Fiscal Cliff

Will Speaker Of The House John Boehner Be A “Profile In Courage” On Immigration Reform?

Speaker of the House John Boehner has a job that no one in their right mind would envy–being leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives, when the Tea Party Movement has taken over a good portion of the Republican caucus, and is out to destroy any possibility of any Congressional action on just about anything, unless it fits their extremist right wing philosophy!..

Boehner has been heavily criticized on all political fronts of the left and the right, of the Democrats and Republicans, for trying to maintain some semblance of order, decorum, and discipline in the House.

Boehner is not exactly a likeable character, but one can sympathize with the burden he carries, and he has shown willingness four times this year to move legislation that does NOT have a majority of his party willing to back by their votes.

Boehner has pushed legislation with a minority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats in the following circumstances:

Passage of the “fiscal cliff” legislation in January of this year.

Hurricane Sandy relief vote in January.

Extension of the Violence Against Women Act vote in February.

Federal acquisition of historic sites vote in April.

Now Boehner has the most challenging situation, whether to allow an immigration reform vote, when the majority of his House majority will be bitterly against it, while Boehner has been supportive of immigration reform in his past career as a Congressman from Cincinnati, Ohio.

California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher has threatened to call for a vote to unseat Boehner as House Speaker if he calls for such a vote.

So Boehner has to decide to gamble his Speakership on this matter–choosing between his own career, and doing the right thing, something which would revive Republican fortunes with the growing Hispanic-Latino community in America, and also just doing what is fair and just for eleven million people, many born here, and others coming only for economic betterment, not to commit crimes, which only a miniscule number have engaged in over the years!

Is the Speakership that important? Does not John Boehner secretly wish he could give up the burden, which has become a nightmare with the lunatic Congressmen and some Senators of his party who have set out to destroy the historical reputation of the party of Lincoln, TR, and Ike?

The conclusion of the author is that Boehner will allow a vote, and immigration reform will pass the House, if a large majority of the Senate, including Republicans, pass a bill.

And if that happens, and even if Boehner loses his Speakership, we will be able to add Boehner to the list of people who have been a “Profile in Courage”, as John F. Kennedy termed it in his Pulitzer Prize winning book in 1956!

The Internicine Struggle In The Republican Party For Its Future

As a result of the “Fiscal Cliff” vote on January 1, we have a Republican Party more split than ever, as all but five Republicans supported the legislation in the Senate, while only about one third of the House Republicans backed the legislation. It would not have passed without the support of almost all Democrats in the House.

Mitch McConnell backed it, John McCain backed it, Lindsey Graham backed it, but Rand Paul and Marco Rubio did not.

Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan backed the legislation, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy did not!

Presidential ambitions and the battle over proper strategy for the party’s future on the budget and so many other issues will lead to an internicine struggle over the next months and years leading up to the Congressional Elections of 2014, and the Presidential Election of 2016.

The Republican Party And Debt Default And Government Shutdown: Constant “Hostage Taking” Tactics!

Now that the “Fiscal Cliff” battle is over, and Barack Obama has won the battle on raising taxes on high incomes, a compromise at $450,000, instead of his original plan of $250,000, already the Republican Party, which lost the battle with only one third of them supporting it, but with Democratic backing and agreement to conduct a vote by Speaker John Boehner allowing it to pass, are creating a new crisis with reckless, irresponsible Republicans ready to fight on the issue of the raising of the debt limit, which must occur by the end of February. A new “Hostage Taking” situation is being created once again!

Among those Republicans who are arguing for a debt default and government shutdown are:

Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
Senator John Cornyn of Texas
Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky
Senator Mike Lee of Utah
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota
Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Leader
Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, House Budget Commitee Chairman
Congressman Kevin McCarthy of California, House Majority Whip

Among those arguing against it, but not in public office are:

Former Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich
Just about any sane Republican who held office in the past and is holding his or her head in their hands in grief at what their party has become!

Speaker John Boehner has said that we cannot renege on the debt, and he knows that the government shutdown in 1995 by the House Republicans under Newt Gingrich during the Bill Clinton Administration was a disaster, and helped Clinton win a second term, and public opinion polls backed Clinton during the debacle.

But Boehner, having lost support of a dozen House Republicans in the Speakership vote on Wednesday, is weakened, and has a massive headache with Tea Party radicals and others who should know better than to play games with the fiscal health of the American economy!

