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The Tea Party Shutdown Movie

Since January 5, 2011, for John Boehner (R-OH), his position as Speaker of the House has been just a title in words not in deed. The words are those of the 1789 US Constitution. The Speaker presides over the proceedings of the House and is the highest position in the House leadership. However, the deed is that Boehner does not demonstrate leadership of the majority party. The Tea Party wing that enabled the GOP to achieve its majority status has also rendered it factious. Once again it has compromised Boehner’s speakership by its handling of a Continuing Resolution to fund the government. Once again, oblivious to public opinion, House action threatens us with a government shutdown.

Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader CantorTea Party Republicans defied their leaders and brought down a bill to keep the government running after September 30 because it did not meet their demands to make deeper spending cuts. In the past, disaster relief rushed out of Congress with strong backing from both parties. Not this time. Instead, the House Republicans made it the focus of a political issue: offsetting the cost of funding the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with cuts elsewhere.

The bill failed. Boehner and his operatives cobbled together support for a slightly different but essentially similar bill. They brought some recalcitrant freshmen on board in video and photo opportunities with the old pros to recite sound bites, and then narrowly passed a stopgap bill two days later.

“We are now watching the Tea Party shutdown movie for the third time this year,” said Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) of the House not passing the CR. “The ending isn’t surprising,” Durbin said on MSNBC. “It isn’t even interesting anymore. They can’t get together the basic Republican votes on the House side to even pass the continuing resolution they agreed to just a few weeks ago, let alone some disaster aid for a country that’s been hard-hit by a lot of disasters.”

A Continuing Resolution is a temporary measure designed to buy time for negotiations to continue when the fiscal year ends. In the past, as with raising the debt ceiling, passing a stopgap was routine business. It becomes necessary when the House and Senate fail to agree on appropriations bills to fund government for a whole fiscal year, as is the case. Tea Party Republicans said they believed their party should push for deeper cuts at every turn. 50 of them signed a letter to Boehner calling for those deeper budget cuts and when those demands were not met, 48 of them voted against their own party’s bill.

So did Democrats, but for different reasons. Former Speaker of the House and nowMinority Leader Pelosi House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters that Democrats believed disaster funds were for emergencies and no offset spending cuts would be acceptable to her members. Asked whether there might be any offset that House Democrats would back, Pelosi said, “I think I answered that question: there has never been an offset for disaster assistance.”

Boehner and other House leaders had to rewrite the measure to appease Democrats and to appeal to the Tea Party wing of their own party. Democrats saw the amount of disaster assistance as inadequate and objected to the Republicans’ insistence on offsetting some of the cost with cuts elsewhere. They remained nearly united against the measure. So, Boehner cracked the proverbial whip with his members and the revised bill passed by seven votes to go to the Senate in time for the House to go on recess.

“The House bill is not an honest effort at compromise,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). “It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate.” Saying that he had hoped House Republicans would move toward the middle Reid said, “Instead, they moved even further toward the Tea Party.” The Senate voted 59 to 36 to table the House bill, which effectively killed it.

The funding for the federal government got wrapped up into the debate about FEMA funding and they became tied together. Speaker Boehner had assumed and hoped that the stopgap bill to keep government operating until November 18 would be a routine matter, as such resolutions usually are. Instead, the matter blew up and illustrated that his control of the House majority only exists on paper.

About Tommy Mack

Tommy Mack began his career in broadcasting and is a US Army graduate of the Defense Information School. He worked in Army Public and Command Information and earned a BS in Liberal Studies from the State University of New York, Albany. A marketing communications executive, Tommy became a business management consultant for a major international consulting company and its affiliates before establishing Tommy Mack Organization, a business consulting practice specializing in organization and communications management. A professional writer and blogger, he writes about politics, business, and culture.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    There’ve been a number of different entities over the course of US history called the Progressive Party: the “Bull Moose” party was the nickname for Roosevelt’s incarnation of it.

    TR survived an assassination attempt in the early stages of his 1912 presidential bid thanks to a 50-page speech he’d stuffed into his jacket pocket, which slowed down the bullet enough that it didn’t penetrate any of his vital organs. In fact, he carried on and delivered the speech anyway, which isn’t something you can picture any of today’s sorry lot doing.

    When asked later if the injury might render him unable to cope with the strain of a presidential campaign, he famously declared, “I’m as fit as a bull moose!” – hence the nickname.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Not to mention TR’s national parks legacy.

  • Cannonshop

    #46 Glenn, I sat in the desert, and friends of mine sat in ships offshore, and we held that country under seige for long after Bush 1 “declared victory”.

    We were “enforcing sanctions” while we watched the late Saddam Hussein gas thousands of people-admittedly his own-that Bush Sr. incited to rebel against him.

    For MOST of us, the war wasn’t really over, we kept wondering when we would be allowed to either LEAVE the theatre, or finish the bastard off-preferably before he got around to finishing off the folks WE incited to rebel against him.

