Commentary Magazine


Topic: Minority Leader

Tea Party Wins on Earmarks

Elections are wondrous things. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously expressed some skepticism about doing away with earmarks, has heard the voters. On the Senate floor today he declared:

I have seen a lot of elections in my life, but I have never seen an election like the one we had earlier this month. The 2010 midterm election was a “change” election the likes of which I have never seen, and the change that people want, above all, is right here in Washington.

Most Americans are deeply unhappy with their government, more so than at any other time in decades. And after the way lawmakers have done business up here over the last couple of years, it’s easy to see why. But it’s not enough to point out the faults of the party in power. Americans want change, not mere criticism. And that means that all of us in Washington need to get serious about changing the way we do business, even on things we have defended in the past, perhaps for good reason. …

I have thought about these things long and hard over the past few weeks. I’ve talked with my members. I’ve listened to them. Above all, I have listened to my constituents.  And what I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example. Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.

Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.

That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.

Chalk one up for the Tea Party. As I said earlier today, it simply isn’t tenable for Republicans to oppose measures like this. Moreover, if this is any indication, the media-driven narrative of the Tea Party vs. the establishment will quickly fade as both halves of the party make common cause in trying to re-establish the GOP as the party of fiscal discipline.

Elections are wondrous things. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously expressed some skepticism about doing away with earmarks, has heard the voters. On the Senate floor today he declared:

I have seen a lot of elections in my life, but I have never seen an election like the one we had earlier this month. The 2010 midterm election was a “change” election the likes of which I have never seen, and the change that people want, above all, is right here in Washington.

Most Americans are deeply unhappy with their government, more so than at any other time in decades. And after the way lawmakers have done business up here over the last couple of years, it’s easy to see why. But it’s not enough to point out the faults of the party in power. Americans want change, not mere criticism. And that means that all of us in Washington need to get serious about changing the way we do business, even on things we have defended in the past, perhaps for good reason. …

I have thought about these things long and hard over the past few weeks. I’ve talked with my members. I’ve listened to them. Above all, I have listened to my constituents.  And what I’ve concluded is that on the issue of congressional earmarks, as the leader of my party in the Senate, I have to lead first by example. Nearly every day that the Senate’s been in session for the past two years, I have come down to this spot and said that Democrats are ignoring the wishes of the American people. When it comes to earmarks, I won’t be guilty of the same thing.

Make no mistake. I know the good that has come from the projects I have helped support throughout my state. I don’t apologize for them. But there is simply no doubt that the abuse of this practice has caused Americans to view it as a symbol of the waste and the out-of-control spending that every Republican in Washington is determined to fight. And unless people like me show the American people that we’re willing to follow through on small or even symbolic things, we risk losing them on our broader efforts to cut spending and rein in government.

That’s why today I am announcing that I will join the Republican Leadership in the House in support of a moratorium on earmarks in the 112th Congress.

Chalk one up for the Tea Party. As I said earlier today, it simply isn’t tenable for Republicans to oppose measures like this. Moreover, if this is any indication, the media-driven narrative of the Tea Party vs. the establishment will quickly fade as both halves of the party make common cause in trying to re-establish the GOP as the party of fiscal discipline.

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Can Obama Triangulate?

Bill Kristol is optimistic. On Fox News Sunday, he predicted:

We’re going to have an agreement on extending current tax rates for three or four years, I think. We’re going to have an agreement that we shouldn’t have earmarks. There’ll be an agreement on some spending cuts. There’ll be an agreement on prosecuting the war in Afghanistan.

All of this makes perfect sense for Republicans. They will dispel the notion that they are wackos incapable of governing. The positions outlined above are not divisive ones within the Republican Party. Yes, GOP Senate leadership has expressed skepticism about the value of an earmark ban, but if one is proposed, no Republican would be inclined  to vote against it.

As for the Democrats, each of these issues will exacerbate the split between the left and the far left. The same House members who are cheering Nancy Pelosi’s  plan to stay on as minority leader, the netroot activists, and the liberal blogosphere will be in an uproar on spending cuts (we already had a preview when the debt commission released its preliminary report), tax cuts for the “rich,” and a Bush-like commitment to Afghanistan (i.e., the withdrawal of the withdrawal deadline). It’s not going to make Obama’s life easier within his own party; on the contrary, the howls and screeches will get worse.

Does this help Obama, showing how reasonable he is? Well, there will be plenty to show he is not so amenable to the voters’ wishes or the concerns of business. He is, so far, refusing to deal on ObamaCare, a major irritant to independent and conservative voters and a barrier to meaningful deficit-cutting. The danger here is that, as he often does, Obama winds up pleasing no one. His base is increasingly grouchy and dispirited; his adversaries don’t take his promises of fiscal sobriety seriously. But at this point, Obama has no choice — his 2008 coalition has fractured, and he has lost independents. If he does nothing, he’s a one-term president; so he might as well try something else. Unless, of course, he can’t bring himself to break faith with the hard left.

Bill Kristol is optimistic. On Fox News Sunday, he predicted:

We’re going to have an agreement on extending current tax rates for three or four years, I think. We’re going to have an agreement that we shouldn’t have earmarks. There’ll be an agreement on some spending cuts. There’ll be an agreement on prosecuting the war in Afghanistan.

All of this makes perfect sense for Republicans. They will dispel the notion that they are wackos incapable of governing. The positions outlined above are not divisive ones within the Republican Party. Yes, GOP Senate leadership has expressed skepticism about the value of an earmark ban, but if one is proposed, no Republican would be inclined  to vote against it.

As for the Democrats, each of these issues will exacerbate the split between the left and the far left. The same House members who are cheering Nancy Pelosi’s  plan to stay on as minority leader, the netroot activists, and the liberal blogosphere will be in an uproar on spending cuts (we already had a preview when the debt commission released its preliminary report), tax cuts for the “rich,” and a Bush-like commitment to Afghanistan (i.e., the withdrawal of the withdrawal deadline). It’s not going to make Obama’s life easier within his own party; on the contrary, the howls and screeches will get worse.

Does this help Obama, showing how reasonable he is? Well, there will be plenty to show he is not so amenable to the voters’ wishes or the concerns of business. He is, so far, refusing to deal on ObamaCare, a major irritant to independent and conservative voters and a barrier to meaningful deficit-cutting. The danger here is that, as he often does, Obama winds up pleasing no one. His base is increasingly grouchy and dispirited; his adversaries don’t take his promises of fiscal sobriety seriously. But at this point, Obama has no choice — his 2008 coalition has fractured, and he has lost independents. If he does nothing, he’s a one-term president; so he might as well try something else. Unless, of course, he can’t bring himself to break faith with the hard left.

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Obama Shouldn’t Bet on the GOP Messing Up

Gallup reports:

Americans’ opinions of House Republican Leader John Boehner, who is in line to be the speaker of the House in the new Congress, improved after the midterm elections. Though 4 in 10 Americans are still unfamiliar with Boehner, more Americans now rate him positively than negatively, a shift from three prior 2010 readings, including one taken in mid-October. …

Boehner’s counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, is somewhat better known, though one in three still do not have an opinion of him. Unlike Boehner, Reid is viewed much more negatively than positively. In the latest poll, 25% have a favorable opinion of Reid and 43% an unfavorable one. That is little changed from the prior measurement of Reid from May.

We shouldn’t put too much stock in poll numbers, which come in advance of anyone doing anything. But still, this suggests the problem for the Dems: their leaders in Congress are the same old unlikeable figures; the president is exasperating even his own party; and, meanwhile, the GOP leadership is comprised of fresh faces to much of the electorate and is trying its best not to overplay its hand.

The Democrats would have been wise to dump Reid, but after the voters of Nevada refused to do their dirty work, neither Chuck Schumer nor Dick Durbin had the nerve to challenge him. And when you throw in the possibility of Nancy Pelosi in the minority leader’s chair, you see that the “change” party has become the defenders of the status quo. And, my, how negative they are – nixing the debt commission, nixing tax relief for Americans, nixing  revision of ObamaCare. It’s almost like they are the “party of no.”

Gallup reports:

Americans’ opinions of House Republican Leader John Boehner, who is in line to be the speaker of the House in the new Congress, improved after the midterm elections. Though 4 in 10 Americans are still unfamiliar with Boehner, more Americans now rate him positively than negatively, a shift from three prior 2010 readings, including one taken in mid-October. …

Boehner’s counterpart in the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, is somewhat better known, though one in three still do not have an opinion of him. Unlike Boehner, Reid is viewed much more negatively than positively. In the latest poll, 25% have a favorable opinion of Reid and 43% an unfavorable one. That is little changed from the prior measurement of Reid from May.

We shouldn’t put too much stock in poll numbers, which come in advance of anyone doing anything. But still, this suggests the problem for the Dems: their leaders in Congress are the same old unlikeable figures; the president is exasperating even his own party; and, meanwhile, the GOP leadership is comprised of fresh faces to much of the electorate and is trying its best not to overplay its hand.

