House Min. Leader John Boehner said in a speech at the AEI 9/30 that if GOPers “take control in the midterm election, he will try to fundamentally change the way the House is run to give both parties a fair hearing while making their doings more transparent.”
Boehner said he would require “that the enactment of any new program be accompanied by at least an equivalent cutback in another program” in the same bill.
Boehner: “The House finds itself in a state of emergency. This institution does not function, does not deliberate and seems incapable of acting on the will of the people.”
Boehner “placed both” GOPers and Dems “in the cross hairs, arguing that both parties had engaged in the sins of earmarking, overreaching and partisan pettiness.”
DCCC spokesperson Ryan Rudominer: “John Boehner has about as much credibility talking about reforming the system as Bernie Madoff does talking about smart investing” (Steinhauer, New York Times, 9/30).
Boehner: “Members shouldn’t have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. … What are we so afraid of? The more we do to avoid risk and protect our members from tough votes, the more ineffective and polarized the institution becomes” (Dinan, Washington Times, 9/30).
Notably, the speech lacked any reference to Pres. Obama or Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Not So Fast
“Boehner referenced” Rep. George Miller (D-CA) and the “No Child Left Behind” act, which they worked on together, “citing it as example of how” he “would work across the aisle as Speaker.” Boehner “has made this reference to Miller on several occasions now. … Miller is having none of it.”
Miller: “Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. Our work together on No Child Left Behind was one moment in time that has itself been left behind. In fact, our work together on that bill illustrates an entirely opposite point than what the Minority Leader would have us believe. … The fact is, the only bi-partisan moment Rep. Boehner can point to is working with me nine years ago on a bill President Bush had made a priority. Everything since has been partisan opposition to issues of great importance” (Vorderbrueggen, Oakland Tribune, 9/30).
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), on ABC’s “Top Line” 9/30, “said it would be ‘premature’ for members of his caucus to line up behind Boehner” for Speaker “particularly when there’s likely to be so many new” GOPers coming to Congress.
Burgess: “Let’s see what happens. Right now I’ll commit for voting for a conservative speaker of the house. I’m going to try to pick the most conservative candidate that’s out there, and we’ll see what happens” (Klein, ABC News, 9/30).
The Happy Hour Divide
A new Gallup poll released 9/30 underscored the possibility that the ‘12 GOP pres. primary could divide the GOP along the same lines of class and education that defined the ‘08 race between Obama and Sec/State Hillary Clinton.
The poll shows a sharp educational divide between the support for ex-MA Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R). Among potential GOP primary voters without a college degree, Palin ran about even with Romney, but Romney lead Palin among those with a four-year college degree and those with post-graduate degrees, the latter group by almost 3-to-1. Education represented a clear fault line in Palin’s appeal. Historically, such a fissure along educational lines, between “wine track” and “beer track” candidates, has occurred more regularly in the Dem than the GOP.
One senior strategist for another likely ‘12 GOP contender says the growing presence of populist, socially conservative, blue-collar GOP voters is enlarging the opportunity for a candidate like Palin to win the nomination.
Another GOP strategist sympathetic to Romney agreed that the current in the party this year is running toward outsider candidates with the sort of anti-elitist appeal that Palin has emphasized. But, he said, by 2012, that could change.
The strategist: “What we have seen over the last few cycles is that every two years we see the electorate go on one course and then there is a correction. … The correction could be back toward, ‘we’ve gotten that out of our way and what about the electability and competence and who is going to be the Mr. Fix It and can offer some kind of expertise on getting things done or changing things’” (Brownstein, CongressDaily, 10/1).
Keeping Fear (Of Conservatives) Alive
National Journal’s Starobin writes: The Radical Right is back. The movement has returned, if not to the center of American politics, then to some worrisome place not all that far from the mainstream.
Arguments that Obama is somehow un-American, a Muslim and a Socialist are, if anything, intensifying. Such suspicions about Obama are part of a wider and swelling cluster of anxieties of a traditional nativist type, reflected in an earlier age by citizens worried about the influx of Catholic immigrants in big cities in the North. The core nativist question, a staple of the modern Radical Right, is always the same: Who is a real American? For a new generation of politicians, “extremism in the defense of liberty” is again no vice.
