If the party that loses can impose its will, why bother having elections?

U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney are pictured during the second U.S. presidential campaign debate in Hempstead, New York, October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Jason Reed

One of these guys won, and the other lost. That’s democracy.

What’s the point of elections? Seriously, think about it for a minute. In the most practical terms, elections are how we, the people select the leaders who—within the boundaries set by the Constitution—will make the laws and determine the policies by which we live. For better or worse, our system is designed to make it very difficult for one party to make significant policy changes unless it wins both the White House and majorities of both houses of Congress. This includes a very large majority in the Senate thanks to the way the filibuster operates now, which is radically different from only a generation or two ago (opponents of Medicare, for example, never seriously considered one).
Behind all the craziness going on in the House that John Boehner so desperately wants to leave is a faction of his party

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The comical cult of Paul Ryan

Not since LeBron James announced “The Decision” to “take my talents to South Beach” have so many Americans waited with bated breath for one man to declare his intentions. Hoping for white smoke from the chimney of his Jaynesville, Wisconsin home, most Republicans and even some Democrats are hoping that Paul Ryan will decide to run for Speaker of the House of Representatives and thus save the GOP from itself.
While Mitt Romney’s 2012 running mate and current House Ways and Means Committee chairman remains huddled with family in his Badger State conclave, politicians and pundits sing Paul Ryan’s praises in almost hagiographic terms. Josh Marshall noted that “a defining principle of modern Republican ideology is that ‘Paul Ryan is awesome.'” Jonathan Chait argued that Ryan “is already the president of Republican America” because “no other figure within the party combines Ryan’s philosophical radicalism and tactical pragmatism.” While

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush

Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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McConnell, Boehner can end GOP’s debt ceiling crisis with same clean bill they gave Bush

Current GOP leaders gave Bush

On Thursday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that the federal government will run out of cash on November unless Congress raises the debt ceiling to increase Uncle Sam’s borrowing authority. Under pressure from hard liners in his own party, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is returning to his role as hostage-taker, threatening to block the debt limit hike unless President Obama agrees to cuts in Medicare and Social Security spending. But a default by the United States, as outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) first warned in 2011, “would be a financial disaster, not only for our country but for the worldwide economy.”
Which is why Boehner and McConnell should simply do for President Obama what they did for President Bush. In November 2004, they gave Bush a “clean,” $800 billion boost in the debt ceiling with no strings attached. With the current annual budget deficits at an eight-year

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Debt-limit deadline moved to Nov. 3, GOP still has no plan in sight

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. November, 2014.

Hey, don’t look at us.

As the House GOP continues to chase its tail looking for a leader, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told Congress the debt-limit deadline has moved up to Nov. 3. By then, the government will need to have raised the $18.1 trillion cap because it will have just $30 billion of cash on hand and “federal bills for a single day sometimes eclipse $60 billion.” Yikes! And if the GOP-led Congress fails to raise the ceiling, absolutely nothing good will come of it. Peter Schroeder reports:

Without a hike, the specter of a default on U.S. obligations looms large — potentially setting the stage for significant market turmoil and dire consequences for America’s financial reputation across the globe.
“The first thing you’ll see is a market reaction,” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, head of the right-leaning American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional

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Cartoon: Conservatives gone wild


Even though the presidential campaign is providing loads of entertainment and maybe even a bit of substantive discussion, the real show is in the House of Representatives. There is chaos in the Republican-controlled House after the far right ousted John Boehner and blocked Kevin McCarthy from the speakership. The right wing nuts are ascendant and in full display in the Freedom Caucus.

The Freedom Caucus is an assortment of the most ideologically-pure right wing Republicans. There are reportedly about forty members, a fairly small number relative to the House’s 435 members. Apparently, if you have nothing to lose and have the financial encouragement from various far right Super PACs, you can refuse to budge, compromise or legislate and lead all the other “establishment” Republicans around by a ring in their collective nose.