The Democrats would have been wise to dump Reid, but after the voters of Nevada refused to do their dirty work, neither Chuck Schumer nor Dick Durbin had the nerve to challenge him. And when you throw in the possibility of Nancy Pelosi in the minority leader’s chair, you see that the “change” party has become the defenders of the status quo. And, my, how negative they are – nixing the debt commission, nixing tax relief for Americans, nixing  revision of ObamaCare. It’s almost like they are the “party of no.”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A nightmare for Mitt Romney. “Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible presidential candidate in 2012, called for repeal of healthcare legislation during a television interview Sunday morning. ‘I think Obamacare is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed in the modern history of the country,’ Pawlenty said on CNN’s State of the Union.”

A smart position for Republicans on the Fed buying up $600B in bonds. Rep. Paul Ryan: “It’s a big mistake, in my opinion. Look, we have Congress doing tax and spend, borrow and spend. Now we have the Federal Reserve doing print and spend. If this quantitative easing, which is basically monetizing your debt — I think the upsides are very low. We already have very loose monetary policy, very, very low interest rates. This is going to give us an inflation problem in the future. It’s going to give us an interest rate problem in the future. It is destabilizing investment horizons. The Federal Reserve should be focused on sound and honest money, not on trying to micromanage the economy.” (You can see why a lot of conservatives hope he runs in 2012.)

A succinct analysis of Nancy Pelosi’s staying on as minority leader. “It doesn’t matter whether she’ll be good or merely bad or spectacularly bad. What matters is, you lose 65 seats, you resign. Period. There should not be a question.”

A nervous Democrat: Al Hunt on Pelosi’s decision to stick around: “What that seems to ignore are the millions of voters in places like South Bend, Indiana, or Charlotte, North Carolina, who supported President Barack Obama, are disappointed and anxious today and hope for constructive change. The congressional Democrats’ response: It’s business as usual. The message is ‘we’re going to keep doing exactly what we were doing’ before the party ‘got crushed,’ said Representative Jason Altmire, a Pennsylvania Democrat who won his re-election contest 51 percent to 49 percent.” Yes, Republicans are “delighted.”

A rising star. “A young, charismatic Cuban-American with an appealing personal story, [Marco] Rubio took 49 percent of the vote Tuesday, a remarkable total in a three-way race. Exit polls showed he captured 55 percent of the Hispanic vote. As a vice presidential candidate, Rubio could make the nation’s largest swing state even more of a tossup and force Obama’s political team to consider a road map back to the White House without it. National Democrats were watching him long before Tuesday, hoping in vain that he would lose and his potential would be stifled.”

Already a conservative star. ” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie irked NBC’s David Gregory — and probably won over more conservatives weary of the media in the process — by suggesting on “Meet the Press” that the host was acting as an advocate for Democrats in the way he spoke about taxes. Christie, a Republican known for his tell-it-like-it-is attitude, disagreed with Gregory’s characterization of the looming battle in Congress over the Bush years tax rate as ‘tax cuts.'”

A liberal dilettante. That’s the gist of the New York Times‘s assessment of Obama’s Gandhi fetish. “‘The impression on the Indian side is every time you meet him, he talks about Gandhi,’ said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express, a leading English-language newspaper, adding that the repeated references struck some officials as platitudinous.” Moreover, India has moved on. “If anything, India’s rise as a global power seems likely to distance it even further from Gandhi. India is inching toward a tighter military relationship with the United States, once distrusted as an imperialist power, even as the Americans are fighting a war in nearby Afghanistan. India also has an urbanizing consumer-driven economy and a growing middle class that indulges itself in cars, apartments and other goods. It is this economic progress that underpins India’s rising geopolitical clout and its attractiveness to the United States as a global partner.”

A nightmare for Mitt Romney. “Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a possible presidential candidate in 2012, called for repeal of healthcare legislation during a television interview Sunday morning. ‘I think Obamacare is one of the worst pieces of legislation passed in the modern history of the country,’ Pawlenty said on CNN’s State of the Union.”

A smart position for Republicans on the Fed buying up $600B in bonds. Rep. Paul Ryan: “It’s a big mistake, in my opinion. Look, we have Congress doing tax and spend, borrow and spend. Now we have the Federal Reserve doing print and spend. If this quantitative easing, which is basically monetizing your debt — I think the upsides are very low. We already have very loose monetary policy, very, very low interest rates. This is going to give us an inflation problem in the future. It’s going to give us an interest rate problem in the future. It is destabilizing investment horizons. The Federal Reserve should be focused on sound and honest money, not on trying to micromanage the economy.” (You can see why a lot of conservatives hope he runs in 2012.)

A succinct analysis of Nancy Pelosi’s staying on as minority leader. “It doesn’t matter whether she’ll be good or merely bad or spectacularly bad. What matters is, you lose 65 seats, you resign. Period. There should not be a question.”

A nervous Democrat: Al Hunt on Pelosi’s decision to stick around: “What that seems to ignore are the millions of voters in places like South Bend, Indiana, or Charlotte, North Carolina, who supported President Barack Obama, are disappointed and anxious today and hope for constructive change. The congressional Democrats’ response: It’s business as usual. The message is ‘we’re going to keep doing exactly what we were doing’ before the party ‘got crushed,’ said Representative Jason Altmire, a Pennsylvania Democrat who won his re-election contest 51 percent to 49 percent.” Yes, Republicans are “delighted.”

A rising star. “A young, charismatic Cuban-American with an appealing personal story, [Marco] Rubio took 49 percent of the vote Tuesday, a remarkable total in a three-way race. Exit polls showed he captured 55 percent of the Hispanic vote. As a vice presidential candidate, Rubio could make the nation’s largest swing state even more of a tossup and force Obama’s political team to consider a road map back to the White House without it. National Democrats were watching him long before Tuesday, hoping in vain that he would lose and his potential would be stifled.”

Already a conservative star. ” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie irked NBC’s David Gregory — and probably won over more conservatives weary of the media in the process — by suggesting on “Meet the Press” that the host was acting as an advocate for Democrats in the way he spoke about taxes. Christie, a Republican known for his tell-it-like-it-is attitude, disagreed with Gregory’s characterization of the looming battle in Congress over the Bush years tax rate as ‘tax cuts.'”

A liberal dilettante. That’s the gist of the New York Times‘s assessment of Obama’s Gandhi fetish. “‘The impression on the Indian side is every time you meet him, he talks about Gandhi,’ said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express, a leading English-language newspaper, adding that the repeated references struck some officials as platitudinous.” Moreover, India has moved on. “If anything, India’s rise as a global power seems likely to distance it even further from Gandhi. India is inching toward a tighter military relationship with the United States, once distrusted as an imperialist power, even as the Americans are fighting a war in nearby Afghanistan. India also has an urbanizing consumer-driven economy and a growing middle class that indulges itself in cars, apartments and other goods. It is this economic progress that underpins India’s rising geopolitical clout and its attractiveness to the United States as a global partner.”

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RE: Senate Shifts

As I noted yesterday, the new Senate will have more Republicans and, just as important, many more nervous Democrats. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is thinking along the same lines:

“I think the most interesting thing to watch in the next Congress is how many Democrats start voting with us,” McConnell said.

“Every one of the 23 Democrats up [for re-election] in the next cycle has a clear understanding of what happened Tuesday,” he said. “I think we have major opportunities for bipartisan coalitions to support what we want to do.”

There are roughly three groupings of these Democrats. First are those who already cross the aisle now and then. “Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has voted with Republicans about 32 percent of the time during this Congress, according to the Washington Post. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has broken with her party on about 1 in 5 votes.” Yes, this is deceptive because on the really big issues (e.g., ObamaCare), these two voted with the White House. Still, their proclivity is not knee-jerk agreement with their leaders.

Next are those up for re-election in 2012. “Sen. John Tester, who’s up for re-election in 2012, represents red state Montana. And Senator-elect Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has to run again in two years for a full term, has already promised to take aim at Democratic policies — literally.” You can add in Kent Conrad. And Jim Webb.

And finally, you have the Blue State senators whose states aren’t all that Blue anymore. “Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin will say goodbye to Badger State delegation colleague Russ Feingold; Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey and Florida’s Bill Nelson will be joined on the Hill in January by conservative Republicans instead of by fellow Dems; and Sen. Sherrod Brown witnessed the Democrat in Ohio’s Senate contest beaten by almost 20 points.” In short, they risk being shown up by their states’ more-conservative senators.

For years, the conservative base has grumbled about the least-conservative members of the Senate caucus (the two Maine gals and Snarlin’ Arlen before he switched parties). Now it’s the Dems’ turn to wrestle with the least-liberal members on their side. Harry Reid’s headaches didn’t end on Election Day, and his own narrow escape from a highly vulnerable opponent will serve as a warning to members who don’t have the influence and seniority of a minority leader.

