Rules Shmools

The House approved the Senate’s fiscal cliff deal, barely:

The House vote laid bare some of the internal ideological divisions to plague the GOP over the past two years. More Republican congressmen (151) voted against the Senate bill than for it (85), meaning that Democrats’ support was needed to advance the final deal. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, took the rare step of casting a vote, and did so in favor of the legislation. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the former Republican vice presidential nominee, also supported the package. But Boehner’s top two lieutenants, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., each opposed the deal.

What this really means is that a longstanding Republican rule called “the majority of the majority” died a fiery death, at least as far as this vote goes. The rule goes back to the days of ex-House Speaker Dennis Hastert and is a policy by which the Republican House leader vows not to bring any bill to the floor unless a majority of the Republican caucus supports it. When Boehner took over the Speaker’s position in 2010 he claimed he would not bring back that policy, though in fact he did and, indeed, strengthened it by requiring the support of 218 Republicans.

Apparently this kind of rule is very common in Parliamentary systems, but we don’t have one of those, and the result under our system is often gridlock. The fact that Boehner was willing to ditch this rule to get something done (and save himself from another “Plan B” embarrassment) is, if nothing else, an encouraging sign.

Now, on to filibuster reform in the Senate. Make it so.


Filed under Congress

20 responses to “Rules Shmools

  1. democommie

    Congressman Boner is prolly gonna lose his leadership job AND it’s likely going to Eric Cantor (P-o-S/VA).

    • I know this has all been a power play between Boehner, Cantor and Paul Ryan. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Honestly as dysfunctional as the Republican Party is these days I wonder if Cantor would get the gig?

  2. Seriously, what do you think of this bill ? A lot of democrats are unhappy. I understand the president has to make compromises, but I think he didn’t get enough revenue.

  3. Actually, I was ready to jump off the cliff.

    • I wasn’t. I thought jumping off the cliff would have plunged us into calamity. The stock market would have crashed today for sure, our credit rating would take another hit because our dysfunctional politics would be on display for all the world to see, plus the higher taxes everyone would have to pay added to the ending of unemployment benefits and other cuts would have been disastrous. I know a lot of liberals said “jump off the cliff, wait for the new congress to get sworn in, fix it then,” but Democrats still don’t have the House so I don’t know why anyone thought the next House would do any better than this one.

      Is the bill perfect? No, of course not. I’m still wrestling with the notion that $399,999 income is now “middle class.” That’s just crazy. And we’re going to have to go through this whole rigamarole again when Congress debates whether it’s going to pay for the stuff it bought last year. Again, that’s just crazy.

      No, I’m not happy, but until we can clean house (literally) in 2014 and get rid of the wackadoodles who are dragging this country down, unhappy is the best I can hope for. It’s better than suicidal.

      • Yes, I’ve listened to the pros and cons… but the way the republicans had behaved before this, I was so frustrated I thought we could go ahead and jump off. ……. I was listening to The Last Word …. He made me feel better.

  4. Jim from Memphis

    SB – Even in Obama’s proposed plan of taxing people with incomes over 200k/250k(couples) the projected revenue was like 1 trillion dollars over 10 years. Meanwhile, our deficit is running at 1 trillion dollars per year. I would like to see proposed cuts from the President or Congress that will get the budget back to balanced. If cuts are not needed, then I would like to see proposed revenues that will close the deficit.

    I am also curious as to the projected costs of the new healthcare act since Congress cancelled the cut in Medicare payments that was supposed to happen (again). This Medicare cut is assumed to be happening by the CBO in every projection because Congress only passes a one year delay in the cut. If we are never going to actually make this cut in Medicare, then the CBO needs to start projecting the costs with these rates included.

    “CBO finds that if current laws remained in place, spending on the major federal health care programs would grow from more than 5 percent of GDP today to almost 10 percent in 2037 and would continue to increase thereafter. The aging of the population and the rising cost of health care would cause spending on the major health care programs and Social Security to grow from more than 10 percent of GDP today to almost 16 percent of GDP 25 years from now. By way of comparison, spending on all of the federal government’s programs and activities has averaged 18.5 percent of GDP over the past 40 years. A PDF version of the presentation is available below.”

    • Meanwhile, our deficit is running at 1 trillion dollars per year.

      So the fuck what. Who cares. Grow the goddamned economy and the deficit takes care of itself.

      No one cares about the deficit, Jim. Certainly Republicans don’t. Never have. All they care about is using it as an excuse to raid the Treasury for their rich friends. That’s all it’s ever been about. You’re such a fucking rube to buy this horseshit.

      • Jim from Memphis

        ” Grow the goddamned economy and the deficit takes care of itself.”

        SB in order for the deficit to take care of itself, the economy would have to grow faster than the rate of growth in government spending. I know we had one year of such growth during Clinton’s presidency, but I am hard pressed to remember any others in the past 50 years. And yes I agree that the Republicans are largely to blame for this problem. When they had control during the Bush years they did nothing to reign in spending instead they increased spending and created new programs that were never funded. All in the hopes of buying votes from the people.

        Is there any level of debt that the United States should not go past? Are we ok running deficits forever with no thought of ever paying off the debt accumulated? Even if we manage to grow to a point where the deficit is eliminated, we still have to pay off the actual debt accrued. Are there any projections from the CBO that shows the deficit gone?

      • the economy would have to grow faster than the rate of growth in government spending.

