1960-2012 Strongly Favors The Democrats Over The Republicans

One can gain a lot of understanding about the two major political parties when one examines the history of Vice Presidential selection by the major party Presidential candidates between 1960 and 2012, a total of 14 national elections.

If one looks at the Democratic Party, it is fact that ALL but one time, the Democratic Presidential nominee chose a sitting United States Senator to be his running mate as follows:

1960–Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas
1964–Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota
1968–Edmund Muskie of Maine
1972–Tom Eagleton of Missouri
1976–Walter Mondale of Minnesota
1980–Walter Mondale of Minnesota
1988–Lloyd Bentsen of Texas
1992–Al Gore of Tennessee
1996–Al Gore of Tennessee
2000-Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
2004–John Edwards of North Carolina
2008–Joe Biden of Delaware
2012–Joe Biden of Delaware

The only exception was 1984, when Walter Mondale selected Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of New York as his Vice Presidential running mate.

Also, after Tom Eagleton dropped out as the Vice Presidential running mate of George McGovern in 1972, due to having been revealed as having had psychiatric treatment, Sergeant Shriver, the former Peace Corps Director, head of the War On Poverty, Ambassador to France, and Kennedy in law, replaced him on the ticket.

All of the ten US Senators who ran for Vice President came to the national ticket as outstanding legislators with solid records of accomplishments, while Ferraro might be considered the weak link, the only real such case, for the Democratic national tickets. The only Senator who, in retrospect, might be considered not an ideal choice would be Edwards, for the personal life scandals that were revealed in later years.

Also, all of these Vice Presidential selections sought the Presidency after being chosen as a VP running mate, and Mondale, Gore, and Biden served notably as Vice President, all adding to the prestige of the office.

On the other hand, the Republicans had a very different scenario, as only four times out of fourteen did they select a United States Senator as their Vice Presidential choice for a national campaign, as follows:

1960—Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts (former Senator 1936-1952)
1976— Bob Dole of Kansas
1988—Dan Quayle of Indiana
1992—Dan Quayle of Indiana

Three times, the Republicans selected state governors as their Vice Presidential nominees, as follows:

1968—Spiro Agnew of Maryland
1972—Spiro Agnew of Maryland
2008—Sarah Palin of Alaska

But most commonly, the Republicans for a total of seven times selected a member or former member of the House of Representatives, as follows:

1964—William E. Miller of New York
1980—George H.W. Bush of Texas
1984—George H. W. Bush of Texas
1996—Jack Kemp of New York
2000—Dick Cheney of Wyoming
2004—Dick Cheney of Wyoming
2012—Paul Ryan of Wisconsin

Out of these 14 cases, it is clear that Quayle, Agnew and Palin, in particular, stand out as horrible choices, and with the nation being burdened with nearly five years of Agnew and four years of Quayle in the Vice Presidency.

At the same time, Miller seems a nonentity who was chosen, and Cheney and Ryan, while competent, both stood out as particularly controversial selections, based on their public record in the past and the future as well.

Only Dole, Bush, and Kemp stand out as noncontroversial choices.

So it is clear that the Democrats have been much wiser in their Vice Presidential choices than the Republicans in the past half century!

Vice President Joe Biden: What Are You Waiting For? Time To Enter The Presidential Race Now!

With the questions arising over the viability of Hillary Clinton, it is time for Vice President Joe Biden, who has desired to be President now for the past 28 years, to put his “hat in the ring”, as Theodore Roosevelt called it when he announced his Presidential candidacy in 1912.

Joe Biden is one of the most colorful, charismatic, dynamic political figures to arise in a long time. He is more experienced than ANY Presidential candidate in the past, having served 36 years in the United States Senate, and eight years as Vice President by the end of 2016, a total of 44 years, unmatched by any President or nominee in American history.

Joe Biden has been at the center of American history since 1972, when he was elected, days before his 30th birthday, and overcame the personal tragedy of the loss of his wife and daughter in a horrific auto crash just weeks after his victory.

