Tag Archives: speaker

Trumpcare Still Hasn’t Been Sent to the Senate

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As we all know, the Republican health care bill can’t survive a Democratic filibuster, so it’s being considered via reconciliation, which requires only 51 votes in the Senate. That means the bill has to obey reconciliation rules.

Normally, this is not a big problem. If some aspect of the House bill violates the rules, it gets removed in the Senate and life goes on. But what if the bill violates the prime rule of reconciliation—namely that it reduce the deficit? Then it’s dead and everyone has to start all over. This means the House has to be pretty careful that their bill does indeed reduce the deficit.

But how do they know if it reduces the deficit? Easy: the CBO scores the bill and tells them. But Paul Ryan famously rushed passage of the bill in the House before CBO had time to deliver a score, so no one knows for sure if it still reduces the deficit. Bloomberg reports on what this means:

House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects….”I had no idea,” Dennis Ross of Florida, another member of the vote-counting team, said Thursday, adding that the prospect of another vote “does concern me.” GOP leaders never said publicly they were planning to hold on to the bill for two weeks or longer.

In the end, I imagine the bill will get scored as a deficit reduction and then be sent to the Senate. But the fact that Ryan is still holding onto the bill shows that he knew perfectly well how irresponsible it was to force a vote before the CBO delivers a score. In addition to being callous and malignant, the whole thing is also a massive FUBAR.

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Trumpcare Still Hasn’t Been Sent to the Senate

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Republicans Pull Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

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In a stunning defeat to House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump, Republicans on Friday pulled from the House floor their bill to repeal and replace the Obamacare, abruptly cancelling a vote that was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The GOP plan was originally scheduled for a vote on Thursday but was postponed amid doubts about whether it could pass. The vote was rescheduled for Friday, but apparently Republicans were still unable to cobble together enough support. Trump reportedly warned House Republicans that if they failed to pass the health care legislation, he was prepared to move on and keep Obamacare in place.

This is a breaking news post. We will update when more information becomes available.

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Republicans Pull Bill to Repeal and Replace Obamacare

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Quote of the Day: Obamacare Replacement Will Leave No One Worse Off

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From House Speaker Paul Ryan, on Republican plans to repeal and replace Obamacare:

There will be a transition and a bridge so that no one is left out in the cold, so that no one is worse off.

This quote is a month old, but I only noticed it today when Nancy LeTourneau brought it to my attention. Democrats need to hold Ryan to this.

That means no change in Medicaid expansion. It means no change in access to health coverage. It means no reduction in federal subsidies. It means making sure that insurers stay in the exchanges. It means no lifetime limits on covered medical care. It means kids can stay on their parents’ plan through age 26.

This is also a good yardstick for Ryan’s eventual replacement for Obamacare. Technically, he didn’t say that the eventual Republican replacement would leave no one worse off, only the transition. But someone should pin him down on that too.

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Quote of the Day: Obamacare Replacement Will Leave No One Worse Off

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Trump Apparently Scares the Hell out of Gingrich

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In an interview with NPR on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich claimed that Donald Trump was ditching the catchphrase “drain the swamp”—the popular expression he used during the campaign when he promised to eliminate big money interests and corruption in Washington. The statement follows a number of actions by the president-elect that appear to back Gingrich’s assertion, as Trump appoints to his cabinet an increasing number of billionaires and millionaires with unprecedented potential conflicts of interest.

“I’m told he now just disclaims that,” the former House Speaker and loyal Trump adviser said. “He now says it was cute but he doesn’t want to use it anymore…I’d written what I thought was a very cute tweet about the ‘alligators are complaining,’ and somebody wrote back and said they were tired of hearing this stuff.”

But on Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to rebut the claim, all but calling Gingrich out by name for apparently going off message:

Shortly after, Gingrich posted this very sad video message confessing his “big boo boo.”

