Turn me loose

It seems to me that with many Republican pundits now rejecting the idea of using the debt ceiling as a hostage, the smart move for Boehner is to turn non-teahadists loose to vote with Democrats on the issue, the way they did with Sandy relief and the fiscal cliff.

In fact, I wonder if that could be the solution to a lot of Republicans’ political problems. They could do the same with immigration. There must be 50 to 60 Republicans who are either unafraid of primaries or at least more afraid of general elections than of primaries. If they all feel free to vote with Democrats on issues where other Republicans’ positions are unpopular, they could spare the Republican party a lot of political pain.

But…WOLVERINES, I know. Still, a pattern is beginning to emerge.






46 replies
  1. 1

    I gotta have it my way.
    Or no way at alllllllllllllll.

  2. 2
    Pinkamena Panic says:

    What’s that stomping sound?

  3. 3
    Another Halocene Human says:

    If Boehner can’t get part of his caucus to form a majority coalition with Pelosi’s moderates (=not Alan Simpson) and the frigging Dem-majority Senate, he’s even more of a pathetic loser than he appears to be on TV.

    If he can’t accomplish what those disgusting Blue Dogs in the Senate accomplished, one wonders what he’s doing there at all.

    I think he’s mulling it. Obama said something today about not giving away the farm to the GOP for passing the debt ceiling. They want pork.

  4. 4
    aimai says:

    Sure that was always the sensible way to go but for a huge part of the Republican electorate the idea that there can be no compromise with evil has just become a constitive part of their worldview. The President has been coaxing the silent middle of the country to come back to the notion that its ok to have democrats in power and making legislation and decisions for the country but its been a tough slog because the republicans in power have really tied themselves to the mast and deafened themselves to what used to be just politics as usual. I mean–sure Republicans and Democrats have hated each other for years but you still used to be able to pass legislation when one or the other was in power. That simply isn’t an option for Republican voters at this point. Its considered a horrible loss of face for the entire party. I don’t know how you come back from that except by pretending every time, as with the fiscal cliff vote or the sandy vote, that you were simply looking out the window while legislation was passed.

  5. 5
    patroclus says:

    Letting the House work its will is an old Sam Rayburn tactic – Republican Speakers are usually loathe to adopt it. The last one I think did it was Longworth back in the 20’s when there was a substantial Progressive wing of the R’s. Rayburn commonly did it on appropriations bills with open rules allowing lots of amendments, but he would also allow things to go to the Floor even if he didn’t necessarily agree with them. He trusted his members and the Senate to follow regular order and things would usually work out.

    Boehner should try it – although the R’s are so authoritarian and top down that it might ultimately imperil his Speaker ship.

  6. 6
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    they could spare the Republican party a lot of political pain.

    This assumes reason, logic, and maturity.

    Not gonna happen. These are the neo-Whigs we’re talking about. They are on the express elevator to the dustbin of history.

  7. 7
    cmorenc says:

    Boehner has a double-edged problem here:
    1) He can try to minimize political damage by suspending the Hastert rule on issues (like the debt ceiling) where the GOP extremists in the house risk doing substantial damage to the GOP brand (and electoral prospects in 2014 and 2016) OR:
    2) He can try to minimize political damage by not suspending the Hastert rule on these issues, and avoid the risk that the extremists who now have de facto grass-roots level control over the GOP will do substantial damage to the GOP brand by successfully primarying enough of GOOPer House members voting with the democrats on these issues with the sort of whacko candidates who doomed GOP prospects for retaking the senate in 2010 and 2012.

    I’m not really sure there are enough bi-laterally “safe” districts where the GOP incumbent is safe from *both* an extremist tea-party challenger *and* a competitie democratic opponent. One risk with gerrymandering congressional districts in states which are closely divided or lean blue statewide is that the more ambitious your reach, the narrower the nominal +R advantage is in a greater number of districts. The GOP got extremely aggressive with redistricting in the wake of 2010, and could find that shifting public opinion and demographics alter the balance in enough of these districts by two to five points to substantially undermine the purported “safety” of these districts.