McConnell, with 47 on his side and more to poach from the Democratic side, will be a potent force. Prepare to see him run rings around Reid. Chuck Schumer can take some small consolation that he isn’t going to be the victim of McConnell’s parliamentary skills. And a final point: with a working majority of Red State Democrats and Republicans, prepare to see the liberal intelligentsia defend the wondrous filibuster. Just you wait.

As I noted yesterday, the new Senate will have more Republicans and, just as important, many more nervous Democrats. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is thinking along the same lines:

“I think the most interesting thing to watch in the next Congress is how many Democrats start voting with us,” McConnell said.

“Every one of the 23 Democrats up [for re-election] in the next cycle has a clear understanding of what happened Tuesday,” he said. “I think we have major opportunities for bipartisan coalitions to support what we want to do.”

There are roughly three groupings of these Democrats. First are those who already cross the aisle now and then. “Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska has voted with Republicans about 32 percent of the time during this Congress, according to the Washington Post. Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri has broken with her party on about 1 in 5 votes.” Yes, this is deceptive because on the really big issues (e.g., ObamaCare), these two voted with the White House. Still, their proclivity is not knee-jerk agreement with their leaders.

Next are those up for re-election in 2012. “Sen. John Tester, who’s up for re-election in 2012, represents red state Montana. And Senator-elect Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who has to run again in two years for a full term, has already promised to take aim at Democratic policies — literally.” You can add in Kent Conrad. And Jim Webb.

And finally, you have the Blue State senators whose states aren’t all that Blue anymore. “Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin will say goodbye to Badger State delegation colleague Russ Feingold; Pennsylvania’s Sen. Bob Casey and Florida’s Bill Nelson will be joined on the Hill in January by conservative Republicans instead of by fellow Dems; and Sen. Sherrod Brown witnessed the Democrat in Ohio’s Senate contest beaten by almost 20 points.” In short, they risk being shown up by their states’ more-conservative senators.

For years, the conservative base has grumbled about the least-conservative members of the Senate caucus (the two Maine gals and Snarlin’ Arlen before he switched parties). Now it’s the Dems’ turn to wrestle with the least-liberal members on their side. Harry Reid’s headaches didn’t end on Election Day, and his own narrow escape from a highly vulnerable opponent will serve as a warning to members who don’t have the influence and seniority of a minority leader.

McConnell, with 47 on his side and more to poach from the Democratic side, will be a potent force. Prepare to see him run rings around Reid. Chuck Schumer can take some small consolation that he isn’t going to be the victim of McConnell’s parliamentary skills. And a final point: with a working majority of Red State Democrats and Republicans, prepare to see the liberal intelligentsia defend the wondrous filibuster. Just you wait.

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Too Good to Be True?

Republicans will be rubbing their hands with glee if this turns out to be for real:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is gathering input from colleagues as she weighs whether to stay in Democratic leadership and run for minority leader after losing control of the House Tuesday night, according two senior Democratic aides and one lawmaker. … For members of her inner circle, the calls suggest that she may not be ready “to turn the keys over” while she’s gauging the more general feelings of Democrats outside her tightest clutch of backers, according to one of the aides.

Can you imagine? The voters deliver a historic thumping, toss out more than 60 Democrats, and the survivors — in a demonstration of how clearly they understood the voters’ message — put Pelosi in charge of their caucus. Oh, and she is the most vilified Democrat on the scene, and perhaps the figure who appeared most frequently in campaign ads — for the other party.

True, her caucus is now far more liberal — smaller, but more liberal. These are the Dems from the most solidly Blue districts whom no Republican, even in a historic sweep year, could unseat. But even they must have more common sense than to install the pol who became a poster girl for the Obama backlash. Right? I mean that would be like passing  a monstrous health-care bill the public doesn’t want while ignoring record unemployment. Oh. Yes. Don’t count Nancy out quite yet.

Republicans will be rubbing their hands with glee if this turns out to be for real:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is gathering input from colleagues as she weighs whether to stay in Democratic leadership and run for minority leader after losing control of the House Tuesday night, according two senior Democratic aides and one lawmaker. … For members of her inner circle, the calls suggest that she may not be ready “to turn the keys over” while she’s gauging the more general feelings of Democrats outside her tightest clutch of backers, according to one of the aides.

Can you imagine? The voters deliver a historic thumping, toss out more than 60 Democrats, and the survivors — in a demonstration of how clearly they understood the voters’ message — put Pelosi in charge of their caucus. Oh, and she is the most vilified Democrat on the scene, and perhaps the figure who appeared most frequently in campaign ads — for the other party.

True, her caucus is now far more liberal — smaller, but more liberal. These are the Dems from the most solidly Blue districts whom no Republican, even in a historic sweep year, could unseat. But even they must have more common sense than to install the pol who became a poster girl for the Obama backlash. Right? I mean that would be like passing  a monstrous health-care bill the public doesn’t want while ignoring record unemployment. Oh. Yes. Don’t count Nancy out quite yet.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Get ready for the next big idea in the non-peace, non-direct talks. “Why must Gazans carry their sons on their shoulders to their convocations of sanguinity, when they could be walking side-by-side with them, sharing space adequate for the lobbing of rocks and grenades and the aiming of RPGs? I say declare them a state, and don’t bother stopping at the tiny sliver of land that comprises Israel.” Read the whole thing to find out just what kind of state it should be.

Get ready for a slug-fest. Actually, Josh Block may already have scored a knockout. “The average, minuscule amount of support Jstreet claims to pass to their endorsees will again and again be offset by the grief and cost even the most pro-Israel candidates expose themselves to by associating with a group proven to be as duplicitous, deceitful and outright dishonest they have been exposed to be.”

Get ready for her to spend more time with her family. “Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, a co-chairman of the Blue Dogs, told POLITICO on Thursday that Pelosi should not be a candidate for minority leader—a sign that other Blue Dogs are ready to pounce if Pelosi doesn’t voluntarily cede her power.”

Get ready for William Galston to be ignored by the Dems. Again. He tries to tell them: “It’s the ideology, stupid. … Unless the long-term decline of moderates and rise of conservatives is reversed during the next two years, the ideological balance of the electorate in 2012 could look a lot like it did this year.” Do you think if Obama leaves the scene, the trend will abate? Just asking.

Get ready for the Beagle Blogger to freak out, again. “Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals who self-identified to exit pollsters made up 3 percent of those casting ballots in House races on Tuesday, and 31 percent of them voted Republican. By itself, that number is amazing, especially when you consider that way too many people think being gay and voting Democratic are one in the same. But that percentage is ominous news for a White House viewed with suspicion by many gay men and lesbians, because that’s four percentage points higher than the change election of 2008.” First the Jews, now the gays. Only Obama could alienate them from the Democratic Party.

Get ready for more of this transparent slamming of the current Israeli government. “Fifteen years after the Israeli prime minister’s assassination, Israel needs his guiding spirit more than ever.” Why don’t these sorts ever lament the absence of a Palestinian Sadat? And do we imagine Yitzhak Rabin would have carved up his country without recognition of the Jewish state? The only prime ministers the Middle East establishment fancies are the dead ones.

Get ready for some major George W. Bush nostalgia on the right. “When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding. ‘Damn right,’ he said. … In his memoir, ‘Decision Points,’ Bush strongly defends the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks.”

Get ready for the next big idea in the non-peace, non-direct talks. “Why must Gazans carry their sons on their shoulders to their convocations of sanguinity, when they could be walking side-by-side with them, sharing space adequate for the lobbing of rocks and grenades and the aiming of RPGs? I say declare them a state, and don’t bother stopping at the tiny sliver of land that comprises Israel.” Read the whole thing to find out just what kind of state it should be.

Get ready for a slug-fest. Actually, Josh Block may already have scored a knockout. “The average, minuscule amount of support Jstreet claims to pass to their endorsees will again and again be offset by the grief and cost even the most pro-Israel candidates expose themselves to by associating with a group proven to be as duplicitous, deceitful and outright dishonest they have been exposed to be.”

Get ready for her to spend more time with her family. “Utah Rep. Jim Matheson, a co-chairman of the Blue Dogs, told POLITICO on Thursday that Pelosi should not be a candidate for minority leader—a sign that other Blue Dogs are ready to pounce if Pelosi doesn’t voluntarily cede her power.”

Get ready for William Galston to be ignored by the Dems. Again. He tries to tell them: “It’s the ideology, stupid. … Unless the long-term decline of moderates and rise of conservatives is reversed during the next two years, the ideological balance of the electorate in 2012 could look a lot like it did this year.” Do you think if Obama leaves the scene, the trend will abate? Just asking.