The forecast is for increasing chances of grandstanding with a 95% chance of brinksmanship followed by a

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Morning Digest: PPP says, ‘Not so fast, Quinnipiac—Pennsylvania’s pretty competitive’

Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) speak as they walk to the Senate Chamber to vote on legislation for funding the Department of Homeland Security on Capitol Hill in Washington March 2, 2015. Three days after lawmakers narrowly avoided a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security in a dispute over immigration reforms, the Senate voted 58-31 to send a

It’s another edition of our favorite series: Senators on escalators

Leading Off:
PA-Sen: Quinnipiac has painted a dire picture in Pennsylvania for Team Blue, with Republican Sen. Pat Toomey consistently leading his prospective Democratic foes by horrific margins. But with questions about the makeup of Quinnipiac’s samples, we’ve long thirsted for another pollster to go into the field in the Keystone State. And indeed, a new PPP survey finds a very different landscape: Toomey is ahead, yes, but he’s by no means unbeatable:

41-34 vs. Braddock Mayor John Fetterman
43-36 vs. former gubernatorial chief of staff Katie McGinty

41-38 vs. 2010 nominee Joe Sestak

PPP gives Toomey a weak 28-43 approval rating, very different from the 51-27 score Quinnipiac most recently found. Some of Toomey’s weakness is with Republican voters, who only approve of him by a 42-27 margin, but will likely come

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Ryan mum as Republicans pray that sanity visits their caucus

Rep. Paul Ryan at CPAC 2014

Catch ya on the flip!

Paul Ryan is reportedly hiding out at his Janesville, WI, home, trying to ride out the crazy that has enveloped his congressional colleagues. As establishment Republicans beg him to take the speakership and the crazy caucus threatens him, the thinking goes that maybe—just maybe—the GOP holdouts will take so much heat at home over their breathtaking failure as a caucus that they’ll actually come around to Ryan. And then Ryan will come around to them. Manu Raju reports:

Indeed, when House Speaker John Boehner addressed Republicans last week in a private meeting, he told his colleagues to “open your eyes, open your ears” and listen to what constituents had to say about their leadership problems during the weeklong recess, according to several lawmakers.
Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California, said the message from voters has been clear: The GOP needs to get its act together —

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Another Republican admits Benghazi Committee designed to go after Hillary Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference after talking about her strategy for rural America during a campaign stop at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa August 26, 2015.

At what point will there be a special committee to investigate House Republicans spending $4.5 million in taxpayer money to conduct a political witch-hunt?

Rep. Richard Hanna, R-New York, said Wednesday on New York’s’ WIBX 950 said “Sometimes the biggest sin you can commit in D.C. is to tell the truth.”
“This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton,” said Hanna, who is not a member of the committee.

So add Hanna to the list of Republicans, along with Kevin McCarthy and John Boehner, who have committed the biggest D.C. sin there is.
Said a Clinton spokesman:

“House Republicans aren’t even shy anymore about admitting that the Benghazi Committee is a partisan farce.”

That’s been clear for a very long time, but

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Cartoon: GOP House speaker tryouts

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race to succeed Speaker John Boehner last week, shocking the hell out of an already bedraggled GOP. The Tea Party supporting Freedom Caucus, who tortured Boehner throughout his term as Speaker, is obviously responsible for McCarthy’s demise. Rumor is the conservative wing of the Republican party will be holding tryouts for the new speaker. Good luck!

Republicans press forward on their Planned Parenthood witch hunt

House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH) smiles during a news conference after sweeping Republican gains in midterm elections, at the US Capitol in Washington, November 3, 2010.    REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst    (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS HEADSHOT ELEC

Relax—just business as usual here.

Planned Parenthood has now stopped accepting those whopping $60 reimbursement payments it was taking for fetal tissue donations from the singular PP affiliate that was accepting them. But Republicans aren’t taking the bait. Nope. Between their Planned Parenthood probe and Benghazi, who has time to find a new speaker or fund the government? Sarah Ferris reports:

Top Republicans, including outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), are dismissing the move as a public relations gambit.
“While Planned Parenthood and other organizations may try to publicly distance themselves from the gruesome industry of selling of fetal baby parts, today’s announcement does not change the facts of the investigation,” Boehner wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The Speaker’s remarks were echoed by Republican anti-abortion leaders such as Reps. Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black of Tennessee and the chairman of the powerful House Oversight Committee, Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz.