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Trump Apparently Scares the Hell out of Gingrich

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Can Paul Ryan Save the GOP From Itself—and Save Himself From the GOP?

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House Republicans are currently grappling with a fundamental philosophical question: What happens when an ungovernable group must elect a new leader?

A month after Speaker John Boehner announced his plan to resign, the Republican majority in the House has been unable to find a replacement for him. Boehner’s deputy, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), was the favorite to succeed Boehner, but he was forced to step aside amid opposition from the caucus’ most conservative members. McCarthy’s exit left the party in chaos and led to calls for Paul Ryan to become the next speaker. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Republican told his caucus he would consider taking the job, signaling that an end to the party’s leadership crisis might finally be near. Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012, has credibility in both moderate and conservative circles.

But there’s a catch. Ryan will take the job only if every caucus in his party—including the right-wing 40-member Freedom Caucus that helped force Boehner out of office—unites behind him. In short, the Republican Party has to promise to be governable. And the hardliners have to promise to stop being such hardliners. It’s a tall order—and Ryan wants an answer by Friday.

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Can Paul Ryan Save the GOP From Itself—and Save Himself From the GOP?

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The GOP’s Problems Go Way Deeper Than the Speaker Mess

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Hudson Christie

Has any piece of legislation in American history held on by its fingertips more dramatically than the Affordable Care Act? Let’s review the tape.

In 2009, it passed in the Senate by a margin of zero votes. In 2010, thanks to some fancy parliamentary maneuvering, it survived the loss of the Democrats’ filibuster-­proof majority after Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death. In 2012, it squeaked through a Supreme Court challenge after Chief Justice John Roberts reportedly changed his vote at the last minute. It hung on again later that year when President Barack Obama won reelection. In 2013 came the disastrous rollout of its website, and in 2015, yet another unsuccessful Supreme Court challenge. And along the way it outlasted more than 50 attempts by congressional Republicans to repeal all or part of it.

For six years, Obamacare has been the ultimate Republican punching bag. It helped win the party a landslide victory in the 2010 midterms. Repealing it has consistently been an applause line for conservative politicians. And even now that it’s up and running pretty successfully, poll after poll shows at least 40 percent of the public still disapproves of it.

All this means that Obamacare should be a killer issue for Republicans in 2016. It’s fragile, it’s unpopular, it’s hated by the base, and this is their last realistic chance to repeal it. If they don’t take the presidency and both houses of Congress next year, they’ll have to wait until 2020 for another opportunity. By that time, the law will have been in place for a decade, and it will be covering upward of 20-25 million people. While that might not be enough to make it as beloved as Social Security or Medicare, it’s certainly enough to make it politically unassailable. Conservatives have been warning for years that if Obamacare doesn’t get repealed this instant, it will soon be too late. This time they’re finally right.

And yet, so far the issue has been oddly MIA in the Republican primary. Chants of “repeal and replace” are still around, but they have a distinctly pro forma ring to them. Obamacare was barely mentioned in the first two Republican debates, eclipsed by Donald Trump, border walls, and ISIS. And even if a Republican wins the White House next fall, conservative health care wonks have nearly given up on enacting anything more than a partial rollback of the law.

So what happened? What killed off the frenzied demands to destroy Obama’s signature achievement?

The most obvious answer is that conservatives have been whipping up outrage about the law for so long that even its most ardent haters are exhausted. What’s more, it’s much harder to take away a benefit that lots of people are actually relying on than to repeal a theoretical one.

But Obamacare’s foes running out of steam is just the most obvious sign of a larger trend: A lot of traditional conservative issues are losing their momentum. Gay marriage lost its fear factor years ago and was taken off the table once and for all by the Supreme Court in June. The economy is probably in good enough shape to not be a big campaign issue. Taxes have already been lowered so much that the average family pays only about 5 percent of its earnings to the IRS. And 14 years after 9/11 and four years after Osama bin Laden’s death, accusing liberals of being spineless on terrorism no longer packs the same punch.