Get ready for the Beagle Blogger to freak out, again. “Gay men, lesbians and bisexuals who self-identified to exit pollsters made up 3 percent of those casting ballots in House races on Tuesday, and 31 percent of them voted Republican. By itself, that number is amazing, especially when you consider that way too many people think being gay and voting Democratic are one in the same. But that percentage is ominous news for a White House viewed with suspicion by many gay men and lesbians, because that’s four percentage points higher than the change election of 2008.” First the Jews, now the gays. Only Obama could alienate them from the Democratic Party.

Get ready for more of this transparent slamming of the current Israeli government. “Fifteen years after the Israeli prime minister’s assassination, Israel needs his guiding spirit more than ever.” Why don’t these sorts ever lament the absence of a Palestinian Sadat? And do we imagine Yitzhak Rabin would have carved up his country without recognition of the Jewish state? The only prime ministers the Middle East establishment fancies are the dead ones.

Get ready for some major George W. Bush nostalgia on the right. “When then-President George W. Bush was asked to approve a tough interrogation technique known as waterboarding on September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, he wasted little time in deciding. ‘Damn right,’ he said. … In his memoir, ‘Decision Points,’ Bush strongly defends the use of waterboarding as critical to his efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. He says waterboarding was limited to three detainees and led to intelligence breakthroughs that thwarted attacks.”

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A Safe Bet on the Future of the House Leadership

There is a certain sense of unreality about this piece:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become a punching bag for struggling Democratic House colleagues this fall, but some mouthy members have hit below the belt, raising questions about whether they’ll face a Pelosi punishment after the elections.

Pelosi has blown off the public slights from the likes of Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, who recently said he would not commit to backing Pelosi for another term as speaker, and Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright, who recently predicted Pelosi could “get sick and die” before the next Congress. Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina even suggested that he might run for the position of speaker himself.

But will Pelosi be yanking committee seats or chairmanships after the election?

OK, how many of you think the Democrats are going to keep the majority? Umm. How many think that after the deluge, the Democrats are going to elect Pelosi their minority leader? No, I don’t suppose they will. You see, in the real world, the Democrats sprinting away from Pelosi are unlikely to survive, and if they do, she won’t. In other words, the entire story is daft.

There is an explanation for a story as bizarrely out-of-touch as this: it’s a heavy-handed leaked/suggested piece by the Democratic leadership. The hint comes on the last page (my comment in brackets):

Democratic insiders have already warned members [in silly stories like this one!] that incumbents should keep attacks against Pelosi to policy points, rather than attacking her individually. No specific instructions have been doled out to Democratic incumbents about how to treat attacks on the speaker’s record, according to the DCCC.

And when you’re going to push a nonsensical story that can only benefit political insiders, what better place to do it than in D.C.’s equivalent of Variety?

There is a certain sense of unreality about this piece:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has become a punching bag for struggling Democratic House colleagues this fall, but some mouthy members have hit below the belt, raising questions about whether they’ll face a Pelosi punishment after the elections.

Pelosi has blown off the public slights from the likes of Texas Rep. Chet Edwards, who recently said he would not commit to backing Pelosi for another term as speaker, and Alabama Rep. Bobby Bright, who recently predicted Pelosi could “get sick and die” before the next Congress. Rep. Heath Shuler of North Carolina even suggested that he might run for the position of speaker himself.

But will Pelosi be yanking committee seats or chairmanships after the election?

OK, how many of you think the Democrats are going to keep the majority? Umm. How many think that after the deluge, the Democrats are going to elect Pelosi their minority leader? No, I don’t suppose they will. You see, in the real world, the Democrats sprinting away from Pelosi are unlikely to survive, and if they do, she won’t. In other words, the entire story is daft.

There is an explanation for a story as bizarrely out-of-touch as this: it’s a heavy-handed leaked/suggested piece by the Democratic leadership. The hint comes on the last page (my comment in brackets):

Democratic insiders have already warned members [in silly stories like this one!] that incumbents should keep attacks against Pelosi to policy points, rather than attacking her individually. No specific instructions have been doled out to Democratic incumbents about how to treat attacks on the speaker’s record, according to the DCCC.

And when you’re going to push a nonsensical story that can only benefit political insiders, what better place to do it than in D.C.’s equivalent of Variety?

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No Recess Appointments This Recess

No president has abused the power to make recess appointments as much as Barack Obama. As I discussed earlier, the power has been increasingly abused — by presidents of both parties — as the Senate procedures for confirming nominees have become ever more protracted and, often, partisan. On Sept. 17, Obama named Elizabeth Warren to a White House advisory job that does not require confirmation. But it makes her, effectively, the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a job that requires Senate confirmation. The Senate had signaled that her confirmation was probably not possible.

Perhaps it’s a sign of Obama’s declining political clout, but the Hill is reporting that the Senate will technically not go into recess from this week until after the election. Instead, it will have pro forma sessions on Mondays and Fridays, in which the Senate will be called to order, the absence of a quorum will be noted, and the Senate will then adjourn.

This political kabuki theater was routine in the last two years of the Bush administration to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments, and the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was able to force it this time by threatening to invoke a Senate rule that requires all pending nominations to be returned to the executive branch when the Senate goes out of session for a protracted period unless unanimous consent is given to waive the rule. That would have meant that all those nominations would have had to be renominated and the whole process repeated.

It is to be hoped that the Senate and the White House will end this game by agreeing to a permanent compromise: that the Senate will agree to act on all nominations within a set period of time (say two months) and no longer allow the use of the filibuster with regard to nominations, and the President will agree to use the power to make recess appointments only in cases where the public good requires the office in question to be filled immediately, the reason the Founding Fathers gave the president the power in the first place.

No president has abused the power to make recess appointments as much as Barack Obama. As I discussed earlier, the power has been increasingly abused — by presidents of both parties — as the Senate procedures for confirming nominees have become ever more protracted and, often, partisan. On Sept. 17, Obama named Elizabeth Warren to a White House advisory job that does not require confirmation. But it makes her, effectively, the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a job that requires Senate confirmation. The Senate had signaled that her confirmation was probably not possible.

Perhaps it’s a sign of Obama’s declining political clout, but the Hill is reporting that the Senate will technically not go into recess from this week until after the election. Instead, it will have pro forma sessions on Mondays and Fridays, in which the Senate will be called to order, the absence of a quorum will be noted, and the Senate will then adjourn.

This political kabuki theater was routine in the last two years of the Bush administration to prevent President Bush from making recess appointments, and the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, was able to force it this time by threatening to invoke a Senate rule that requires all pending nominations to be returned to the executive branch when the Senate goes out of session for a protracted period unless unanimous consent is given to waive the rule. That would have meant that all those nominations would have had to be renominated and the whole process repeated.

It is to be hoped that the Senate and the White House will end this game by agreeing to a permanent compromise: that the Senate will agree to act on all nominations within a set period of time (say two months) and no longer allow the use of the filibuster with regard to nominations, and the President will agree to use the power to make recess appointments only in cases where the public good requires the office in question to be filled immediately, the reason the Founding Fathers gave the president the power in the first place.

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Bollixing Up the Escape Plan

House Minority Leader John Boehner took a lot of guff from conservatives for muddying the waters temporarily on the Bush tax cuts. But to his credit, he corrected his course. When the Democrats revolted en masse, Boehner was spared further grief. Well, today he got points for some clever gamesmanship:

House Democrats on Wednesday barely won a 210-209 vote to adjourn the House without extending the Bush tax cuts.

Thirty-nine House Democrats voted against adjournment after Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged opposition to the motion in a floor speech that said it would be irresponsible for Congress to leave without providing certainty on the tax issue. Dozens of Democrats in tough races voted against adjourning. …

Boehner’s floor speech turned the vote on adjournment into a referendum on the tax cuts, which has divided Democrats for months. President Obama wants to extend tax cuts for families making less than $250,000, while allowing taxes to rise on income above that threshold. Many centrist Democrats have joined Republicans in arguing for extending all of the tax cuts.

You can see the ads now: Congressman X voted to go home rather than keep taxes from going up. (“Members who voted to adjourn were ‘putting their election above the needs of your constituents,’ Boehner said in his speech. ‘Vote no on this adjournment resolution. Give Congress the chance to vote on extending tax rates.'”)

It’s really hard to imagine how the Democrats could have handled this any worse.

House Minority Leader John Boehner took a lot of guff from conservatives for muddying the waters temporarily on the Bush tax cuts. But to his credit, he corrected his course. When the Democrats revolted en masse, Boehner was spared further grief. Well, today he got points for some clever gamesmanship:

House Democrats on Wednesday barely won a 210-209 vote to adjourn the House without extending the Bush tax cuts.

