|If ever there was a cynical, transparent creation in recent political memory, it has to be the so-called supercommittee that’s just imploded in Washington.
From the minute this foolishness was announced, anyone with eyes could see it was doomed to failure. That wouldn’t be just ordinary failure, but, in the words of G4 TV, EPIC FAIL (this cable channel actually has a segment called that)!
So this supercommittee, charged with figuring a way to cut $1.2 trillion dollars from the nation’s budget, came up with nothing.
The traditional rationale is that Democrats wouldn’t agree to gutting programs like Social Security and Medicare, while Republicans swore a blood oath not to raise taxes on anybody, regardless of wealth. And yes, all of that is true.
Yet it obscures the issue at hand. When will politicians start to take their work seriously? When will the GOP move off its agenda of making President Barack Obama look bad so they can recapture the White House? And when will Democrats devise a winning strategy for truly speaking to the concerns of the American people?
From the day the supercommittee was announced, it was doomed to failure and all the players knew it. It wasn’t created with a tiebreaker (a 13th vote- too partisan), and unless somebody was ready to compromise nothing was going to happen. So now the American people have a series of automatic cuts to look forward to just after next year’s presidential election (note the timing).
As is typical of congressional tap dancing, there are now some people who voted to create the supercommittee in the first place who now want to create an out such that the committee’s fail has no consequences at all. They don’t want to see the military budget cut (check and see how many have big defense contractors in their home states), and they’re willing to risk looking like complete hypocrites to accomplish that goal.
President Obama is right to say he’ll veto any attempt to do an end around the mandatory spending cuts. If only he’d gotten hard with these folks a bit earlier.
For those of you who aren’t political junkies, NY-23 is New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Until Recently, it was represented by John McHugh (R).
President Barack Obama chose him for a post at the Pentagon, setting up one of two races for congressional seats this fall (the other is California’s 10th District). Yet NY-23 has begun to capture the attention of the nation’s celebrity conservatives and Republicans like no other race in a long time.
NY-23 is a three way race, pitting Democrat Bill Owens against Republican Dede Scozzafava and Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.
Right wing Republicans like Sarah Palin, Fred Thompson, Michelle Bachman, Steve Forbes, Tim Pawlenty, Dick Armey, and Rick Santorum have flocked to back…..Hoffman the Conservative! Oh yeah, and Congressmen John Linder of Georgia and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas have also jumped on the Hoffman bandwagon.
Newt Gingrich must feel awfully lonely. He’s about the only well known Republican retread backing Scozzafava.
What’s so important about a three way race in upstate New York? Why all this right wing firepower? I’ll hazard a guess.
For Palin and Pawlenty, it’s a chance to burnish their credentials with the conservative base both think they’ll need to run for president in 2012. For the others, it’s a test of conservative strength. It’s a chance to say all is not lost in Barack Obama’s America (you know, the one they want back). They’re banking that voters in upstate New York care about the Bachmans, the Forbes, the Thompsons, the who???
NY-23 is the right on what they hope is the comeback trail. How else top explain why this race threatens to eclipse both the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial contests? Of course, the stakes are high. If all this right wing heft is brought to bear and their guy loses (Owens is currently leading in a couple of polls), what does it say about the true gravitas of the tea party wing of the GOP? Then, on the other side, maybe Doug Hoffman wins. That makes all these right wing Republicans kingmakers in a district most couldn’t find with a GPS. It’s also interesting to hear John Linder in particular bleat about backing Hoffman to end bipartisanship in Washington.
Hey genius, how do you think the seat opened up in the first place? John McHugh, tapped to be Army Secretary, is a Republican! If Owens wins, it will be the first time a Democrat has won the seat in 100 years. No matter what happens, this race has exposed a steel cage match for the soul of the Republican Party.
Do you think it’s worth the trouble, and if so, who will win?
Don’t bet on it. The Republicans have a two pronged approach to dealing with the Manhattan Congressman’s admitted bookkeeping lapses. On the one hand, they would revel in the chaos that would follow if they were successful in forcing him out as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. At the same time, they’d like nothing better than to use Congressman Rangel as a symbol or litmus test in next year’s congressional elections.
Neither will work. They’ve already tried to pass a resolution calling on Rangel to step down.
It failed miserably. Now, one of the congressmen leading the GOP jihad, John Carter of Texas, has had to admit to failing to disclose nearly $300,000 in profits from oil stock sales in 2006-2007.
While some might look at this as the height of hypocrisy, Carter and his friends in the House say they’ll press on trying to push Charles Rangel out as chair of Ways and Means.
As is typical when the pot calls the kettle black, Republicans try to differentiate between Carter’s failure to disclose and Rangel’s.
It doesn’t hold water, and they know it. But they press on, because in the end they have little else to run on next year but the twin fears of Charlie Rangel and Barack Obama. Now be honest. Other than the nonsensical effort to insert health insurance co-ops in place of a public option, what new ideas have you heard from Congressional Republicans?
The answer is few if any. In fact, Charles Rangel has introduced and helped pass more legislation important to the American people than all his detractors combined.
He has admitted to sloppy record keeping. It was Charles Rangel who asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate him, and it was Charles Rangel’s forensic accountants that found the tax and disclosure discrepancies in the first place.
So let John Boehner and John Carter do their worst. Charles Rangel has a distinguished history of service to his country (as a US marine) and his congressional district (take a walk through Harlem if you don’t believe me).
The Ways and Means Committee is one of the most powerful in Congress. That’s why they’re trying to take Charlie Rangel down.
Expressions of support, now a whisper, will turn into a deafening roar. Republicans will have to come up with more than just nit-picking to explain their own ethical problems. And in the end, no matter what you think of the dean of New York’s congressional delegation, he’ll prevail.
That’s what I think. How about you?