    Anyone with multiple 179 1/2 day tours in the Gulf region, that war wasn’t ‘over’ even as far as the war in Korea (which is still going on, a cease-fire is not peace.)

    From the perspective of the guys who had to sit there and starve those people out, it wasn’t over, it was just a siege with a different name. Split political hairs all you want, when USN personnel are tossing refrigerators into the ocean to enforce ‘sanctions’, that’s not ‘peace’, when Army ADA personnel are sitting there wishing the choppers dropping Sarin would just ONCE deviate from their corridor into no-fly space, that is also not peace.

    I don’t know what you civilized types call it, but it is NOT peace, no matter how much the elected stuffed-shirt claims it is.

  • Cannonshop

    #48 instead of conflicting interests that might cancel one another out, you mean?

    I find it far less threatening to have teh power-mongers at one another’s throats, than forcing them to work together to screw the rest of us over.

    Think about how Military Procurement actually works-and how often Procurement officers get plum no-work-high-pay-jobs at the companies that seek contracts, and you’ll see the exact pattern your “Electoral Funding Board” will follow-instead of Unions, Super-Rich and Corps having to disclose exact numbers and money, you end up with a situation where the Mandarins take ‘delayed bribes’ to put candidates who’ll play ball in a favoured position-the only difference in your treatment, is how much LESS influence, in the end, constituents will actually have.

    Any time you create a new, centralized source of political power (and this would be SO centralized), you do two things:

    1. You attract the corrupt to it.

    2. It corrupts the people in the mechanism.

    Seriously, who mans this, who selects the decision-makers who distribute the funding in your Public Funding structure, who decides which candidates are ‘serious’ and deserve funds, and which are jokes? It won’t be the voters. Your treatment of a single symptom just makes the disease worse…and harder to treat.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    I was there, too, guy. What we were doing is what any nation does AFTER a war. FYI, after a war, no nation just picks up and leave. Read all the history you want, and you’ll find that almost without exception, wars end when combat operations end.

    Of course you’re entitled to your opinion – but I’m getting used to those who readily ignore science or education or history just so they can say something different from what us eeeeeevil liberals say.

    BTW – do you realize that – by your metric – WWII STILL isn’t over since we still have bases on our side of what used to be the Iron Curtain, since our bases are there to ostensibly ‘protect’ Western Europe?

    And you never did address the small matter of Bush Jr. calling a cabinet meeting during his very first week in office on going to war with Iraq. Of course that might raise some…uncomfortable questions for you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop #54 –

    That entire diatribe is your assumption – and that’s all it will ever be since you’re:

    (1) assuming that big business and the unions would somehow work together to ‘screw the rest of us over’. Your assumption is based on zero fact, zero history. What WOULD happen is that the unions would be significantly stronger because individual voters – when they’re not under the thumb of Big Business – tend to vote pro-union. The unions would love for America to have only publicly-financed politics!

    (2) complaining about “delayed bribes” – but they’re the norm RIGHT NOW…and since it’s the norm RIGHT NOW, exactly how is it going to get worse with only publicly-finance campaigns????

    FYI, my friend who just left Immigration was a District Adjudicating Officer – his skills and experience are worth a lot of money. But he’s not allowed to work in anything related to immigration for two years. This is the kind of system we need in place for ALL high-ranking government officials.

    But you’re afraid that there will be a revolving door between Congress and the lobbying industry. Problem is, Cannonshop, that revolving door is ALREADY THERE.

  • http://tmackorg.com/ Tommy Mack

    Civilian bureaucrats in charge of a professional military have been a conundrum ever since George Washington put on a uniform and became a General officer. Elected bureaucrats are what elections produce.

    Meanwhile, the next Republican government shutdown threat will be on November 18, when the new temporary spending bill runs out. When it does, the GOP will likely link funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and for nutrition programs for low-income women and children to the next stopgap measure. Call it déjà vu all over again.

    If they are successful in the 2012 election, the use of our military will suffer the fate of any other budget chip.

    Tommy

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/dr-dreadful/ Dr Dreadful

    Civilian bureaucrats in charge of a professional military have been a conundrum ever since George Washington put on a uniform and became a General officer.

    Yeah, but it wasn’t as much of an issue in Washington’s day, when the divide between civilian and soldier was not as stark as it is now. Washington, though at heart a country gentleman, knew soldiering and had spent a significant part of his life on military campaigns.

    That lack of distinction is why the Founding Fathers regarded a quickly mobilizable militia as crucial to national defence. For one thing it was a lot cheaper than a standing army and for another, its members could largely be relied upon to know how to fight already.

    Let’s also keep in mind that Washington wasn’t that far removed in history from the era in which rulers were soldiers, and personally led armies into battle.

  • Cannonshop

    #55 Not really, Glenn. The questions aren’t uncomfortable to me, I knew a lot of people who wanted to get rid of the monster we put in Iraq, just like we did in Panama, You may believe it or not at your leisure, but a LOT of people outside of the beltway considered leaving Hussein in power to be a truly bad idea.