Thirty-nine House Democrats voted against adjournment after Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) urged opposition to the motion in a floor speech that said it would be irresponsible for Congress to leave without providing certainty on the tax issue. Dozens of Democrats in tough races voted against adjourning. …

Boehner’s floor speech turned the vote on adjournment into a referendum on the tax cuts, which has divided Democrats for months. President Obama wants to extend tax cuts for families making less than $250,000, while allowing taxes to rise on income above that threshold. Many centrist Democrats have joined Republicans in arguing for extending all of the tax cuts.

You can see the ads now: Congressman X voted to go home rather than keep taxes from going up. (“Members who voted to adjourn were ‘putting their election above the needs of your constituents,’ Boehner said in his speech. ‘Vote no on this adjournment resolution. Give Congress the chance to vote on extending tax rates.'”)

It’s really hard to imagine how the Democrats could have handled this any worse.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A “primer in rotten politics”: Assemblyman Vito Lopez is captured on videotape “threatening a group of old ladies during an effort to consolidate power as Kings County kingmaker.”

A chilling thought: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (who gets his Iraq info from Google) tells us that the Obami will make sure Iran’s nuclear intentions are peaceful before another fruitless round of engagement. “Just when will Iran have to demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program? After they build the bomb as a check on Israeli aggression, perhaps? And anyway, Ben Rhodes is not a national security adviser, or rather, would not be in any universe that made sense. He was Obama’s top foreign-policy speechwriter and was then made a Deputy National Security adviser … for Communications. I suppose it’s possible that he’s not only writing speeches but also dictating foreign policy, in which case it’s time I take my suicide pills.”

A dopey suggestion from Bill Clinton on the Ground Zero mosque: “Much or even most of the controversy … could have been avoided, and perhaps still can be, if the people who want to build the center were to simply say, ‘We are dedicating this center to all the Muslims who were killed on 9/11.'” Because Muslims should dedicate things only to Muslims, you see.

And a noxious analysis by the ex-president of the problem with Russian immigrants in Israel. Maybe he’s competing with Jimmy Carter for the ex-president limelight.

An exercise in self-delusion: Nate Silver says the generic polls don’t really mean that a debacle is ahead for the Democrats.

Another result of “reform” Obama-style: drug companies may hike prices to offset the ObamaCare drug discount. It was supposed to fill “the doughnut hole.” Instead, it may worsen the health-care inflation problem.

A 10-point plan for reducing unemployment: “If we truly want to create jobs, it is not enough to simply berate business to create them. We must address the dynamics that keep businesses from offering jobs and that keep people from accepting jobs. We can use policy to create jobs — we just have to care enough about the jobless to make creating jobs a political priority.”

A sign of a weak president and Senate minority leader: “In the face of a promised filibuster by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Democrats could not convince a single GOP senator to cross over and provide the 60th vote needed to begin debate on a defense spending bill containing the repeal measure. The vote to open debate failed, 56-43, with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) joining all Republicans in opposing taking up the bill.”

An undersecretary of something’s bailiwick? No, the sort of mini-issue Hillary lives for: “She told the Clinton Global Initiative forum that the public-private clean stoves plan, dubbed ‘Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves,’ would seek to install the new, 25-dollar units by 2020.”

A “primer in rotten politics”: Assemblyman Vito Lopez is captured on videotape “threatening a group of old ladies during an effort to consolidate power as Kings County kingmaker.”

A chilling thought: Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (who gets his Iraq info from Google) tells us that the Obami will make sure Iran’s nuclear intentions are peaceful before another fruitless round of engagement. “Just when will Iran have to demonstrate the peaceful intent of its nuclear program? After they build the bomb as a check on Israeli aggression, perhaps? And anyway, Ben Rhodes is not a national security adviser, or rather, would not be in any universe that made sense. He was Obama’s top foreign-policy speechwriter and was then made a Deputy National Security adviser … for Communications. I suppose it’s possible that he’s not only writing speeches but also dictating foreign policy, in which case it’s time I take my suicide pills.”

A dopey suggestion from Bill Clinton on the Ground Zero mosque: “Much or even most of the controversy … could have been avoided, and perhaps still can be, if the people who want to build the center were to simply say, ‘We are dedicating this center to all the Muslims who were killed on 9/11.'” Because Muslims should dedicate things only to Muslims, you see.

And a noxious analysis by the ex-president of the problem with Russian immigrants in Israel. Maybe he’s competing with Jimmy Carter for the ex-president limelight.

An exercise in self-delusion: Nate Silver says the generic polls don’t really mean that a debacle is ahead for the Democrats.

Another result of “reform” Obama-style: drug companies may hike prices to offset the ObamaCare drug discount. It was supposed to fill “the doughnut hole.” Instead, it may worsen the health-care inflation problem.

A 10-point plan for reducing unemployment: “If we truly want to create jobs, it is not enough to simply berate business to create them. We must address the dynamics that keep businesses from offering jobs and that keep people from accepting jobs. We can use policy to create jobs — we just have to care enough about the jobless to make creating jobs a political priority.”

A sign of a weak president and Senate minority leader: “In the face of a promised filibuster by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Democrats could not convince a single GOP senator to cross over and provide the 60th vote needed to begin debate on a defense spending bill containing the repeal measure. The vote to open debate failed, 56-43, with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) joining all Republicans in opposing taking up the bill.”

An undersecretary of something’s bailiwick? No, the sort of mini-issue Hillary lives for: “She told the Clinton Global Initiative forum that the public-private clean stoves plan, dubbed ‘Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves,’ would seek to install the new, 25-dollar units by 2020.”

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The Other Haley

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, head of the Republican Governors Association and making his way onto the list of 2012 presidential contenders, touts the Tea Party–GOP big tent:

On the issues foremost in voters’ minds—the economy, jobs, spending, taxes, debt and deficits—the overwhelming majority of tea party voters and Republican voters are in strong agreement.

That is why it was tremendously important for Republican prospects in the 2010 elections that tea partiers did not run as independents or third-party candidates. To do so would have split the votes of those who know the Obama-Pelosi-Reid policies don’t work and are hurting our economy.

Every Republican should be pleased that these tea party candidates chose to run in our primaries. In the vast majority of cases, their participation was welcomed, even cultivated, by GOP leaders—and rightly so.

In other words, there may be differences in tone and style, and not all Tea Party candidates are ready for prime time, but the Republican Party has sidestepped the fissure that the chattering class promised was coming. Barbour is also canny enough to tell Beltway Republicans to butt out of primaries — and Lisa Murkowski not to let the door hit her on the way out of the Senate leadership team. (“We have no right whatsoever to substitute our will or judgment for that of the voters. Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the GOP primary in Alaska to Joe Miller. Now she’s launched a write-in campaign to get re-elected. There is no excuse for this campaign, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was right to demand her resignation from the GOP leadership.”)

Barbour is not so subtly making the point that it is not in the interests of either establishment GOP figures or the Tea Parties (or members of the former seeking to ingratiate themselves with the latter) to play up the media-created antagonism between the two groups. In fact, the two groups are overlapping — many Tea Partiers are Republicans, the movement’s darling was the VP nominee in 2008, and its greatest salesmen are well-known conservative politicians and media figures.

Barbour has been an uber-competent governor, a successful leader of the RGA, and a savvy analyst of the GOP’s travails and resurgence. Whether he finally decides to run for president and can prove successful remains to be seen. But he’s not doing himself any harm with commonsense calls for unity and a firm restatement of conservatives’ agenda (“creating jobs instead of more massive government, controlling spending and not raising taxes, and delaying and then repealing ObamaCare”).

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, head of the Republican Governors Association and making his way onto the list of 2012 presidential contenders, touts the Tea Party–GOP big tent:

On the issues foremost in voters’ minds—the economy, jobs, spending, taxes, debt and deficits—the overwhelming majority of tea party voters and Republican voters are in strong agreement.

That is why it was tremendously important for Republican prospects in the 2010 elections that tea partiers did not run as independents or third-party candidates. To do so would have split the votes of those who know the Obama-Pelosi-Reid policies don’t work and are hurting our economy.

Every Republican should be pleased that these tea party candidates chose to run in our primaries. In the vast majority of cases, their participation was welcomed, even cultivated, by GOP leaders—and rightly so.

In other words, there may be differences in tone and style, and not all Tea Party candidates are ready for prime time, but the Republican Party has sidestepped the fissure that the chattering class promised was coming. Barbour is also canny enough to tell Beltway Republicans to butt out of primaries — and Lisa Murkowski not to let the door hit her on the way out of the Senate leadership team. (“We have no right whatsoever to substitute our will or judgment for that of the voters. Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost the GOP primary in Alaska to Joe Miller. Now she’s launched a write-in campaign to get re-elected. There is no excuse for this campaign, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was right to demand her resignation from the GOP leadership.”)

Barbour is not so subtly making the point that it is not in the interests of either establishment GOP figures or the Tea Parties (or members of the former seeking to ingratiate themselves with the latter) to play up the media-created antagonism between the two groups. In fact, the two groups are overlapping — many Tea Partiers are Republicans, the movement’s darling was the VP nominee in 2008, and its greatest salesmen are well-known conservative politicians and media figures.