Boehner has already said he will not speak privately with Obama, and has already insulted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid with foul language, which he has not apologized for.

This creates a very awkward situation as the deadline nears iin late February, and all it will do is boost the ratings of the Democrats and President Obama, and further degrade the Republican Party future. Obviously, their defeat in November has NOT changed the mindset of the GOP, and that spells tragedy for their political futures!

A thought that comes to mind is that Vice President Joe Biden might again have to be called upon to negotiate with Boehner and others, since Obama and Reid seem to have no possibility of private discussions with House leaders or Senate leaders. Biden may, again, save the day, for the umpteenth time!

The point is that the Republican Party is fighting a losing battle for public opinion, and if there are bad economic implications, they will be the ones to suffer for it in 2014 and 2016!

Obscene, Crude Behavior By Republicans And Conservative Ideologues: No Common Decency!

Republicans and conservative ideologues have no limits as to their obscene, crude behavior.

Witness the news that Speaker of the House John Boehner, passing by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, uttered “Go F—Yourself”, which startled Reid, and Boehner repeated it. This was done, all because of the frustration of Boehner with Reid and the Democrats over the difficult bargaining on the “Fiscal Cliff”. It is certainly believable that anyone can have such thoughts, and might even state so to his friends and colleagues about someone else, but to use such language directly eye to eye with the person being attacked by such invective, is totally unacceptable, totally crude and obscene, totally unbecoming of a Congressional leader or anyone else in the public eye! Boehner needs to apologize publicly to Reid, but is unlikely to do so, but this makes further communication and negotiation with political rivals all that much more difficult! As a public figure, Boehner needs to set an example of good and appropriate behavior!

Let us not forget that during the George W. Bush Administration, Vice President Dick Cheney said the same words that Boehner utiliized against Reid, against Senator Patrick Leahy in the Senate chamber, and never apologized, and in fact bragged and gloated about his misbehavior and lack of class!

But it is not just foul language as mentioned above, but also the attack on Hillary Clinton by Republicans and conservatives who think her concussion and hospitalization with a blood clot is a lie, designed to prevent her from having to testify about the Benghazi, Libya terrorist attack on September 11, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others.

So fun has been made, and accusations have been uttered, that Hillary is not really sick, that it is all a cover up!

Among those saying this on camera are:

Former Florida Congressman Allen West
Former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton
Conservative ideologue Laura Ingraham
Charles Krauthammer of Fox News Channel
Bill O’Reilly of Fox News Channel
Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel
Rush Limbaugh, radio talk show host

And this is just a short list of cynics, who have no common decency, no compassion, no humanity, and know very well that the Libya matter is all conjured up, not a real issue. But it is the view of the right wing wingnuts that they must attack Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Joe Biden and other Democrats, simply because they are alive and breathing!

Nothing will stop the nasty, insulting, disgraceful behavior of Republicans and conservative ideologues in their mission to destroy America through character assassination of our political leaders, as long as they are Democrats!

The “Fiscal Cliff” Deal And Joe Biden’s Future

The details of the “Fiscal Cliff” deal will be analyzed over the coming days and weeks, but one of the clear cut winners is Vice President Joe Biden.

It was Biden who was summoned by President Barack Obama to meet with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on details of a proposed deal, and it was Joe Biden who brought about the agreement that avoided damage to financial markets, which already are booming this morning as the author writes.

It just proved once again how important Joe Biden is to the Obama Administration. He is no lapdog who just sits in the background of events. He is in the forefront of everything that Obama has done, although not always having his advice pursued.

But when push comes to shove, Biden is crucial to Obama, and he has shown that his great legislative experience and engaging personality can have a massive effect on bringing about positive results.

Biden is a masterful legislator, and has used his friendships and ties to other senior Senators to bring about desired results, but also, his expertise on foreign policy is hard to match!

Biden, in a fashion different from Lyndon B. Johnson, is a “wheeler dealer” who knows how to get things done, a term often given to the 36th President when he was Senate Majority Leader in the 1950s, as well as when he was President and getting tremendous results on his Great Society programs.

Biden’s talent as a deal maker, who is able to work across the aisle, and has the respect of Republican leaders, even if they do not agree with him philosophically, is precisely the type of leadership that could be useful to follow President Obama in the White House.

So despite his age of 74 in 2016, it is not proper to dismiss Biden as possibly the next President of the United States, as we could do far worse!