    Some of those folks even belong to YOUR party. Some of them INSIDE the Beltway were telling Clinton that Saddam was making nasties he wasn’t supposed to have…

    But the Iraq war and the politics surrounding it are a sideshow issue here, Glenn. Let’s get back on topic-or rather, back on a topic that we can actually discuss without getting mutually abusive, shall we?

    Let’s address your points in post #56:

    1) They already do. Albeit not with any sort of willing show of it, and often without meaning to, but they already DO work (and contribute) together in the political arena against the rest of the people for their own advantage. I’m not talking so much about unions that actually represent the interests of their members, I’m talking about Union Leadership that uses the members as a lever and a food source. Recall, Glenn, I AM active in a Labor Union, and have worked as Union worker in more than one industry, and as a Union worker in several different places-from Laborer’s to Carpenter’s to Teamsters and now as an Aircraft Machinist. I have some experience WITHIN the world of Unions. Some represent the interests of their members, but others are basically just extensions of the Political Class-extensions that take members’ dues, and spend them on electing people who put those members out of work with Regulations and taxes generated as unintended consequences of stances held in unrelated (cosmetically) areas.

    But, per the Beck decision, the Union must obtain the conscious and willing consent of members before spending their money on an Election, so I don’t have a problem with that (though I do have a problem with ‘leaders’ who can’t see past the end of their nose and don’t recognize that a pol might talk a good game of supporting unions, but said pol will do everything otherwise to make sure there are no union jobs outside of government offices otherwise. At least a Republican won’t pretend to be your friend while plotting your trip to the Unemployment office.)

    I’ve worked in non-union shops where the owner was down under the house hanging duct with the rest of us and eating top-ramen while we took home more than he did, and Union shops where the steward/business rep went golfing with the owners and the site was an OSHA nightmare with rolling personnel changes, and I’ve worked in Union shops where the old guys didn’t do any work because the boss was frightened to demand it (that place didn’t last long after I left), and in union shops where things actually WORKED.

    A Union is a representation of the involvement of the members-good ones have involved, alert, and informed membership that will hold their leaders and representatives accountable, and bad ones are often led by demagogues and snake-oil merchants.

    But it’s a good model for what I’m trying to get across to you: It’s NOT THE MONEY.

    It’s the VOTERS.

    As long as the voters will fall for snake-oil and free stuff, we’re going to continue to have the problem we have, and no amount of ‘campaign finance reform’ is going to fix it.

    and you didn’t answer my question: Who chooses who gets to dole the money out? How are they to be chosen, and how are you going to keep them from becoming just-another-layer-of-corruption?

    It’s the fundamental flaw that you’re ignoring, the unintended and un-hoped-for negative outcome that, given other such boards, is inevitable. It will either end up being more power to the Party leaderships (thus making ANY chance of serious internal change and adaptation impossible), or it will be Mandarins from the Civil Service-whom will always end up being just as bad as the system you’re proposing to replace, only less vulnerable to legal consequence, and more buffered from practical consequence.

    I had a Campaign Reform fantasy too: Make it the law that in order to contribute, one must meet Residency Requirements in the district, State, or Country where one is spending the money, dependent on the level of the election. So, for instance, to influence elections in, say, Bremerton, for instance, Boeing would need an office in BREMERTON, same if Greenpeace, the UAW, NRA/ILA or somesuch wanted to contribute money in, say, Marysville Wa.-they’d need to have a 24 hour facility IN MARYSVILLE.

    Neat fantasy, huh? Can you find the weak spot, ’cause I found it…

    The weakness is the 1st Amendment and Supreme Court case law that treats political contributions as political speech, and thus protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution.

    Eliminating all access, as you propose, is limiting the political speech rights of individuals and non-individual entities, equally.

    A broader offense is still an offense, Glenn.

    Neither of our “reform fantasies” however, addresses the real problem-that problem being that in a media saturated culture where displaying education is socially reviled, the collective of the people have chosen to be what Trial Lawyers might call “Good Jury choices”-that is, easily manipulated by repetition and appeals to emotion, particularly those appeals crafted by social scientists in the employ of Advertising Agencies.

    Neither your fix, nor my fix, will actually fix the problem-Yours hides it from the public eye, mine simply changes the address.

    The REAL fix, is an aware Public that votes with their head, and that doesn’t seem all that likely to happen in a climate where we register everyone with a driver’s license, resident or not, then let them not show up to prove they’re alive, then let voters register their place of residence as the Elections office, and vote without having to prove they are…y’know, THEM.

    When people CARE about voting, they tend to spend it with great care, and seriousness, if they have to work for it, they’ll value it more than if they are simply given it-you have kids, how many things did you give them, as gifts, that lasted more than the time it took them to forget, vs. how many things did you make them EARN, and thus they treasured?

    People, in my limited experience, tend to work that way. As long as elections are frivolities, a circus, a sporting event, something unserious to the majority of voters, we’re going to get MORE GW Bush’s, and MORE Barack H. Obamas, and LESS Harry Trumans, John Kennedys, and Teddy Roosevelts.