Barbour has been an uber-competent governor, a successful leader of the RGA, and a savvy analyst of the GOP’s travails and resurgence. Whether he finally decides to run for president and can prove successful remains to be seen. But he’s not doing himself any harm with commonsense calls for unity and a firm restatement of conservatives’ agenda (“creating jobs instead of more massive government, controlling spending and not raising taxes, and delaying and then repealing ObamaCare”).

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GOP: No Escape Route for the Democrats

A week after Minority Leader John Boehner’s bobble on extension of the Bush tax cuts, Minority Whip Eric Cantor is making sure there is no doubt about his party’s position: “Republicans unequivocally oppose any impending tax increase. House Republicans have called on Speaker Pelosi to allow the House to vote on legislation that would freeze all tax rates for the next two years.” In short, the GOP is not about to let the Democrats out of the corner the White House has painted them into.

Cantor explains the Republicans’ logic:

The reality is that this tax hike is just one more step along the way to creating an anticompetitive new norm in this country marked by bigger government, less growth and structurally higher taxes and unemployment.

The strategy to achieve the progressive left’s endgame is simple. First comes the provocative class warfare rhetoric. Second comes the vast assumption of government control over the economy. Third comes the growth of government spending and entitlements. And alas, higher taxes on our nation’s job creators and workers.

The only way out of this economic morass is through innovation, entrepreneurship and economic freedom. President Obama’s impending tax increase is not just a hike on a few “millionaires and billionaires,” as the White House tries to frame it. Roughly half of all small business income in America will face a higher rate, making this tax increase a direct assault on job creation and innovation.

But there is another reason for the GOP to hold firm: the Obama maneuver has split his party, made his base uneasy, and made life even more difficult for Democrats in unsafe seats (which is practically all of them). The White House has led its party to a position that is both substantively flawed (the president himself declared it foolhardy to raise taxes in a recession) and politically unsustainable. Bad policy meets bad politics. It has certainly been the Democrats’ pattern in the Obama era.

A week after Minority Leader John Boehner’s bobble on extension of the Bush tax cuts, Minority Whip Eric Cantor is making sure there is no doubt about his party’s position: “Republicans unequivocally oppose any impending tax increase. House Republicans have called on Speaker Pelosi to allow the House to vote on legislation that would freeze all tax rates for the next two years.” In short, the GOP is not about to let the Democrats out of the corner the White House has painted them into.

Cantor explains the Republicans’ logic:

The reality is that this tax hike is just one more step along the way to creating an anticompetitive new norm in this country marked by bigger government, less growth and structurally higher taxes and unemployment.

The strategy to achieve the progressive left’s endgame is simple. First comes the provocative class warfare rhetoric. Second comes the vast assumption of government control over the economy. Third comes the growth of government spending and entitlements. And alas, higher taxes on our nation’s job creators and workers.

The only way out of this economic morass is through innovation, entrepreneurship and economic freedom. President Obama’s impending tax increase is not just a hike on a few “millionaires and billionaires,” as the White House tries to frame it. Roughly half of all small business income in America will face a higher rate, making this tax increase a direct assault on job creation and innovation.

But there is another reason for the GOP to hold firm: the Obama maneuver has split his party, made his base uneasy, and made life even more difficult for Democrats in unsafe seats (which is practically all of them). The White House has led its party to a position that is both substantively flawed (the president himself declared it foolhardy to raise taxes in a recession) and politically unsustainable. Bad policy meets bad politics. It has certainly been the Democrats’ pattern in the Obama era.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Thanks a lot, Harry. A Chris Coon spokesman: “Chris is not anyone’s pet and will not be a rubber stamp for anyone.”

Thanks to the president, who decided his October surprise would be a class-warfare vote on the Bush tax cuts (and the threat that the speaker would be dethroned), Nancy Pelosi has now opened the door to a full extension of those cuts. Minority Leader John Boehner should send her flowers.

Thanks a lot, Joe. The VP lectures the liberal base to step it up. In case they didn’t know, there is much at stake.

Thankfully, every school district in the country would want her: “As soon as it became clear that D.C. voters had rejected incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in favor of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, the talk of the town turned to someone not on Tuesday’s primary ballot: D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Because Rhee’s effort to reform D.C. schools has been so closely tied to the Fenty administration, and because the controversial chancellor has clashed with Gray, speculation is rampant about whether Rhee will stay or go.”

Obama says the poor should be thanking him: “President Barack Obama, responding to a report that the poverty rate in 2009 was at its highest since 1994, on Thursday said his economic stimulus spending has kept millions of Americans out of poverty.”

Cliff May argues that American Muslims should be thankful they live in such a tolerant and inclusive society. Read the whole thing.

Thanks to about 1,600 voters (Ayotte’s margin in the primary), it looks like Republicans will keep the New Hampshire Senate seat. “The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Ayotte picking up 51% of the vote, while Hodes, a congressman, draws support from 44%, his best showing to date.”

Thanks a lot, Harry. A Chris Coon spokesman: “Chris is not anyone’s pet and will not be a rubber stamp for anyone.”

Thanks to the president, who decided his October surprise would be a class-warfare vote on the Bush tax cuts (and the threat that the speaker would be dethroned), Nancy Pelosi has now opened the door to a full extension of those cuts. Minority Leader John Boehner should send her flowers.

Thanks a lot, Joe. The VP lectures the liberal base to step it up. In case they didn’t know, there is much at stake.

Thankfully, every school district in the country would want her: “As soon as it became clear that D.C. voters had rejected incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty in favor of D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, the talk of the town turned to someone not on Tuesday’s primary ballot: D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee. Because Rhee’s effort to reform D.C. schools has been so closely tied to the Fenty administration, and because the controversial chancellor has clashed with Gray, speculation is rampant about whether Rhee will stay or go.”

Obama says the poor should be thanking him: “President Barack Obama, responding to a report that the poverty rate in 2009 was at its highest since 1994, on Thursday said his economic stimulus spending has kept millions of Americans out of poverty.”

Cliff May argues that American Muslims should be thankful they live in such a tolerant and inclusive society. Read the whole thing.

Thanks to about 1,600 voters (Ayotte’s margin in the primary), it looks like Republicans will keep the New Hampshire Senate seat. “The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Voters shows Ayotte picking up 51% of the vote, while Hodes, a congressman, draws support from 44%, his best showing to date.”

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Mutiny in the House

That’s what it amounts to — a full revolt against the Democratic leadership and the president:

In the House, 31 Democrats rebuffed their leadership on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, signing a letter calling for temporary extension of all the breaks and signaling a possible impasse in Washington’s bid to deal with the thorny political problem.

The letter provided the most dramatic sign yet of Democrat jitters over voting for the Obama administration’s plan to extend current tax levels for middle-class earners—families making less than $250,000—while allowing taxes to rise for higher earners starting January.

House Democratic leaders had hoped to use the tax cuts as a rallying cry in the run-up to the election, casting Republicans who favor extending all the breaks as obstructionists and allies of the rich. Instead, the party now faces long odds in passing its tax plan before the November elections. The 31 Democrats, plus House Republicans, come close to forming a majority in that chamber.

It’s remarkable when you think of it — each of Obama’s election gambits, be it immigration reform or class warfare, has backfired spectacularly.

As you can imagine, Minority Leader John Boehner is now greatly relieved after suggesting he might have to strike a deal if a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts was his “only option.” Presto: he’s got another option. (Boehner should be grateful indeed that House Democrats have helped rescue him from a mess of his own making.) And sure enough, his spokesman rushed forth to declare: “A growing bipartisan chorus is listening to the American people, who know the last thing we need in a struggling economy is a tax hike on small business.” Or a feckless compromise with an increasingly unpopular president. So now the minority leader is on board, demanding an up or down vote on the full extension of the Bush tax cuts.

This, or course, is a preview of what is to come after November: an invigorated Republican majority will be joined by Democrats who are no longer willing to carry water for the White House. The result may be a broad-based coalition capable of doing productive things, including repealing ObamaCare, restraining spending, and maybe even reforming entitlements.

That’s what it amounts to — a full revolt against the Democratic leadership and the president:

In the House, 31 Democrats rebuffed their leadership on the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, signing a letter calling for temporary extension of all the breaks and signaling a possible impasse in Washington’s bid to deal with the thorny political problem.

The letter provided the most dramatic sign yet of Democrat jitters over voting for the Obama administration’s plan to extend current tax levels for middle-class earners—families making less than $250,000—while allowing taxes to rise for higher earners starting January.

House Democratic leaders had hoped to use the tax cuts as a rallying cry in the run-up to the election, casting Republicans who favor extending all the breaks as obstructionists and allies of the rich. Instead, the party now faces long odds in passing its tax plan before the November elections. The 31 Democrats, plus House Republicans, come close to forming a majority in that chamber.