And realize NO ONE who has ever run for the Presidency in all of our history has the record of 44 years of service in government that Biden has—36 as a Senator, one of the longest terms ever, and eight years as Vice President, in the midst of all of the issues at hand!

Joe Biden’s warm, engaging personality, which gives people confidence and a feeling of liking this “regular guy”, is also a tremendous asset, as how many others in politics can come across as he does? This man is no phony, and instead is totally real and genuine, which may be his greatest asset of all!

Solution To The “Fiscal Cliff”: If No Results, NO Salary And NO Benefits For All Members Of Congress!

It seems, as the author writes, that there will be no solution to the “Fiscal Cliff” crisis by the end of today, and that means massive tax increases for everyone; the end of unemployment compensation for two million people; and the possible doubling of milk and dairy prices. The likelihood of a recession returning, just as the economy was starting to improve, is a very real possibility!.

The answer SHOULD be that Congress must suffer too, if this is to happen! Their recklessness and irresponsibility is outrageous to the extreme, and no promise of improvement is likely anytime soon. They are undermining the respect for their institution, and turning the American people into a total disgust for their government’s inability to work for the public interest!

So there should be a public demand that ALL members of Congress forfeit their paychecks of about $175,000 per year per member, and ALL their medical benefits UNTIL they show responsibility and maturity to resolve this issue of the “Fiscal Cliff”! And there should be no back pay when the solution is finally reached!

Of course, in reality, no such situation can be forced, sadly, and of course, many members do not live on their salaries anyway, and are independently wealthy, but it is time through marches and demonstrations on Washington, DC, and across the country, that the people make it clear that they will not allow the anti government Tea Party Movement to “blackmail” the nation. It is time for Speaker John Boehner to assert his authority over the reckless members of his caucus, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to stop the maneuvering that prevents action in the Senate!

The Democrats are not totally innocent, either, by any means, but it is the GOP which has caused this crisis, since the Democrats and President Obama won the elections in November, and are entitled now to make policy for the nation, without anarchistic, terrorist like actions by the Tea Party Movement and its extreme right wing membership in Congress and across the country!

We can only hope for a miracle as we go into 2013!

Meanwhile, I wish all my readers a very Happy New Year, and hope for statesmanship and rationality in the New Year!

Tomorrow will, happily, be a day of celebration historically, and if one is not sure what this author is referring to, it will be answered tomorrow–a day in history that is one of the greatest moments in American history! See you in 2013!

The Republican Party Crisis: Does It Have A Future, Or Is It To Go Into The Dustbin Of History?

As we enter the year 2013 in two days, the long term future of the Republican Party as a legitimate long term alternative to the Democratic Party is in dire threat of disappearing into the dustbin of history!

The Republican Party lost the Presidential and Congressional Elections of 2012 in a sound repudiation, with Barack Obama soundly defeating Mitt Romney. The US Senate, with 23 of 33 seats up for election being Democratic seats, and expected to lose some seats, ended up winning 25 of the seats, gaining three seats and only losing Nebraska to the Republicans. The US House of Representatives, while remaining in Republican hands, saw a gain of ten House seats by the Democrats. If it was not for gerrymandering by many Republican state legislatures, the Democrats would have gained control, as they won more total votes nationally in House races than the Republicans.

So the GOP really was walloped, and yet the party seems unable to accept what happened, and have allowed themselves to be hijacked by extremist groups, including the Tea Party Movement, Americans For Tax Reform, right wing talk show hosts on radio and Fox News Channel, the National Rifle Association,The Koch Brothers and other millionaires and billionaires, right wing preachers, and anti immigrant nativists and anti women’s rights elements, therefore resisting the need to move back from the extreme right to the moderate center, where the party had many victories over the years as a more mainstream conservative alternative to the Democratic Party.

It is now a moment of reckoning, as the Republican Party is about to implode, as public opinion polls make clear that the party will be blamed if America goes off the “fiscal cliff”, and taxes go up on everyone, and ruthless spending cuts, which hurt the most needy and disadvantaged in our society, occur!

There is a possibility that the Republican Party will go into the dustbin of history, if they do not reform in time for the midterm elections of 2014, which could, ironically, lead to the demise of the party on its 160th anniversary, having been founded as a reform oriented party in 1854, replacing the Whig Party!