        Jim, money is free right now. Interest rates are basically zero. It’s an insane fantasy to think that at a time when we’re dragging ourselves out of a global economic collapse (caused, let me say, by the failure of your “free market de-regulation government is the enemy tax cuts pay for themselves” answer to everything), that our BIGGEST problem is the fucking deficit. That simply is not true. Let me remind you of what Dick Cheney, the last Republican vice president, said: “Deficits don’t matter. Reagan proved it.” I guess they only matter when Democrats are in the White House. IOKIYAR.

        Go read a goddamned book. You’ve been proven wrong time and time again. Why on earth do you think you have any credibility? Most especially since not one of you assholes opened your fucking mouths when Bush and Cheney ran up the damn deficit in the first place. Everything was fine then. Tax cuts on the Chinese credit card, why not!

        Go the fuck away.

  5. democommie

    Geez, I was gonna say something to Jim but Southern Beale pretty much said it all–one small quibble.

    When you advise Jim to read a book about economics/fiscal policy you have to make sure that “The Fountainhead”, “Atlas Shrugged” and anything by the Austrian School or the Pauls is NOT part of the suggested reading list.

    • I dunno, maybe Jim will read Bruce Bartlett, Reagan’s former economic policy advisor and one of the founders of “supply side economics.” Perhaps he’ll read this column, where Bartlett explains that when the economy is in crisis and people are not spending and demand is basically at zero and interest rates are at zero, to get the economy moving the government must increase the deficit. In other words, he’s saying Krugman is right.

      These are smart people with degrees in economics and some even have Nobel Prizes. I wouldn’t dare to presume that I, or you, or even Jim knows better.

      Also, I was fascinated by this op-ed he wrote, where he explained how “supply side” economic theory got corrupted and abused by the greed mongers in the GOP. I had no idea the theory was very limited. Or as Bartlett wrote,

      The original supply-siders suggested that some tax cuts, under very special circumstances, might actually raise federal revenues. For example, cutting the capital gains tax rate might induce an unlocking effect that would cause more gains to be realized, thus causing more taxes to be paid on such gains even at a lower rate.

      Some. Under very special circumstances. Not always and forever, amen.

      That was a big revelation. Just how much the thieves and robbers in the conservative movement lied about their own signature economic theory, it’s like, wow. And this claptrap is repeated and no one except one of the theory’s founders has stepped up to say, no: that’s not right.

      But that notion that Republicans live in a fact-free bubble because it feels good to tell yourself what you want to hear is something we’re all pretty familiar with by now.

  6. democommie

    BTW, Soutnern Beale, while it’s true that money is basically interest free for the big boys, it’s just as expensive as ever for the poor folks–and they’re not the ones who defaulted on several trillion dollars worth of debt.

  7. Bernard

    and i never hear a word about cutting defense spending or the 800 military bases around the world or the 300 some odd golf courses the military has. Defense against the Republicans is the only threat i can or have seen since Russia/the Cold War. Defense seems to be an unspoken taboo. oh well, having the Empire fall just like the USSR did due to Military overreach is what the Republicans want, Right?

    • The threat of those steep defense cuts mandated by sequestration was the ONLY reason Republicans voted for the fiscal cliff bill, IMHO.

    • Jim from Memphis

      Bernard – I agree that defense needs to be cut and cut significantly. Just try to get a Congressman to vote to close a military base in his district though or cancel a defense contract with a large corporation in his district. You would think the world was ending tomorrow if that base was closed or contract was cancelled.

      My proposal for cutting defense spending would be to remove all US forces from foreign bases. If a country wishes us to remain, then they would have to fund all of the expenses to keep American military personnel or equipment in their country. There is no reason we need to police the world. Second, significantly reduce the nuclear weapon stockpiles. We do not need more than a few hundred nuclear weapons at most. If we ever get to the point where we consider actually using a nuclear weapon then the world is pretty screwed at that point anyway. Third, discontinue any weapons program that is intended for us to invade another country. We do not need the capability of placing ground forces into another country. There is no reason we need to occupy another country and this has been shown to be a disaster in Afghanistan and Iraq. Size the military appropriately to defend our country from attack. This would mean a strong Navy and Air Force, a missle defense system, and strong border security. I would bet that Defense spending could easily be cut in half if not more and still adequately protect our country.

      • Just try to get a Congressman to vote to close a military base in his district though or cancel a defense contract with a large corporation in his district.

        Is feature, not bug. There’s a reason the defense industry scatters their manufacturing all across the land. One engine will be made across half a dozen different states — each component made in a different place, then it’s all assembled somewhere else. Doesn’t sound efficient, unless you need 12 senators and 30 congress varmints pushing to keep a weapons program from getting the axe. I think it was my own Rep. Jim Cooper who said the Pentagon had become our hometown jobs program.

        I’d much rather our tax money went toward subsidies for green energy programs, which are manufacturing intensive and actually help us domestically. We can get the money by killing those subsidies that go to Chevron and ExxonMobil — oil corporations who clearly do not need it, and haven’t in decades.

  8. democommie

    I play trivia every tuesday night and one of the “teams” I play against is a guy who works at one of the THREE local nukes. He’s a decent guy and pretty intelligent. OTOH, he told me just finished reading “The Fountainead” and now wants to get “Atlas Shrugged” for his Kindle. I didn’t say it, but I felt like telling him that if he wants to be dumber he can watch tv and drink beer.

    • We’ve all read those books. I read them. They’re good books, as fiction. The problem is when people try to translate fiction into real world policy. This is a problem with conservatives, this inability to distinguish reality from fiction. Remember, they used Jack Bauer and “24” as a justification for torture.


  9. democommie

    Let’s also not forget Dan Quayle’s beef with Murphy Brown.

    I prefer to think of Ayn Rand’s (nee Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum) books as dystopian fabble*.

    * Fabulistical babble