So much

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Well, why not? Dick Cheney for Speaker of the House!

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney speaks about national security at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington in this file photo from May 21, 2009. Cheney, 69, was hospitalized in George Washington Hospital on February 22, 2010 after experienci

The savior of the Republican Party? Really?

From the Department of You Can’t Make This Shit Up*, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-INSANE), on who he thinks should replace John Boehner as speaker of the House:

“Look, these are trying times for our nation. It’s important to have a steady hand on the helm during times like this. I think experience really counts in a matter like this. I think House leadership experience really matters. And as you know the speaker doesn’t have to be a member of the House: So therefore, Vice President Cheney for speaker.”

A steady hand? O-kay. (And somewhere in Texas,  Harry Whittington whimpers …)

*Alternate lede: Just how desperate is the Republican Party?

John Boehner wanted to use the Benghazi investigation to ’cause political problems’ for Clinton

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) speaks about funding for the Department of Homeland Security during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington February 25, 2015. Conservative Republicans urged House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner no

Oops!

Ever since House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy inconveniently admitted that the Benghazi Special Committee was all about damaging Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Republicans have sworn up and down that it wasn’t true. They said McCarthy misspoke (twice!), they said it was inelegantly phrased, that it was inappropriate, with Speaker of the House John Boehner insisting that:

This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be […]
“The American people deserve the truth about what happened in Benghazi.  That’s always been our focus, and that’s going to remain our focus.

Uh huh. Because in Monday’s New York Times is an article—once you get past the tales of Republican committee member’s “Wine Wednesdays” (with special glasses!) and their dreams of monogrammed Glocks—with this little nugget, buried in the 25th paragraph:

Senior Republican officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity

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Hostage-taking Republicans say White House is playing politics with debt ceiling

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks to reporters during the 14th day of the partial government shut down in Washington on October 14, 2013. U.S. senators said they were closing in on a deal Monday that would reopen the government and push back a possible

Really, Susan Collins? Really?

The financial press is getting increasingly jittery about the prospects of not having a debt ceiling hike at the beginning of November. This week’s bedlam in the House has only heightened those fears, on Wall Street and among anyone who is paying attention. Because the U.S. defaulting on its debt is kind of a big deal. A big unprecedented deal.
Note that, as the Fiscal Times reports the “current debt ceiling suspension expired in March, and since then officials have had to rely on cash reserves, shuffling money back and forth, and accounting gimmicks, known as ‘extraordinary measures.'” Extraordinary measures are expiring, and by November 5, the government will have less than $30 billion in cash. But because Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew—and President Obama—have drawn the line at negotiating with the Republican terrorists who would take the debt ceiling hostage, Senate Republicans are insisting

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So what the hell happens next? Here are five scenarios for the hilarious, tragic Saga of the Speaker

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (not pictured) speak to reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington October 7, 2015. McCarthy is vying for Boehner's House Speaker position at the end of the month.     REUTERS/Gary Cameron     - RTS3F0L

You built this thing

We’ve officially reached the edge of the universe, a place so new to us that our telescopes pointed toward the future can barely resolve into focus. But our psychohistorians have been hard at work plotting out five different timelines we could see Congress march down, and here’s what could happen with the House speakership in a post-chaos cosmos:
1) Marlboro Orange. John Boehner stays on as speaker, simply because he’s already got the job—even though he doesn’t want it. But this doesn’t actually solve anything, because Boehner was already facing an attempt by conservative nihilists to oust him from the speakership. Despite the coup’s low chances of success, this kind of attempted fratricide almost certainly played a role in pushing Boehner toward quitting in the first place.

But even if he were to reverse course, who’s to say that these dystopians wouldn’t simply revive their efforts,

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Beltway media ‘shocked’ by implosion of GOP, the perpetual hostage taker of the U.S. government

Rally, person holding sign.