An economic recovery, if and when it arrives in full force, can be expected to take the edge off nativist attitudes. But it is very unlikely that recovery will altogether stanch such sentiments. In the first place, the 9/11 attacks remain as a root source of American fears of the “other,” fed by the plausible possibility of new attacks.
On top of the national security and economic worries, a third reality is stirring anxieties among some on the Right. The US is in the midst of a demographic transition in which non-Hispanic, white Caucasians — traditionally the base of the Radical Right — are declining as a share of the total population. The evolution is stoking concerns that white people, once the main source of racism, will become the target.
It’s important to note that nativist sentiments are by no means confined to the GOP or parts of the conservative movement. Indeed, the GOP has the greater historical claim as the party of tolerance, with its founding on an anti-slavery platform in the 1850s. In recent decades, however, nativism has been evident largely in various precincts of the Right.
Today Obama; tomorrow, well, how about Romney? He is a Mormon — and as such, a member of a church that some Americans, notably some evangelical Protestants, have long viewed as a cult and not authentically Christian. Political writer Lee Harris, noting the importance of the Religious Right constituency in the GOP: “I find it amazing that people think Romney is going to get anywhere.”
If the Cold War era is any guide, at some point the Radical Right will bring forth a Radical Left — a reaction to a reaction. But at this juncture, the fever is mainly on the Right. At some point, the fever will break; it always does. The only question, as ever, is what wreckage it will leave behind (10/2).
BREAKING NEWS: Specifics
House GOPers’ Pledge to cut $100B “from the federal budget next year would slash spending for education, cancer research and aid to local police and firefighters.”
“Keeping the midterm-campaign promise would require” GOPers “to cut” 21% of the $477B “earmarked for domestic discretionary spending. … Dems warn that the promised cuts would lead to dramatic reductions in social services across the board.”
Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ): “This would have significant real-world consequences. I don’t see any way there isn’t a hit on college students,” he said. “I don’t see any way there isn’t some hit on local police and fire.”
Programs on a potential firing range: A 21% “cut across the board would take about” $15B from education. A 21% “cut in Pell Grants would take almost” $5B from student tuition. The same cut at the NIH “would take about” $6B “from health research.” Police could lose $400M.
But with such a large deficit and the GOP pushing an extension of the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250K, Dems and GOPers fear “that spending cuts alone won’t balance the budget” (O’Connor, Bloomberg, 10/1).
News Corp contributed $1M this summer to the US Chamber of Commerce, following another $1M donation to the RGA in June. “In the past,” News Corp has “spread its donations between candidates of both parties.” The gifts raise “questions among some media critics about whether News Corp” has “crossed over an inappropriate line for a media company.”
News Corp spokespersons “declined to comment on the chamber contribution, or on whether Fox chief Roger Ailes… had a role in it,” a claim they denied in connection with the earlier RGA donation (Smith, Politico, 9/30).
Don’t Be Such A Nancy
The House GOP camp operation is doubling down on their anti-Pelosi efforts in the final weeks of the campaign, betting that (her) high negatives can serve to galvanize an already aroused conservative voter base.
In the past two weeks alone, the NRCC has released TV ads in 22 House races “either tying” the Dem “candidate to the speaker or using unflattering images.” GOP “opponents are also highlighting Pelosi in at least two Senate races where House Democrats are seeking statewide office,” including Rep. Brad Ellsworth (D-IN) and Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).
Dem pollster John Anzalone “dismissed the strategy, saying that it didn’t work for” Dems “in the past and won’t work” for GOPers now.
Anzalone: “I always remind people that we didn’t win a damn race as Democrats trying to do the same thing against Newt Gingrich in 1996 and 1998” (Davis, National Journal, 10/2).
A Long Time Ago, We Used To Be Friends
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) “is rapidly emerging as a top” Dem “bogeyman on the” camp trail. Already Dem attacks, including a new web ad “Meet The Young Guns — They Want To Privatize Social Security and Medicare” put out by Americans United for Change, “are taking a toll. GOP challengers are backing away from the road map’s specifics.”
Montgomery Councilor Martha Roby (R-AL) “who said earlier this year that” Ryan was “‘offering real solutions,’ now has a page on her website devoted to opposing the privatization of Social Security.” Iraq vet. Jesse Kelly (R-AZ) initially backed the road map and focused on reforming the program, but now says he “would work to protect” it.