It’s remarkable when you think of it — each of Obama’s election gambits, be it immigration reform or class warfare, has backfired spectacularly.

As you can imagine, Minority Leader John Boehner is now greatly relieved after suggesting he might have to strike a deal if a partial extension of the Bush tax cuts was his “only option.” Presto: he’s got another option. (Boehner should be grateful indeed that House Democrats have helped rescue him from a mess of his own making.) And sure enough, his spokesman rushed forth to declare: “A growing bipartisan chorus is listening to the American people, who know the last thing we need in a struggling economy is a tax hike on small business.” Or a feckless compromise with an increasingly unpopular president. So now the minority leader is on board, demanding an up or down vote on the full extension of the Bush tax cuts.

This, or course, is a preview of what is to come after November: an invigorated Republican majority will be joined by Democrats who are no longer willing to carry water for the White House. The result may be a broad-based coalition capable of doing productive things, including repealing ObamaCare, restraining spending, and maybe even reforming entitlements.

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Boxing In the Democrats

It wasn’t a good day for House Minority Leader John Boehner. As the Wall Street Journal editors explain, he smudged up a clear and effective distinction between the parties on the Bush tax cuts, leaving his members dazed:

Republicans scrambled yesterday to regain their footing, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor returning to the winning GOP argument that any tax hike on “working families, small-business people and investors” is a “non-starter.” We hope so. As for Mr. Boehner, this stumble on the easy issue of taxation in the best GOP year since 1994 makes us wonder if he’s ready for prime time.

Fortunately, House Republicans didn’t compound their leader’s error. To the contrary, they moved swiftly to box in their Democratic colleagues in advance of the midterm elections. Roll Call reports:

The top Republicans on three House committees on Monday called on their Democratic counterparts to clear committee agendas immediately and begin work on a bipartisan bill to create jobs by freezing spending and cutting taxes.

In their letter to the chairmen of the Ways and Means, Appropriations and Budget Committees, Ranking Members Dave Camp (Mich.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) proposed the House work to enact a two–point plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years and freeze non-security discretionary spending at 2008 levels.

It’s smart politics — which Democrats are brave enough to vote no or to stall? — and smart policy. What’s interesting is that both Camp and Ryan, two of the sharpest reform-minded congressmen in the Republican caucus (both of whom made a good impression at the health-care summit), are leading the charge. They have figured out that this is no time to be a squish. Elections, after all, are about choices, and this move presents voters with a stark one.

It wasn’t a good day for House Minority Leader John Boehner. As the Wall Street Journal editors explain, he smudged up a clear and effective distinction between the parties on the Bush tax cuts, leaving his members dazed:

Republicans scrambled yesterday to regain their footing, with House Minority Whip Eric Cantor returning to the winning GOP argument that any tax hike on “working families, small-business people and investors” is a “non-starter.” We hope so. As for Mr. Boehner, this stumble on the easy issue of taxation in the best GOP year since 1994 makes us wonder if he’s ready for prime time.

Fortunately, House Republicans didn’t compound their leader’s error. To the contrary, they moved swiftly to box in their Democratic colleagues in advance of the midterm elections. Roll Call reports:

The top Republicans on three House committees on Monday called on their Democratic counterparts to clear committee agendas immediately and begin work on a bipartisan bill to create jobs by freezing spending and cutting taxes.

In their letter to the chairmen of the Ways and Means, Appropriations and Budget Committees, Ranking Members Dave Camp (Mich.), Jerry Lewis (Calif.) and Paul Ryan (Wis.) proposed the House work to enact a two–point plan to extend the Bush tax cuts for two years and freeze non-security discretionary spending at 2008 levels.

It’s smart politics — which Democrats are brave enough to vote no or to stall? — and smart policy. What’s interesting is that both Camp and Ryan, two of the sharpest reform-minded congressmen in the Republican caucus (both of whom made a good impression at the health-care summit), are leading the charge. They have figured out that this is no time to be a squish. Elections, after all, are about choices, and this move presents voters with a stark one.

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No Deal, Mr. President (Updated)

Whatever is going on with House Republicans, Senate Republicans seem to be holding firm on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. In the Washington Post, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was emphatic:

McConnell said Democrats have zero chance of passing Obama’s plan in the Senate. He said not a single Republican would support it, leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes needed to cut off a filibuster. “That’s a debate we’re happy to have. That’s the kind of debate that unifies my caucus, from Olympia Snowe to Jim DeMint,” McConnell said, citing the most liberal and most conservative Republicans in the Senate.

That plan, of course, is a combination of new spending and selective tax cuts while allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. It is not often that Snowe and DeMint are in lockstep, but the prospect of tax hikes in a recession has that effect. Moreover, a growing number of Democrats now support a full extension of the Bush tax cuts:

Half a dozen Democratic senators and Senate candidates have voiced support for a temporary extension of tax cuts for the rich. In the House, more and more incumbents have also taken that position. Among them is Rep. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who represents a traditionally Republican seat in the Detroit suburbs. Peters told the Detroit Free Press last week that extending the cuts “is the right thing to do, as anything less jeopardizes economic recovery.”

Given all that, it is no surprise that Minority Whip Eric Cantor has put out a statement that makes clear he’s not about to allow a tax hike on “small business people and investors. Raising taxes in this environment is a non-starter for me and millions of American small business people who are struggling to keep the lights on and meet their payroll obligations.” Cantor is calling for “Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House — Republican and Democrat — to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American.” That sounds like the emerging consensus for the GOP, as well as for moderate Democrats who want to hold on to their seats.

UPDATE: Senator Lieberman has also joined the “No Deal” bipartisan coalition. He has released a statement that reads, in part: ” I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through. The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be. And that means I will do everything I can to make sure Congress extends the so-called Bush tax cuts for another year and takes action to prevent the estate tax from rising back to where it was.”

Whatever is going on with House Republicans, Senate Republicans seem to be holding firm on the extension of the Bush tax cuts. In the Washington Post, Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was emphatic:

McConnell said Democrats have zero chance of passing Obama’s plan in the Senate. He said not a single Republican would support it, leaving Democrats short of the 60 votes needed to cut off a filibuster. “That’s a debate we’re happy to have. That’s the kind of debate that unifies my caucus, from Olympia Snowe to Jim DeMint,” McConnell said, citing the most liberal and most conservative Republicans in the Senate.

That plan, of course, is a combination of new spending and selective tax cuts while allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. It is not often that Snowe and DeMint are in lockstep, but the prospect of tax hikes in a recession has that effect. Moreover, a growing number of Democrats now support a full extension of the Bush tax cuts:

Half a dozen Democratic senators and Senate candidates have voiced support for a temporary extension of tax cuts for the rich. In the House, more and more incumbents have also taken that position. Among them is Rep. Gary Peters, a Michigan Democrat who represents a traditionally Republican seat in the Detroit suburbs. Peters told the Detroit Free Press last week that extending the cuts “is the right thing to do, as anything less jeopardizes economic recovery.”

Given all that, it is no surprise that Minority Whip Eric Cantor has put out a statement that makes clear he’s not about to allow a tax hike on “small business people and investors. Raising taxes in this environment is a non-starter for me and millions of American small business people who are struggling to keep the lights on and meet their payroll obligations.” Cantor is calling for “Speaker Pelosi and President Obama to allow all members of the House — Republican and Democrat — to vote on legislation that would prevent tax increases for every American.” That sounds like the emerging consensus for the GOP, as well as for moderate Democrats who want to hold on to their seats.

UPDATE: Senator Lieberman has also joined the “No Deal” bipartisan coalition. He has released a statement that reads, in part: ” I don’t think it makes sense to raise any federal taxes during the uncertain economy we are struggling through. The more money we leave in private hands, the quicker our economic recovery will be. And that means I will do everything I can to make sure Congress extends the so-called Bush tax cuts for another year and takes action to prevent the estate tax from rising back to where it was.”

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Planning Nancy’s Retirement

Democrats aren’t waiting for the election returns to start planning Nancy Pelosi’s ouster. Politico reports:

For the most part, Democrats have no obvious roadmap, no heir apparent to the Pelosi mantle, and a fairly thin bench around which to plan the future of their party. After the election, Democrats would face a power vacuum in the lower ranks – assuming current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer takes the helm as minority leader in a post-Pelosi Democratic caucus.

“This is a subject that everybody in town is thinking about,” said a former House Democrat who keeps close contact with his former colleagues. …

“If we lose it badly, Pelosi would have to leave, as might the whole leadership team,” said a veteran House Democrat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I can see Hoyer becoming Minority Leader. And I can imagine that Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) would stay as Whip, but then retire. They could become transitional leaders as we look for new leadership. It would have to sort itself out.”