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell have a major burden to deal with as the New Year begins, and their own personal futures, as well as that of their party, is meeting the challenge of becoming what they once were, a mainstream centrist party that can appeal to the changing demographics of America, or be replaced by a modern day Whig Party, with statesmen and leaders on the model of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, and former Whigs who started the Republican Party, such as Abraham Lincoln!

The Growing Role Of Vice President Joe Biden

Any thought that Vice President Joe Biden, who was a major factor in the successes of the first Obama term and in his reelection efforts, might start to “disappear” after the election is effectively dormant!

Biden has been asked by President Barack Obama to head a team to come up with some kind of plan for gun regulation, which does not take away the Second Amendment, but shows a level of responsibility to protect the American people from gun maniacs, who are now able to buy large magazines of bullets and assault rifles without any regulation. If anything, the killing of volunteer firefighters outside Rochester, New York, by a crazed murderer, only adds to the tragedy of what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, and earlier this year in Colorado and too many other places, the mass death or wounding of innocent people!

But also, Biden is working behind the scenes to try to come up with a deal to avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”, and he is highly respected by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and more importantly, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, as well as House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

There is no guarantee that Biden will have a magic potion on the issue of gun control or the “Fiscal Cliff”. But the point is that he is in the game, always willing and able to help the President and the nation, and this cannot but help his potential, and likely, candidacy for the Presidency in 2016.

Biden is a man of energy, who acts much younger than his age of 70, and should not be dismissed as the heir to Barack Obama in 2016!

Speaker John Boehner And The Uncontrollable Republican Majority

It is absolutely amazing how Speaker of the House John Boehner has been totally emasculated by the Tea Party Caucus in the House of Representatives, and seems unable to strike a deal with President Barack Obama on avoiding the so called “Fiscal Cliff”.

The only good thing out of this is that the Republican Party, already way down in the polls, and seen as an extremist, uncompromising group, will suffer further from the lack of an agreement, and the Democrats will have the edge on the issue of spending and taxation when the new year begins, and after a short period of uncertainty, the tax cuts for 98 percent of the American people will be restored, while the tax increases for the top two percent will continue, and maybe go back to the $250,000 range, rather than the deal Obama was striking to make it $400,000.

The Republicans, with a reduced majority and fewer Tea Party members in January, will face the music that they have self destructed, and it is time to consider that we may be witnessing the death of the Republican Party as we once knew it, and that a new moderate, centrist party, a real competition to the Democrats, might emerge sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, the Speakership office has suffered its greatest decline since the “Revolution of 1910” against Speker Joseph Cannon, which took away a lot of power from the Speaker’s office.

Boehner will NOT go down in history as an outstanding Speaker, such as Sam Rayburn or Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, but more like Joseph Martin or Jim Wright. And even Newt Gingrich, with all his faults, will rank higher in history than John Boehner!

Rumored Deal On Raising Medicare Eligibility Age Totally Wrongheaded!

As the “Fiscal Cliff” deadline nears, there are rumors emerging that President Barack Obama might be ready to make a deal with Speaker John Boehner and the Republican Party, that in exchange for their support on raising taxes on those making over $250,000 a year by a few points, that the Democrats agree to raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

Some see this as similar to the “grand deal” between President Ronald Reagan and Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, adopted thirty years ago in 1983, that raised the Social Security age from 65 to 67 in graduated amounts over a long period of time.

However, that was a totally different situation, and only involved a delay in gaining full benefits on Social Security over a long period of years.

This involves a rapid move to 67, and with no benefits until that age for Medicare, while Social Security has always allowed a smaller benefit as young as 62.

Also, this is MEDICAL, not a check every month, and people in their mid 60s are more likely to have health issues, and many jobs are such that a person cannot be expected to work extra years (particularly physical kind of jobs), and will therefore have a gap of years without medical coverage, and any such coverage would be prohibitively expensive!

The answer is to tax a higher percentage amount for Medicare, as everyone should be entitled to Medicare at no later than 65!

It would be unconscionable to throw people nearing or in retirement off of guaranteed health care at a vulnerable age!

Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Tom Harkin of Iowa are leading the fight against any changes in the retirement age, and President Obama needs to have pressure brought to prevent such a radical change that would really hurt working class people, both white and minority!

Progressives and liberals need to let Obama know that they have his back, and that he must NOT bend to Republicans on this issue, and if he does, he will have lost much of his support which put him in the White House twice!

And this would anger this blogger as well! Let me make that perfectly clear!