  8. 8
    NonyNony says:

    There must be 50 to 60 Republicans who are either unafraid of primaries or at least more afraid of general elections than of primaries. If they all feel free to vote with Democrats on issues where other Republicans’ positions are unpopular, they could spare the Republican party a lot of political pain.

    This sounds suspiciously like a description of the behavior of the Democratic Party since, oh, I became politically aware in the 1980s.

    So I think what you’re saying is “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce.” Or something.

  9. 9
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    or at least more afraid of general elections than of primaries

    As I pointed out in a previous thread, one of the long term effects of the GOP gerrymandering their way into more Congressional seats is to create RINOs, because the Reps in those swing districts have to keep a wary eye on their thinner margins of victory in general elections, than would have been the case absent the gerrymanderring.

    The obvious lesson here is that if Congress hands you RINOs, make RINOade.

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    BTW, Doug, a Loverboy reference in the thread title? Next you’ll be telling us everyone is Working For the Weekend!

  11. 11
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    De Facto Majority Leader Pelosi. Well, that is an interesting development.

  12. 12
    Brian R. says:

    Or better yet, the last few sane Republicans could just switch parties and formally become Democrats.

    Then the nutjobs could throw their tantrums all day long.

  13. 13

    @Villago Delenda Est: Working for the weekend only reminds me of the Farley/Swayze Chippendale’s sketch these days.

  14. 14
    ericblair says:

    In fact, I wonder if that could be the solution to a lot of Republicans’ political problems.

    It’s an answer to their near-term policy problems, but looks pretty fatal to any sort of party identity. Essentially the goopers break into two factions: the National Front Loony Party and the Rich People Party. The NFLP’s job is to toss feces at the libbruls and blah people and anti-massacre bleeding hearts while getting egged on by the 27% tinfoil hat brigade. The RPP’s job is to stare into the abyss, vote with the Dems to make the abyss go away for another month, and get yelled at or worse by the loonies.

    The NFLP are happy as pigs in shit with the consequence-free id-venting, but pissed at the RPP for being wimps and sellouts when they could be ushering in the Great Conservative Age. The RPP seems to be in trouble, since they’re Traitors to the Cause as far as a lot of goopers are concerned, and still the enemy as far as dems are concerned. They have no control over the agenda, since with any decent Dem strategizing it means they vote with the Dems or with the crazy nihilists and that’s about it. They’d have some leverage if the NFLP wasn’t totally insane, but they are.

    Now go write a party platform with this kind of arrangement.

  15. 15
    Gravenstone says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Another poster described Boehner as “Majority Whip” for Pelosi. A fitting role for the Orange Man.

  16. 16
    Gravenstone says:

    @ericblair:

    National Front Loony Party

    was read as National Frontal Lobotomy Party. Which would also be apt, and likely an improvement.

  17. 17
    jl says:

    @ericblair:

    I think that whether a Dem and non-insane RINO de facto House majority solves or creates problems for our current insane and lawless version of the GOP depends on how primary happy the insane GOP base and their dead-ender corporate astroturf backers will be in 2014.

    The GOP will have to endure its night of the primary baseheads.

  18. 18
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Gravenstone:

    was read as National Frontal Lobotomy Party

    the Native Sons and Daughters of America Party.

  19. 19

    Interesting tweet from Joe Scarborough on the gun thing from today.

    RT @joenbc House can pass comprehensive gun legislation now and have Boehner shape it, or wait two years for Speaker Pelosi to do it.

  20. 20
    Schlemizel says:

    I’ll be stunned if this works. The risks are very great for the goopers. Even in relatively safe or more liberal districts the teabaggers will not like their Congressmen voting for Democratic proposals – and they are the ones to show up for primaries.

    It might allow the government to function, which would be nice for a change, but it would speed the death of the ‘modern’ Republican party, which is a great thing.

    I don’t see how they can allow it to happen

  21. 21
    Roger Moore says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:

    Native Sons and Daughters of America Party

    I saw what you did there.

  22. 22
    Schlemizel says:

    @Gravenstone:

    There is a phrase to use with your gooper friends:

    Bohner has been Pelosi whipped!