Joe Biden was a leading voice in the Senate on all kinds of issues that are important–civil rights, women’s rights, labor rights, the environment, and as Vice President on gay rights and gay marriage. He has also risen to chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate, and despite what Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has said, Joe Biden has been correct on most foreign policy issues, including his suggestion in 2003 that Iraq should be divided into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish sections, so obviously true that Iraq was the false creation that has been a nightmare since after World War I.

Joe Biden is the most genuine, real, authentic person in American politics, and one can feel he is a “regular guy”, a man who was the “poorest” in the Senate, only having his home, his salary and his wife’s salary as a professor as his assets, and truly not being a millionaire many times over, as most members of Congress are.

Yes, Joe Biden has faults and shortcomings, but who does not among us, and particularly among politicians?

Yes, he plagiarized a term paper one time in law school. Yes, he once copied wording of a speech of a British politician. Yes, he acts goofy at times with some of his public utterances, and at times of swearing in of Senators to their new terms of office. And yes, he has been sometimes too “touchy feely” with wives or daughters of other officials, something a bit weird, but he has never been accused or associated with any inappropriate liaisons with other women, and is very dedicated to his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who has been a great Second Lady! He has never been accused of drunkenness or illegal drug use.

But he is so engaging and charming even when he blunders. Joe Biden does not have an evil bone in his body, and has never been personally nasty to anyone, and is even well liked by Republican opposition leaders, who feel they can work with him even when they seem to detest President Obama.

Joe Biden has been a very loyal and active Vice President, who has added to the office tremendously, and been invaluable in his advice , and he is a great emissary to Capitol Hill, a kinder, gentler version of Lyndon B. Johnson. He has been a tremendous asset to the President and the nation over the past six years, and has restored the dignity of the Vice Presidency after the decline in reputation and likability and trust and respect under the previous Vice President, Dick Cheney.

Joe Biden would bring excitement to the race with his oratory, and would know how to give the Republican Party “hell”, as Harry Truman did seven decades ago. And yet, he would still gain the respect of his opponents which he still has today in 2015 after 42 plus years in American politics, and how many other public figures can say that? And he made mincemeat of Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan in debates for the Vice Presidency in 2008 and 2012, and was one of the best debaters in the 2008 Democratic Party primary debates.

Yes, Joe Biden will be 74 right after Election Day in 2016, but Ronald Reagan was older in his second term, and there is no age limit in the Presidency constitutionally, and many of the other potential candidates will be around the same age, or in their 70s during the next Presidential term. Age is just a number, particularly, with someone as energetic and engaged as Joe Biden is.

If Joe Biden was our 45th President, America would be better for it, and Joe Biden would do his best in dedicating very minute of his time and every bone in his body to the advancement of America to a better position both in domestic policy and in foreign relations.

Marco Rubio And Rand Paul, The Presidency, And Their Senate Seats

Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky are both seriously considering running for the Presidency, but they both face the quandary that if they so decide, they must forfeit running for reelection to the Senate in 2016. State laws in Florida and Kentucky prevent them running for both jobs at the same time.

This was not the case in other Presidential elections, as shown by:

Lyndon B. Johnson running for Vice President in 1960 while running for reelection to the Senate in Texas.

Lloyd Bentsen running for Vice President in 1988 while running for reelection to the Senate in Texas.

Joe Lieberman running for Vice President in 2000 while running for reelection to the Senate in Connecticut.

Paul Ryan running for Vice President in 2012 while running for reelection to the House Of Representatives in Wisconsin.

All four were elected to their Congressional seats, with only Johnson vacating it to become Vice President.

But notice that in all four of these cases, the position they were running for was Vice President, not President.

So both Rubio and Paul face a difficult situation, and one would advise that they think long and hard about giving up their Senate seats, even though both seem, clearly, too ambitious to be President, and do not seem to love their Senate positions, as simply too restrictive for their egos!