INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is often referred to as the fourth ranking member of the Republican Leadership in the House of Representatives. This strongly implies that she is a member of the house leadership, the decision makers, and as such is at least partially responsible for the policies, legislation and TACTICS pursued by that leadership. She stood beside Boehner and now Paul Ryan at lots of press standups while he is making his pronouncements, indicating approval of the policies and tactics.
While I share most goals of the House leadership, except on immigration, the tactics they use in the hand-to-hand battles they are having with the Obama administration and their Democrat opponents, who are supported by the press, often make them look stupid and inept. Worse than that, they fail.
Five incidents of poor tactics by Republican House leadership, resulting in their ridicule, failure or impending failure pop to mind.
- Dozens of votes to repeal Obamacare, while offering nothing to replace it, makes them look stupid.
- The 2013 Government Shutdown over extension of the National Debt. Lost the battle, inevitable, but missed an opportunity to highlight Obama’s hypocrisy, to help in future battles. EVERY Republican speaking on this issue should have started his statement with something like this, EVERY TIME: “On this debt ceiling issue as on all others, we Republicans always consider the leadership provided by President Obama. In this case we take as a guide his vote against the debt ceiling in 2006, his refusal to even vote on the issue in 2007 and 2008 and his speech in 2008 in which he said that raising the debt limit was irresponsible and unpatriotic. “
- The scandal over the 9/11/12 attack on our Benghazi consulate. For nearly two years they dissipated their efforts by having at least three committees conducting simultaneous investigations. These committees are lightly staffed, with limited investigative tools, so consequently capable of only a half assed investigation when they are being resisted by the Obama administration. Three half assed investigations are not additive, they equal just one half assed investigation. A year and a half later, when public interest had waned Republican House leadership decided on convening a Select Committee to investigate Benghazi that can have the tools and staff to do a full investigation. This delay makes the Republican leadership look inept and stupid. Then the 12 hour grilling of Senator Clinton somehow made her a sympathetic figure when her admissions should have been devastating. How did that happen? Inept stage management. To top it off, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stepped on the lead by a maladroit comment that made the whole thing look like a political vendetta against Clinton.
- The IRS Scandal, where it is now confirmed that the IRS denied, or denied by delay, the tax exemption requests by political organizations that would not have been on Obama’s side. They also attempted to intimidate some of those who filed for tax exempt status for these organizations by IRS audits, OSHA inspections and ATF visits to their place of business. There are also indications that those contributing to organizations opposed to Obama have seen an IRS audit rate increase to 10 times the average audit rate. This one is the most serious scandal, as it goes directly to the use of government power and apparatus to impede and intimidate political opponents. We have already had one senior IRS official plead the 5th and refuse to testify, on the grounds that it may incriminate her, in May of 2013. It has been almost 3 years and she has still not been forced to testify. Failure to compel her testimony, by immunizing her, or by prosecuting her based on the faulty way she invoked 5th amendment protection, shows a lack of resolve by the leadership to pursue this matter. It has been 3 YEARS! This issue also rises to the level to require a House Select committee with a good staff and budget and all the power that it can be granted.
- Passage of the “Corker – Cardin” bill, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015. This bill turned the Treaty Clause of the Constitution on its head. Rather than requiring the Nuclear Agreement with Iran to be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate, this bill requires a vote of approval or disapproval by both houses. Then the President can veto a disapproval vote. Overriding the veto would then take a 2/3 vote of both House and Senate. The House voted disapproval and the bill was filibustered in the Senate, so the President got his agreement and the removal of sanctions on Iran.
The only reason I can think of, other than ineptness and stupidity, for the House Republican leadership to fail to make a maximum effort to resolve the Benghazi and IRS scandal issues is some misguided tactic to delay the investigation and resolution of these issues in order to make maximum use of them in elections. They were not of much use in the 2014 elections and will be of no use in the 2016 elections if Hilary is not indited as the result of mishandling of classified material.
The performance of the Republican leadership in failing to make a maximum effort to resolve the Benghazi and IRS scandals amounts to failing to do the job they were elected to do. If they won’t do their jobs, turn them out, including Cathy McMorris Rodgers.
Approval of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 indicates a lack of the will to fight. All but 1 Senator and 25 House members voted for this bill. There was never any chance of passing a resolution of disapproval with a veto proof majority inn the House and Senate. The Republican Leadership just gave up the fight to have this “Agreement” treated as a Treaty as it plainly should have been.
Either Cathy McMorris Rodgers is partially responsible for the poor performance and failing tactics of the Republican House leadership, or she is just a female prop for pressers. Either way her performance does not warrant a permanent seat in the House.