  23. 23

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    I am not able to edit my own comment apparently (FYWP) anyhow I was going to add that Robert Gibbs was on Morning Joe this morning and he opined that POTUS was going to unleash OFA on the guns issue. He said “the NRA has a long list, OFA has a longer one” I hope that is the case.

  24. 24
    Emerald says:

    they could spare the Republican party a lot of political pain.

    Or they could split the party completely into the Silly Party and the Very Silly Party.

    I can see the Very Sillies splitting off to form their own official parTEA.

    Which might be how the Dems get control of the House back.

  25. 25
    NonyNony says:

    @Schlemizel:

    What you say is true, but then there’s this quote from the TPM article:

    So the next morning, what are we going to pay? Do you think we ought to pay the troops? Most people would say, ‘Oh, gosh, absolutely.’ Well, what about those receiving Medicare? ‘Well yeah, that needs to – we need to do that. They’re dependent on that.’ What about Social Security? ‘Well certainly, we earned that. We paid into that.’ And you just go down the line. Most folks, if you really walk through it, it’s not a good scenario.

    That’s a quote from a Republican House member. Pointing out, basically, what every Democrat in the country has been saying for two years about this whole “debt ceiling” idiocy.

    It truly is a rock vs. hard place scenario for the Republican pols with two brain cells to scrape together to form a thought. Pander to the crazy rump wing of the party that votes in primary elections, shut the government down, and then deal with the fallout of not supporting “the troops”, not giving out Social Security checks, not making Medicare payments, and in other ways failing to take care of the constituency who can destroy you if they bother to turn out and vote against you in the general election, or refuse to pander to the crazy rump and possibly get primaried.

    What’s funny is that a lot of teabaggers are going to fit into those groups not getting paid. They just don’t realize that a “government shutdown” means that the Social Security checks that they earned are not going to get paid either. So it’s a double-whammy – the teabaggers may not actually like the results of your vote if you go ahead and vote with the rump, and they might primary your ass anyway out of spite.

  26. 26
    huckster says:

    @Schlemizel: I guess it just depends on how strong the tea is in these districts.

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    I find the House Republicans amazing. The Speaker can’t control his caucus, who despise him. He can’t promise their votes in negotiations with the President. He depends the House minority leader to pass anything of real importance. Yet he has kept his job, if only because of his main rival’s ineptitude when the job was there to be taken.

    It’s too bad this isn’t happening in Britain. The BBC could make an absolutely killer political sitcom out of this.

  28. 28
    aimai says:

    @Gravenstone:
    National Fruit Loopy Party

  29. 29
    Todd says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    The man sounds pissed. He was in a froth this morning, too.

  30. 30
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Yet he has kept his job, if only because of his main rival’s ineptitude when the job was there to be taken.

    I think it’s more because anybody smart enough to organize a coup against him is also smart enough to realize that they couldn’t do any better. The Republican caucus is an ungovernable mob, which is a hell of a thing to have at the core of your government.

  31. 31
    Roger Moore says:

    @Todd:

    He was in a froth this morning, too.

    Was Santorum on his show?

  32. 32
    Petorado says:

    I’m hoping these defections on votes are the start of recognizing the Republican brand as a liability. Right now all Republicans are the same, since they vote in a unified block, making each individual a disposable piece. The only thing that has been mattering to Republicans is purity and strict adherence to the brand. As the brand gets more and more bizarre, there’s no difference between Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock and your local Republican politician. Maybe now the way to hold onto their seats will be the individual politician’s character, and not how much Kool Aid they consumed. With growing acceptance of gay rights, gun safety, and not trashing the economy, maybe it will be better for R’s to be individuals rather than the Borg.

  33. 33
    Citizen_X says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Native Sons and Daughters of America Party

    I saw what you did there.

    Ooh, I did not. Well played, ABQ, well played.

  34. 34
    Heliopause says:

    Is there any kind of provision in House rules for removal of a Speaker prior to the end of the term? I would think Boehner can only go to this well so often.

  35. 35
    eemom says:

    I wanna flyyyyyy

  36. 36
    AnonPhenom says:

    There must be 50 to 60 Republicans who are either unafraid of primaries or at least more afraid of general elections than of primaries.