True, Republicans still have a short list of hot-button topics that inflame their base, but increasingly these are wedge issues that promise nearly as much downside as upside. Immigration is the most visible example. Hysteria over border walls, birthright citizenship, and anchor babies risks losing Hispanics to the Democratic Party for good—something the GOP can ill afford. And the problems go far beyond immigration. Republican voters aren’t sold on the idea of Iraq War 2.0, and as a result even the most hawkish candidates are unwilling to propose sending more than a few thousand troops to fight ISIS. Even abortion runs the risk of becoming a wedge issue for the party as activists demand that candidates take extreme positions such as opposing exceptions for rape, incest, or the life and health of the mother—even though these are popular among most Republican voters.

This is the point at which liberals are supposed to sneer that the GOP is now the party of no new ideas. But that’s not really fair. The difference between the two parties isn’t so much one of ideas, but of unity behind those ideas. Thirty years ago, Democrats were the ones torn apart by wedge issues: affirmative action, crime, abortion, taxes. These tensions haven’t gone away completely—just look at Black Lives Matter activists heckling Sen. Bernie Sanders over the summer—but they no longer dominate the party. Now the tables have turned. A recent survey showed that nearly half of Democrats agreed with their party’s core position on at least six of seven major issues. Only a quarter of Republicans were in such broad agreement with their party. And the discord is coming at the worst possible time, just as long-term demographics are starting to seriously eat into their base.

Millennials, the most socially liberal generation ever, are increasing their share of the electorate as more conservative cohorts die off. And every year, the racial minority share of the population rises by 0.4 percent. The net result is simple: Every four years, roughly 2 percent of the population leans further left. It’s a slow enough process that Republicans can still win presidential elections, but in a 50-50 nation even small changes in support are enough to make these wins more difficult. Gerrymandering and incumbency effects may keep Republicans in partial control of Congress for a while longer, but the presidency is slipping out of their reach.

There are no obvious solutions. If Republicans move to the center—as Democrats did in the ’80s—they risk losing the support of their base. If they move to the right, they lose moderates and independents. Arthur Brooks, president of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, acknowledged this conundrum recently when he told the Washington Post that “Republicans need to recognize this and change the terms of the conversation—or they’ll pay the price for decades.”

Every party faces conflict between its center and its base, but the emergence of the tea party and the Fox News echo chamber has put this dynamic on steroids. Moving even to the moderate right, let alone to the center, is all but impossible for the GOP. Its base demands not just a border fence, but the repeal of the 14th Amendment; not just opposition to gun control, but rejection of universal background checks, which even the National Rifle Association used to support; not just skepticism about climate change, but insistence that global warming is a grand hoax perpetrated by liberals to subvert the free market. This conflict between party and base entered uncharted territory earlier this month when Republicans literally couldn’t find a single plausible candidate willing to be Speaker of the House. No one wanted to deal with the bomb-throwing antics of the reactionary wing of their own party. Even candidates who consider themselves tea partiers didn’t think they could control a caucus dominated by tea partiers. Among Republicans, becoming Speaker is now considered a career death sentence.

It’s hard to see any way out of this. If Republican candidates appeal to nativism, they lose the Hispanic vote. If they appeal to social conservatives, they lose the millennial vote. If they appeal to older white voters, they energize black voters and do the Democrats’ grassroots organizing for them. And if they throw up their hands and rely on endless hysteria about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s email server, the tea partiers will turn out in droves but they lose everyone else. In an era when the inmates are running the asylum, it’s not just Obamacare bashing that’s become a double-edged sword for Republicans. It’s nearly everything they’ve relied on for the past three decades.

Increasingly, this is the GOP’s true dilemma. It’s not the party of no ideas; it’s the party of no escape.

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The GOP’s Problems Go Way Deeper Than the Speaker Mess

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Have You Ever Thought About the Republican Party? I Mean, Really Thought About It?