SUPPORTING FACTS AND ARGUMENTS
While there was a Democrat majority in the House and Senate, in March of 2010 the 2000 page Obamacare bill was rammed through the House and Senate without a single Republican vote, before anyone had a chance to read the bill. It was a little more complicated than that but not much. The Democrats lost the House in the 2010 election 7 months later, in a historically large shift, at least partially due to public reaction to Obamacare. The Republicans maintained their majority in the House and in the 2014 election gained a majority in the Senate.
Since the passage of Obamacare and gaining the house majority the house has passed dozens of bills to repeal Obamacare. Now, with a majority in the House and Senate, using Reconciliation we finaly got an Obamacare repeal bill to the President’s desk, where he will veto the bill. There is no possibility of a veto over-ride.
After 5 years they are taking these votes with nothing to offer as an alternative to Obamacare. The old situation was clearly in desperate need of change, with annual insurance percentage rate increases accelerating into double digits. The problem has been with us at least since Nixon and has not been addressed until being poorly addressed by Obamacare. It has now been five years, I know there are several congressmen who have plans, but there is no agreed upon Republican plan to replace Obamacare. They want to beat something with nothing. It makes Republicans look inept and rightly opens them to ridicule.
The appropriate tactic would have been to develop an agreed upon Republican plan to replace Obamacare, THEN vote to repeal and replace Obamacare. You could vote on that every year or so to keep the issue alive till we get a Republican President or a super majority in both the House and Senate required to override a presidential veto.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN OF 2013
In 2013 the US Government spent $3.6 Trillion. It collected $2.3 Trillion. So it had to borrow $1.3 Trillion, over 1/3 of the budget. We have been running in serious deficit for all but a few years since the early 80’s. This increases the national debt and every year or so there must be a vote in congress to authorize increasing the National Debt. This vote has traditionally been an opportunity for serious grandstanding and horse trading in congress. At some point they decide who can self righteously vote against the debt ceiling lift and the rest of them vote for it and it passes. Everybody knows that the debt ceiling is going to be raised at this level of debt, notwithstanding all the grandstanding claims that we can go on functioning with 1/3 of the budget cut in one fell swoop.
In the negotiations to pass the debt ceiling in the fall of 2013 the Republicans were wanting to defund Obamacare as the price for their agreement to raise the debt ceiling. President Obama and the Democrats were having none of it and would not agree, which resulted in the Federal Government running out of borrowing authority, consequently depriving it of about a third of the money required for the planned expenditure levels. To be able to operate with this shortfall of cash some government operations had to be curtailed – hence the Government Shutdown of 2013 that lasted about two weeks till the Republicans caved under the pressure of reality and public sentiment that was building against them. In the long run I don’t think anybody was hurt by this shutdown and it was forgotten by the 2014 elections, where Republicans made large gains in the house and took control of the Senate. Some press guys will bring it up occasionaly and try to make a big deal of it, but it is over.
With the press firmly on Obama’s side on this issue and it’s potential for hype, the Republicans had only one tactic to use and they barely used it, Obama’s hypocrisy on this issue. While a Senator, Obama voted against the debt ceiling increase in 2006 and did not even bother to vote on it in 2007 and 2008. Meanwhile he made grandstanding speeches condemning the debt ceiling increase during his campaign in 2008. Obama’s hypocrisy on this issue was barely mentioned.
If the Republicans had used the ammunition provided by Obama, the only thing they had, every time a republican got in front of a microphone and addressed the debt ceiling issue, at the start of his remarks he could have said something like this: “On this debt ceiling issue as on all others, we Republicans always consider the leadership provided by President Obama. In this case we take as a guide his vote against the debt ceiling in 2006, his refusal to even vote on the issue in 2007 and 2008 and his speech in 2008 in which he said that raising the debt limit was irresponsible and unpatriotic. “ It would be best if this was delivered with a straight face.
Ridicule is a very good weapon in politics. Constant repetition of this Obama hypocrisy would have generated ridicule. They still may have had to cave with no concessions, but they would have been setting the stage for future opportunities to use Obama’s hypocrisy against him.
This was poorly played by the Republican leadership.
“”””Here are Obama’s thoughts on the debt limit in 2006, when he voted against increasing the ceiling:
“The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that ‘the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.”
In 2007 and in 2008, when the Senate voted to increase the limit by $850 billion and $800 billion respectively, Obama did not bother to vote.””””
On July 3, 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama said this:
The problem is, is that the way Bush has done it over the last eight years is to take out a credit card from the Bank of China in the name of our children, driving up our national debt from $5 trillion for the first 42 presidents — #43 added $4 trillion by his lonesome, so that we now have over $9 trillion of debt that we are going to have to pay back — $30,000 for every man, woman and child. That’s irresponsible. It’s unpatriotic.