    Let us start a pool.
    Grouping together all the Hastert Rule Heretic Republicans who: 1)voted with Dems to avoid fiscal cliff, debt ceiling debacle, sequester faceplant and general funding fail government shut down. And #2)Wind-up being primaried from their right flank…
    You must guess how many bug out from the Neo-Confederate party and run for re-election as Dems. And how many will win.

  37. 37
    Doug Galt says:

    @eemom:

    Good to see you again!

  38. 38
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @patroclus:

    Rayburn commonly did it on appropriations bills with open rules allowing lots of amendments, but he would also allow things to go to the Floor even if he didn’t necessarily agree with them. He trusted his members and the Senate to follow regular order and things would usually work out.

    The assumption behind this is that both parties are interested in governing. We know full well the Repups are not, thus, Orange Julius won’t take this approach.

  39. 39
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Petorado:

    I’m hoping these defections on votes are the start of recognizing the Republican brand as a liability.

    In their context as a House member, it’s not. To quote Charlie Pierce:

    They are insulated in safe districts. They are the occupants of a self-sustaining universe of think-tanks, sugar daddies, talk-radio cowboys, and ideological chop shops.

    They can be as batshit crazy as they want to be knowing full well that unless there’s a massive influx of blahs into their district in the next couple of years, they’re safe.

  40. 40
    Todd says:

    @AnonPhenom:

    Grouping together all the Hastert Rule Heretic Republicans who: 1)voted with Dems to avoid fiscal cliff, debt ceiling debacle, sequester faceplant and general funding fail government shut down. And #2)Wind-up being primaried from their right flank…
    You must guess how many bug out from the Neo-Confederate party and run for re-election as Dems. And how many will win.

    I’m wondering how attached Diaz Balart is to the GOP, particularly once Castro is dead.

  41. 41
    Petorado says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    Pierce is right, but I also think that standing on a platform of doing whatever pisses off the Democrats is running out of appeal. Lackluster Christmas sales have to be causing heartburn for the Chamber of Commerce crowd, gas prices dropping about a buck in the past month or so can’t be making the Kochs happy, hearing about SS and Medicare cuts must be making the hoveround crowd nervous, and the never-ending cycle of mass shootings is wearing thin on us all. Momentum seems to ebbing away from the batshit crazy side and toward something more reasonable.

  42. 42
    PeakVT says:

    @cmorenc: …by suspending the Hastert rule…

    It’s not a rule, it’s a “rule”.

  43. 43
    Bill Arnold says:

    @Petorado:

    …gas prices dropping about a buck in the past month or so…

    If the American left-of-center were conspiracy-minded, the high gas prices before the election and price drop after the election would be strong evidence for a right wing conspiracy.

  44. 44
    eemom says:

    @Doug Galt:

    I like your new name.

  45. 45
    Monkey Business says:

    The 2010 redistricting created a lot of R+2-5 districts in nominally blue states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, etc., which is why the Dems aren’t in control of the House right now (despite the American people having voted for exactly that, by a large margin).

    I think the R’s in R+5 districts are scared of a primary challenge, whereas those in R+4 or less are worried more about a strong Democratic opponent.

    Right now, Dems represent districts as high as R+14, whereas Republicans are no higher than D+2, which means that while voters may be nominally Republican in those R+’s, they’re willing to vote for Democrats in enough numbers to put them over the top, whereas Republicans are virtually unworkable in anything other than slightly lean-D districts.

    Long story short, unless Boehner wants to preside over the elimination of the Republican party from California, Illinois, New York, etc., he’s gonna have to cut some of those folks loose from the Tea Partiers, otherwise they’re gonna get killed (electorally speaking) in the general in two years. What flies in R+20 districts isn’t going to work in R+4.

  46. 46
    Fred Fnord says:

    There must be 50 to 60 Republicans who are either unafraid of primaries or at least more afraid of general elections than of primaries.

    There are only roughly twenty Republicans who have any reason to be at all scared of general elections. And most of them have more reason to be scared of primaries even so. Gerrymandering FTW!

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