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As much as we’ve talked about it, I wonder if we’ve really gotten our heads around the fact that Paul Ryan is literally being begged to be the leader of the Republican Party. He is Literally. Being. Begged. To be the leader of one of America’s two major parties! And he doesn’t want it, no how, no way. Because he knows there’s a substantial faction of his party that’s insane. And who would know better?

I feel like this is one of those things that maybe you can only truly comprehend after a couple of blunts:

Boehner: Dude, have you ever thought about the Republican Party? I mean, really thought about it?

Ryan: I know. I know. It’s, like, insane, man. (Giggles, coughs.) This is good stuff. Medical, right?

Boehner: That’s it! Totally insane. I mean, completely batshit fucked up.

Ryan: But awesome. Insane but still awesome. I mean, seriously, it’s our only defense against, like, total socialism.

Boehner: Oh man, you been reading Atlas Shrugged again? You’re bumming me out, dude.

And while we’re on the subject, I have another idea. As thousands of people have pointed out, nothing in the Constitution says the Speaker has to be a member of Congress. This has spawned a whole cottage industry of jokes. Donald Trump! Bibi Netanyahu! Rush Limbaugh! But I have another idea: does it have to be one person? Here’s the relevant text:

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers….

Sure, “Speaker” is singular in that sentence, but “Speaker and other Officers” suggests that maybe leadership of the House could be shared. How about a triumvirate, like Rome in its glory days? Ryan could be one, some tea party nutcase could be another, and the third could be, um, Mia Love, who’s a black woman and the daughter of immigrants. I’m not sure how they’d make decisions, but I guess they’d figure out something. Maybe rock paper scissors.

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Have You Ever Thought About the Republican Party? I Mean, Really Thought About It?

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The Not-So-Great Moments of One of the Guys Still Running for Speaker

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When Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suddenly dropped out of the running for House Speaker Thursday, it wasn’t immediately clear who was the odds-on pick to succeed outgoing House Speaker John Boehner. But there were two contenders who remained in the race: Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Daniel Webster of Florida. And some eyes turned quickly to Utah’s Jason Chaffetz, who is perhaps the more prominent of the pair and who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

McCarthy’s surprising self-defenestration, though, did not immediately boost Chaffetz’s chances; other names were quickly floated by House Republicans and pundits. Yet the story of Chaffetz’s rise from kicker on the Brigham Young University football team to a speaker contender is an intriguing tale, in which he has hit several rough spots. A small sampling:

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The Not-So-Great Moments of One of the Guys Still Running for Speaker

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The Latest and Largest Batch of Clinton Emails Was Released This Week

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On Monday, the US State Department released the latest and largest batch of Hillary Clinton’s emails from her time as secretary of state. The emails she sent and received are being released on a monthly basis and these 7,000 pages continue to shed light on some behind-the-scenes activity from her time as the nation’s top diplomat. Her emails range from the trivial—like when she asks subordinates about the schedule of The Good Wife—to weighty matters of diplomacy, including more than 100 heavily redacted emails that may not have been classified at the time Clinton and her staff were sending them back and forth, but were then classified in the review before they were released. Longtime Clinton confidante, author, and political operative Sidney Blumenthal, appears throughout this batch. In one email, he calls Speaker of the House John Boehner “louche,” “alcoholic,” and “lazy.”

See the emails below in a searchable document:

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Hillary Clinton August Release (PDF)

Hillary Clinton August Release (Text)

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The Latest and Largest Batch of Clinton Emails Was Released This Week

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Dennis Hastert Was Just Indicted on Federal Charges. Read the Full Indictment.

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Former Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert has been indicted for illegally transferring funds to dodge the IRS and lying to the FBI, reports John Stanton at BuzzFeed. Read the full indictment below:

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Hastert Indictment (PDF)

Hastert Indictment (Text)

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Dennis Hastert Was Just Indicted on Federal Charges. Read the Full Indictment.

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