Pelosi may have peaked on the day she assumed office, as an identity-politics champion. In four years she’s helped drive her party into the ground and our country deeper and deeper into debt. Rather than draining the swamp, she’s coddled corrupt pols. Her “historic” achievement — ramming through ObamaCare — may turn to dust as states opt out of the individual mandate and a new Congress defunds and then sets out to repeal the measure. Come to think of it, that may be Obama’s legacy as well.

Democrats aren’t waiting for the election returns to start planning Nancy Pelosi’s ouster. Politico reports:

For the most part, Democrats have no obvious roadmap, no heir apparent to the Pelosi mantle, and a fairly thin bench around which to plan the future of their party. After the election, Democrats would face a power vacuum in the lower ranks – assuming current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer takes the helm as minority leader in a post-Pelosi Democratic caucus.

“This is a subject that everybody in town is thinking about,” said a former House Democrat who keeps close contact with his former colleagues. …

“If we lose it badly, Pelosi would have to leave, as might the whole leadership team,” said a veteran House Democrat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “I can see Hoyer becoming Minority Leader. And I can imagine that Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) would stay as Whip, but then retire. They could become transitional leaders as we look for new leadership. It would have to sort itself out.”

Pelosi may have peaked on the day she assumed office, as an identity-politics champion. In four years she’s helped drive her party into the ground and our country deeper and deeper into debt. Rather than draining the swamp, she’s coddled corrupt pols. Her “historic” achievement — ramming through ObamaCare — may turn to dust as states opt out of the individual mandate and a new Congress defunds and then sets out to repeal the measure. Come to think of it, that may be Obama’s legacy as well.

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Giving Too Much?

Minority Leader John Boehner was doing fairly well up to now in positioning his party for the election and shaping an agenda. He drew the White House into a spat in Ohio, called for the resignation of the Obama economic team, and put forth a two-point plan (spending cuts and no tax hikes). Then, on Sunday he muddied the waters on Face the Nation:

If the only option I have is to vote for those at 250 and below, of course I’m going to do that. … But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.

Did he let the Democrats off the hook — give away too much? After all, doesn’t he have a shot at ensuring that Nancy Pelosi be the one with only one option?

I suspect you’ll see some push back this week. It is not a good idea to give your opponents an escape hatch and I bet conservatives in and out of office will wonder why Boehner seems to be doing just that. An unnamed Boehner aide tried to explain the gambit:

Despite what Obama says, Republicans are not holding middle-class tax cuts hostage, and we’re not going to let him get away with those types of false claims. Our focus remains on getting bipartisan support for a freeze on all current rates, because that is what is best for the economy and small-business job creation. Boehner’s words were calculated to deprive Obama of the ability to continue making those false claims, and as a result, we are in a better position rhetorically to pressure more Democrats to support a full freeze.

Uh, I think the way to put pressure on the president is to not give him what he wants without a fight. And by the end of the day, Boehner seemed to be toughening up, putting out a statement that read, in part, “If the president is serious about job creation, there’s a clear way forward, and that’s for us to come together and pass legislation immediately that cuts spending to 2008 levels for the next year and stops all of the coming tax hikes by freezing all current tax rates for the next two years. Anything short of that may selfishly check a political box for the president, but it fails the American people.” Precisely right — so it’s hard to see the purpose of his remarks on Face the Nation.

Minority Leader John Boehner was doing fairly well up to now in positioning his party for the election and shaping an agenda. He drew the White House into a spat in Ohio, called for the resignation of the Obama economic team, and put forth a two-point plan (spending cuts and no tax hikes). Then, on Sunday he muddied the waters on Face the Nation:

If the only option I have is to vote for those at 250 and below, of course I’m going to do that. … But I’m going to do everything I can to fight to make sure that we extend the current tax rates for all Americans.

Did he let the Democrats off the hook — give away too much? After all, doesn’t he have a shot at ensuring that Nancy Pelosi be the one with only one option?

I suspect you’ll see some push back this week. It is not a good idea to give your opponents an escape hatch and I bet conservatives in and out of office will wonder why Boehner seems to be doing just that. An unnamed Boehner aide tried to explain the gambit:

Despite what Obama says, Republicans are not holding middle-class tax cuts hostage, and we’re not going to let him get away with those types of false claims. Our focus remains on getting bipartisan support for a freeze on all current rates, because that is what is best for the economy and small-business job creation. Boehner’s words were calculated to deprive Obama of the ability to continue making those false claims, and as a result, we are in a better position rhetorically to pressure more Democrats to support a full freeze.

Uh, I think the way to put pressure on the president is to not give him what he wants without a fight. And by the end of the day, Boehner seemed to be toughening up, putting out a statement that read, in part, “If the president is serious about job creation, there’s a clear way forward, and that’s for us to come together and pass legislation immediately that cuts spending to 2008 levels for the next year and stops all of the coming tax hikes by freezing all current tax rates for the next two years. Anything short of that may selfishly check a political box for the president, but it fails the American people.” Precisely right — so it’s hard to see the purpose of his remarks on Face the Nation.

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Setting the Stage

John Boehner’s timing is pretty good. Today, in a pre-election rabble-rousing speech, he called on Obama to can his economic team:

Virtually no one in the White House has run a small business and created jobs in the private sector. That lack of real-world, hands-on experience shows in the policies coming out of this Administration. … We have been told that the president’s economic team is ‘exhausted’ — already, his budget director and his chief economist have moved on or are about to. Clearly, they see the writing on the wall, and the president should too.

President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council.

He also made other suggestions — retain the Bush tax cuts, veto job-killing bills (e.g., card check, energy tax), and support aggressive cuts in nondefense discretionary spending. And he argued for repeal of ObamaCare’s “1099 mandate”:

The president’s government takeover of health care is already wreaking havoc on employers and entrepreneurs. This is a law that – upon its enactment – triggered the creation of more than 160 boards, bureaucracies, programs, and commissions. By the end of July, Washington had already racked up nearly 3,833 pages of regulations to direct the law’s implementation.

One of the new law’s most controversial mandates requires small businesses to report any total purchases that run more than $600. … What is the point of making employers and entrepreneurs spend $17 billion to send all this paperwork to Washington, where it’s going to cost about $10 billion to log it in and file it away? Talk about overhead.

And on the same day as Boehner’s speech, this news bolstered conservatives’ argument that the economy is still in the dregs:

Housing sales in July plunged to their lowest level in more than a decade, exceeding even the grimmest forecasts. … “Truly gut-wrenching,” said Jennifer H. Lee, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets. July sales were down 27.2 percent from June. It was the lowest rate for existing-home sales, which include houses, condos, co-ops and town houses, since 1999. For sales of single-family homes, it was the lowest rate since 1995.

The chances that Obama will embrace the Minority Leader’s suggestions are nil. But after the November election, there might be something to talk about. Especially if both the economic news and the Democrats’ political fortunes continue to sink.

John Boehner’s timing is pretty good. Today, in a pre-election rabble-rousing speech, he called on Obama to can his economic team:

Virtually no one in the White House has run a small business and created jobs in the private sector. That lack of real-world, hands-on experience shows in the policies coming out of this Administration. … We have been told that the president’s economic team is ‘exhausted’ — already, his budget director and his chief economist have moved on or are about to. Clearly, they see the writing on the wall, and the president should too.

President Obama should ask for – and accept – the resignations of the remaining members of his economic team, starting with Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers, the head of the National Economic Council.

He also made other suggestions — retain the Bush tax cuts, veto job-killing bills (e.g., card check, energy tax), and support aggressive cuts in nondefense discretionary spending. And he argued for repeal of ObamaCare’s “1099 mandate”:

The president’s government takeover of health care is already wreaking havoc on employers and entrepreneurs. This is a law that – upon its enactment – triggered the creation of more than 160 boards, bureaucracies, programs, and commissions. By the end of July, Washington had already racked up nearly 3,833 pages of regulations to direct the law’s implementation.

One of the new law’s most controversial mandates requires small businesses to report any total purchases that run more than $600. … What is the point of making employers and entrepreneurs spend $17 billion to send all this paperwork to Washington, where it’s going to cost about $10 billion to log it in and file it away? Talk about overhead.

And on the same day as Boehner’s speech, this news bolstered conservatives’ argument that the economy is still in the dregs:

Housing sales in July plunged to their lowest level in more than a decade, exceeding even the grimmest forecasts. … “Truly gut-wrenching,” said Jennifer H. Lee, senior economist for BMO Capital Markets. July sales were down 27.2 percent from June. It was the lowest rate for existing-home sales, which include houses, condos, co-ops and town houses, since 1999. For sales of single-family homes, it was the lowest rate since 1995.

The chances that Obama will embrace the Minority Leader’s suggestions are nil. But after the November election, there might be something to talk about. Especially if both the economic news and the Democrats’ political fortunes continue to sink.

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