Let Them Eat Cat Food

Y’all will recall that GOP presidential primary debate where candidates were asked to raise their hands if they would accept a budget deal that had $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.  Not a single hand went up.  It was pretty breathtaking.

Well, today on “Meet the Press,” House Majority Whit Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said there is no ratio the GOP would accept — not $100 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases, not $1,000 in spending cuts to every $1 for tax increases.

He said, “There are no new tax increases because you don’t need it.”  Translation — “Hey, old people, have you tried some of those new cat foods?  They’re quite tasty.”


How Gerrymandering Hurts GOP

Much has been made of all the safe GOP House Seats, of how their occupants don’t have to fear a general election, just a primary challenge.  Much has been made of how the gerrymandered seats let the GOP keep control of the House even though Dems got 1 million more House votes in 2012.

But there is an enormous downside to the GOP’s failure/inability to develop a strong bench for higher office by electing nut jobs to the House.

You get people in Congress like Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin who don’t just make fools of themselves when they run for Senate, they hurt the party nationally.  Akin didn’t just kill the GOP’s chances of picking up a Senate seat in Missouri, he hurt other Senate races and he hurt Mitt Romney because of his damage to the overall GOP brand.

In the 2014 races, we may see the same thing play out with Steve King in Iowa and with Paul Broun in Georgia.  Their inflammatory and bizarre beliefs will make news all across the country.

All politics may be local, but the politics of crazy has national consequences.

A Smarter Sequester

The GOP’s funding bill that will keep the government from shutting down on March 27 moves about $10.4 billion to the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance account.  The money will be shifted from personnel, R & D, and equipment procurement.

The bill also provides $2 billion more than last year for diplomatic security, along with $40 million more for fighting wildfires, $363 million more for nuclear security, $129 million more for FBI salaries.   These increases are achieved by moving money around.  The bill doesn’t increase funding for Customs and Border Protection from last year, but requires them to keep current staffing and detention beds.

The GOP is doing full appropriations bill for both DoD and Veterans Affairs, rather than just a continuing resolution which works out better for them.  Indeed, defense contractors have been more upset about dealing with a continuing resolution that dealing with the sequester.

The GOP bill fixes some of the arbitrariness of the sequester and makes the cuts more rational.

For more, see “House government funding bill seeks to soften sequester’s blow,” Erik Wasson and Jeremy Herb, The Hill

Beyond Clueless

Ok, so back in 2009, then GOP South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, married and the father of four boys, got caught having an affair in Argentina when he was supposed to be “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”  His wife Jenny divorced him.  Sanford is now engaged to his Argentinian mistress, Maria Belen Chapur.

Sanford served the rest of his term, which ended in 2011.

When Jim DeMint left the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation last year, Tim Scott got appointed to fill his seat, leaving a House vacancy in the Charleston district.  Mark Sanford held that seat before becoming governor.  His ex-wife had managed all of his campaigns.

So Sanford decided to run for his old seat.  Fine.  But what’s incredible is that, although this was not a “friendly” divorce and they are barely on speaking terms, he asked Jenny to manage his campaign.*  As you’d expect, she told him that wasn’t going to happen.

The man definitely has a screw loose, which I guess makes him a good fit for the current House GOP Caucus.

*  “Back on the Trail,” Jason Zengerie, New York Magazine

Speaking Truth to Crazy

Dem Congressman Keith Ellison called Sean Hannity “the worst excuse for a journalist I’ve ever seen.”

Hannity told him, “Congressman, you are a total waste of time.”

Actually, Hannity’s show is a total waste of time, but I watch because I need to know what he and his guests are lying about and selling to those who live in the far-right bubble.

Billionaires and “F” Grades Can Be Good!

In the first election to national office since Newtown, Robin Kelly has defeated Debbie Halvorson in the Dem primary for Jessie Jackson, Jr.’s House seat.  Winning the Dem primary in Chicago means you will win the general, so Kelly is going to Congress.

Kelly had been graded “F” by the NRA, while Debbie Halvorson had an “A” rating.

Mike Bloomberg’s super PAC Independence USA ran over $2 million in ads supporting Kelly, and gun control was really the only issue in the race.

Blame Cantor?

From “How Eric Cantor Gave Us an Endless Series of Fiscal Crises,” Elspeth Reeve, The Atlantic Wire:

“The person who deserves the most blame for the sequester… is not President Obama or John Boehner, but House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. That’s not just because the Virginia Republican wanted to delay a big deficit bill until after the election, when he thought he’d be working with President-elect Mitt Romney, but because Cantor can’t decide whether the best course for his own career is to side with Boehner and more moderate Republicans or with the Tea Party radicals.

“He can’t decide whether to help Boehner negotiate with the White House to pass actual legislation or to undercut Boehner to get conservatives’ support. In the summer of 2011, Boehner had been negotiating with Obama on a grand bargain to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit. Cantor helped kill it.

“From the ashes of the grand bargain rose the sequester.

“Cantor wavered again between helping Boehner and undercutting him in the back during the fiscal cliff negotiations at the end of 2012. Cantor endorsed Boehner’s ‘Plan B,’ which would have permanently extended the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $1 million a year…. But conservative Republicans revolted because there weren’t spending cuts included. Cantor seemed to draw a lesson from this. As the House got ready to vote on a Senate deal to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $400,000, Cantor announced he wouldn’t support it.”

I’m no fan of Eric “Lean and Hungry” Cantor.  But you can’t blame one guy for the disfunction that the House GOP is causing right now.  He couldn’t stop it if he tried.  Cantor is like Mitt — a man of tremendous personal ambition, but not much ideology.  He’s more a victim and prisoner of the Tea Party than a true believer like, say, Michele Bachmann or Louis Gomert or Steve King.  To remain Majority Leader, Cantor must also be a champion of the Tea Party because there are so many of them.  But he does it more out of fear for his future than out of fanaticism.