Though Ryan may be “the brain” behind the Young Guns’ operation, “they didn’t use any of his ideas in their new ‘Pledge to America’ — and he didn’t attend its rollout last week” (Cohen/Hunt, Politico, 10/1).
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) “said this week he has no aversion to accepting” donations from PACs, “despite a 1998 pledge against it, because of the need to be ‘competitive’ in statewide races.” DeMint “has raised” nearly $1.8M from PACs since ‘05 “including more than” $1M “this year alone.”
DeMint, in his ‘98 camp platform: “Special interest PAC money corrupts our political system because it allows special interest groups to control elections and our representatives. Jim DeMint will not take any PAC money and will fight for reforms that allow only individual contributions to campaigns.”
DeMint said that “the no-PAC-money pledge applied only to his House race.”
DeMint: “I didn’t take PAC money the whole time I was in the (House), but when I ran for the Senate, in order to be competitive statewide, I needed to accept money from the associations and groups that support me. So yeah, it wasn’t a change in mind from my House race, because I could be competitive, but on a statewide race I couldn’t” (Rushing, The Hill, 9/30).
NRSC chair John Cornyn “predicted big GOP gains in the Senate,” 9/30, “saying the party has gotten past its infighting and tensions between Tea Party activists and party leaders.”
Cornyn “stopped short of saying he expects a majority, though he did offer a mocking appraisal of Democrats’ chances - ticking off state after state where that party’s nominee is struggling.”
Cornyn: “I predict that the stormy weather we’ve seen in some of the Republican primaries will lead to a tsunami on November the 2nd” (Gillman, Dallas Morning News, 10/1).
RNC says Palin will hold 2 “Victory 2010 fundraising rallies”: 10/16 in Anaheim, CA and 10/23 in Orlando, FL. “Contributions for the events range from $25 per person to attend one of the rallies to $30,400 per couple for a private meeting and reception with Palin and party leaders” (Shaw, Orlando Sentinel, 9/30).
RNC chair Michael Steele’s “Fire Pelosi Bus Tour” stopped in Fort Collins, CO 9/30.
Steele urged the 100 GOPers present at the rally “to support” GOV nominee/businessman Dan Maes and SEN nominee/Weld Co. DA Ken Buck, “but failed to even mention” state Rep. Cory Gardner (R), a “Young Gun” “the party is counting on” to win a majority in the House. Gardner “has criticized Steele’s leadership” and “didn’t attend the rally held a few doors from his” camp hq “because of a previous commitment to attend an editorial board meeting at the Longmont Times-Call.
A Gardner spokesperson “declined to comment on Steele’s visit.” A Steele spokesperson “said the failure to mention Gardner…. was an oversight” (Moore, Fort Collins Coloradoan, 10/1).
That’s One Scary Duck
Ex-Maj. Leader Tom Delay, on the lame-duck session: “This lame-duck is very, very dangerous, particularly with the kind of president we have right now, who wants to get some things done. And what is going to be the backlash of the Democrats — all those Democrats who are going do lose their seats? And they don’t want to extend the tax rates for those making over $250,000, because they want that $700 billion to spend” (“Your World,” FNC, 9/30).
It’s Teatime Again
National Capital Tea Party Patriots’ Doug Mainwaring writes, for Washington Times: “The Tea Party is the leading edge of a ‘Great Awakening’ in America. In many ways, it appears to have the force and vitality of one of the religious awakenings that have occurred throughout our nation’s history. … It is a living expression of bedrock truth about humanity’s rights and our own human nature - that men and women have a yearning to be free and to self-govern while participating in and enjoying civil society” (9/30).
Ex-House Maj. Leader Dick Armey, on the Tea Party’s alliance with the GOP: “So the big question of this election is — has been, Will the Republican Party get back in step with our constitutional foundations, or will they continue to be, as they have been, unhappily, an unhappy echo of the Democrat Party? That party has completely violated and abandoned the foundation principles of our country to our Constitution, and the Republican Party needs to either discover whether they’re going to be a response to that or continue to emulate the Democrats. If they go back to emulating the Democrats, they will probably go back to losing elections. As it stands right now, they have a chance of winning some significant election victories this fall” (“On the Record,” FNC, 9/30).
Philadelphia Inquirer’s Polman writes: “The Republican Party and the Tea Party will effectuate a political marriage that figures to be as volatile as the legendary union of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton” (10/1).
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