From Day One of the 114th Congress, the House GOP has been an unruly hot mess yet the Beltway media seemed somehow stunned Thursday by the GOP meltdown that ensued after John Boehner announced his resignation and his presumptive successor, Kevin McCarthy, couldn’t build enough consensus among the caucus to actually lead it.
Shock! McCarthy drops Speaker bid,” screamed a headline from The Hill, as GOP lawmakers cried in the cloakroom and reporters seemed dumbstruck to find that not a single House Republican had an answer for the question, “What’s next?”

But the ineptitude of the GOP and their total inability to govern should have been obvious from a trifecta of failures right out of the gate for the GOP caucus, despite its historic majorities. It started with the 25 Republicans at the core of the House crazy caucus who defected on John Boehner’s speakership vote.

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Wishful thinking prevails among desperate House Republicans: ‘Ryan is considering run’

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) listens to testimony during a hearing on

CNN has a breathless report: “Paul Ryan considering running for House speaker.” It’s based on a few interviews with people who say they’ve had private conversations with Ryan and that he’s “looking at it” and “thinking” and “praying” on it. But from the horse’s (or the horse’s spokesman’s) mouth:


It looks as though it’s back to the drawing board for John Boehner, who, CNN also reports, “still wants to ‘be out of here by the end of the month.'” That’s according to Rep. Dennis Ross (FL) who also says that Boehner urged members to “hang in there.” Gee, can’t imagine why Boehner wants out so badly.

House conservatives accused Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) Friday of acting like

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Why doesn’t Paul Ryan want to be Speaker? Say pal, ‘Because he’s not a f**king moron’

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) wipes away tears during his remarks at a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony honoring members of the First Special Service Force at the U.S. Capitol in Washington February 3, 2015. The

House Republicans met Friday morning to see what other crises they can create for national government while trying to find anyone that can get enough votes to become Speaker of the House. They did not find their new Speaker, but all eyes are still on Rep. Paul Ryan, and as of this morning, Ryan is still apparently not interested, and has good reason.

The former 2012 vice-presidential candidate isn’t much more conservative that McCarthy, but he’s arguably the one Republican with the national stature to overcome the reflexive insurrection from the right. So far, no good. “While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate,” the Wisconsin Republican said in a statement on Thursday.
Why not? A Ryan pal offered this explanation to me: “Because he’s not a f—ing moron.” Translation: Ryan has a real future. No speaker has ever been elected

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Gerrymandering made the House ungovernable. Here’s how we fix it

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) (R) and House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) speak to reporters at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington October 7, 2015. McCarthy is vying for Boehner's House Speaker position at the end of the month.     REUTERS/Gary Cameron     - RTS3F0K

Kevin McCarthy and John Boehner—once masters of chaos, now its victims

Goal Thermometer
It’s been an amazing two weeks. The forces of conservative nihilism pushed House Speaker John Boehner into an unexpected early retirement, and there’s a good chance they also played a role in Kevin McCarthy’s equally shocking demise as Boehner’s heir apparent. To say the House is an ungovernable tire-fire is an extreme understatement.

But there’s an even deeper reason for this state of affairs, one that goes beyond the GOP’s endless civil war: gerrymandering. Yep, that’s absolutely right. In 2012, candidates who ran for the House as Democrats won 1.4 million more votes nationwide than those on the Republican ticket, yet Republicans still managed to retain control of the House. That was only possible because they drew a majority of the country’s congressional districts.

With fair maps, though, Democrats would have an excellent shot at returning to

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Paging Paul Ryan! Mr. Ryan, please pick up the Boehner panic phone

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

GOP savior?

Rep. Paul Ryan has been pretty quick and pretty adamant to squelch any talk about him running for Speaker of the House, since Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy threw the House into mayhem by pulling out of the running.

Even McCarthy told National Review on Thursday, “I personally want Paul Ryan.”
But almost as quickly — within the hour — Ryan’s office blasted out a statement saying thanks, but no thanks.

“While I am grateful for the encouragement I’ve received, I will not be a candidate,” he said.

That might be changing.