Some gasped when House Speaker John Boehner dressed down conservative groups this week as having “lost all credibility.” But Democrats were skeptical that Boehner’s comments — and his willingness to allow a quick vote on a budget deal that outside groups hate — represent a turning point for Republicans.
Congressional Progressive Caucus Cochair Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said Republican leadership pushing back against outside conservative groups is “a positive sign, but I don’t think it’s anything more than a momentary sign.”
“That’s because these far-right groups are not going to quit,” Ellison said. “They’re going to recalculate and come back at it ASAP, and one never knows what these Republicans in this Congress are going to do the next time a big issue comes up. We’ve got the debt ceiling coming up.”
Democrats are certainly pleased that they didn’t see Republican leadership giving in to pressure from outside groups on the budget deal, but by and large, they don’t view how the budget deal came together as the dawn of a brand-new day.
“I was encouraged by what [Boehner] had to say, and we’ll see what happens today,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said before the budget deal hit the House floor for a vote. As for whether a new spirit of bipartisanship is sweeping the Capitol, Pelosi said, “I don’t think it’s a one-off, and I don’t think it’s a turning point.”
Sen. Chuck Schumer, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, sounded the most optimistic that the budget deal represented something larger. He cited passage of comprehensive immigration reform, the farm bill, and other legislation in the Senate with a number of Republican supporters as a good sign, and he depicted bipartisanship as something akin to a virus that he hopes will spread through both chambers.
“The House has always been the block, and now the House seems to be catching the let’s-get-it-done fever that has infected a good number of Senate Republicans for the better,” Schumer said. “I hope that it’s a condition that remains with them for many, many months to come.”
The debt ceiling, which will have to be renewed next year, will be an early test as to whether a considerable block of Republicans will rebuke pressure from outside conservative groups, said House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. Many of his fellow Democrats are asking themselves whether the influence of such groups has waned enough to allow basic budgetary bills to get through without a fight.
“If our Republican colleagues go home and they don’t get a lot of pushback, maybe that will encourage them to cooperate more on other issues. I will only believe it when I see it,” Van Hollen said. “I don’t see any evidence that they’re going to stop their knee-jerk allegiance to Grover Norquist’s plan. I don’t see that.”
Conservative group Heritage Action announced its opposition to the budget deal before it was formally announced — and unsurprisingly key-voted it a “no.”
Libertarian-aligned Cato Institute is opposed, and Americans for Prosperity called the deal not just “bad policy, it is bad politics.”
Democrats, and particularly progressives, aren’t thrilled with the final budget deal either, which helps explain their lack of elation over the Republican politics of it. The deal lacks an extension of long-term unemployment insurance, asks federal employees to pay in more to their pensions, and lacks other Democratic priorities. Left-leaning Democracy for America referred to it not as a compromise, but as “a sellout.”
And both sides predict this Congress will continue with the same politics as usual for the foreseeable future.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., a tea-party-aligned member often seen as a thorn in leadership’s side, said outside groups, whether liberal or conservative, should have considerable influence on Capitol Hill. And he sees repercussions down the road for thinking otherwise.
“When those conservative groups say there’s a problem in Washington, they get tens of thousands of people to call in. It’s not fake,” he said. “For any Republican to try and ignore them is dangerous to them electorally. That doesn’t bother the speaker — I think he’s going to retire. But for plenty of others? They’re looking over their shoulders, because these are effective groups.”
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”