The Weiner Component V.2 #16 – The Great Presidential Cover-up(s)

In 1968 former Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon ran for the presidency of the United States on the Republican ticket.  It was the second time he attempted to attain that position.  In 1960 he had run against John Fitzgerald Kennedy and lost by less than one percent of the vote.

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the U...

Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

President Lyndon B. Johnson had announced that he would not run for another term as President.  After a tumultuous Convention the Democrats had chosen Hubert Humphrey and the Southern states of America also ran a third party candidate, George Wallace, whose platform tended to be against integration of the public schools and civil rights for Blacks.  Nixon’s platform, among other things, was that he would end the Viet Nam War and the United States would withdraw with honor from Viet Nam.  Nixon also campaigned as the law and order candidate.  Martin Luther King Jr, and Robert Kennedy while campaigning for the presidency, had been assassinated.  It was a highly dramatic time in the history of the nation, with the anti-Viet Nam War Movement having reached a high point.

 

Nixon carried 32 states with 301 electoral votes, and a popular vote of 31,783,783; Humphrey had 13 states plus Washington, D.C., 191 electoral votes, and 31,271,839 popular votes; and Wallace had 5 states, 46 electoral votes, and 9,901,118 popular votes.  This was the first election after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that had led to the mass enfranchisement of racial minorities throughout the country.  It was about this time that the South would switch its voter majority to the Republican Party.

 

Nixon’s presidency, for the next four years would be rather dramatic.  He actually increased the pressure of the Viet Nam War, enlarging it beyond its borders in order to get the U.S. out of the war with honor.  Protest grew in this country.  Protest movements exploded, particularly at universities.  By 1972, when it became time for reelection Nixon, even though he had the support of the majority of the American people, became frantic to get reelected.

 

The Republican Party secretly supported, with funds, the most radical of the Democratic candidates, George McGovern, helping him to get nominated as the Democratic candidate.  And a small group of five men, both directly or indirectly, connected with the Republican Reelection Committee broke into Democratic Headquarters at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., bugging two of the telephones and searching for assorted information as to what the Democrats were doing or planning.  They broke in more than once and were finally caught and arrested for burglary.

 

Watergate occurred shortly before the Presidential Election of 1972.  Nixon won the election by an overwhelming majority.  He received 520 electoral votes, carried 49 states with a popular vote of 47,168,710.  McGovern received 17 electoral votes, carried 1 state and Washington, D.C. with a popular vote of 29,173,222.  It was an embarrassing defeat for the candidate and the Democratic Party.

 

Even with the election over and the new Presidential term beginning the Watergate investigation continued.  In addition over the next two years an eighty-five page indictment was developed against Nixon’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, the former governor of Maryland.  He was involved with bribery and extortion, as Vice President, governor, and even going back to before he became governor of Maryland.

 

Because of the turmoil of Watergate the country was undergoing at that time Agnew was offered a deal by government law enforcement.  He could plead “no contest” and resign from the Vice Presidency and he would not be prosecuted.  Agnew took the deal, left Washington, and, from what I remember, settled in Palm Springs, California.  Nixon, while the investigation was going on appointed a new Vice President, Senator Gerald Ford, who would become President after Nixon resigned.

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In January of 1972 G. Gordon Liddy, the Finance Council for the Committee for the Reelection of President Richard Nixon and former aide to John Ehrlichman, presented a campaign intelligence plan to the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP) which consisted  of Acting Chairman Jeb Stuart Magruder, Attorney General John Mitchell, and Presidential Council John Dean that involved extensive illegal activities against the Democratic Party.

 

Mitchell viewed the plan as unrealistic.  Two months later he was alleged to have approved a reduced version of the plan.  This included burgling the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C.  The burglars were to photograph campaign documents and install listening devices in telephones.  G.Gordon Liddy was in charge of the operation, but has insisted, after being arrested, that he was duped by Dean and two of his subordinates. These were former CIA officers E. Howard Hunt and James McCord.

 

The first burglary was on May 28.  Two phones were wiretapped, that of the executive director and that of the DNC secretary.  Apparently the listening devices had problems and a second burglary was planned.

 

Shortly after midnight on June 17, 1972 a security guard at Watergate noticed tape covering the locks on some of the doors in the complex leading from the underground garage to several offices.  This allowed the doors to close but remain unlocked.  He removed the tape.  When he returned an hour later the locks had been re-taped.   He called the police.  Five men were arrested inside the DNC headquarters.

 

On September 15, a grand jury indicted them, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy for conspiracy burglary and violation of federal wiretapping laws.  The five burglars were tried by a jury and were convicted on January 30, 1973,

 

On the morning of June 18, 1972, G. Gordon Liddy called Jeb Magruder in Los Angeles and informed him the “the four men arrested with McCord were Cuban Freedom Fighters, whom Howard Hunt had recruited.”  The White House immediately began a cover up of the crime and any evidence that might damage the President and his reelection.  The Presidential Election would be the first Tuesday in November.

 

(Somehow the burglary and arrests sounds like a scene from the Silent Era series of films on the keystone cops, totally ridiculous.)

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Shortly after the arrest the FBI would discover the name of E. Howard Hunt in the address books of two of the burglars.  Dean was later ordered by top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman to “deep six” the contents of Hunt’s White House safe.  The evidence from Hunt’s safe was destroyed by Dean and the FBI’s Acting Director, L. Patrick Gray.  On June 19, 1972, the press reported that one of the Watergate burglars was a Republican Party Security aide.  On August 1, a $25,000 cashier’s check earmarked for the Nixon re-election campaign was found in the bank account of one of the Watergate burglars.  The FBI investigation would reveal that the burglary team received thousands of dollars in the months leading up to their arrests.  In essence multi-thousands of dollars in certified checks which the burglars had received could be traced back to the CRP, connecting the oncoming Presidential Election with the five burglars.  All five Watergate burglars were directly or indirectly tied to the 1972 CRP.  This in turn caused the Judge who tried their case to suspect a conspiracy involving higher-echelon government officials.  On September 29, 1972, the press reported that John Mitchell, while serving as Attorney General, controlled a secret Republican fund used to finance intelligence gathering against the Democrats.  On October 10, the FBI reported the Watergate burglary was part of a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage on behalf of the Nixon re-election committee.  Still, Nixon’s campaign was never seriously jeopardized.  On November 7, the President was overwhelming re-elected.

 

Watergate lingered between the press and the White House, with more and more information gradually coming out.  In fact it haunted Nixon’s second term as president.  A special council outside the government for the Watergate investigation was appointed.  Archibald Cox headed it.  The Senate held public hearings on Watergate which were publically broadcast on national television.  It came out that Nixon was recording all conversations in the oval office.  Both Cox and the Senate attempted to subpoena these recordings.  Nixon refused and ordered Cox to drop his subpoena.  Cox refused.  Nixon ordered the Attorney General to fire Cox.  The Attorney General refused.  Nixon fired the Attorney General and ordered the assistant to the Attorney General to fire Cox.  He also refused.  Nixon also fired him and appointed a third Attorney General, Robert Bork, who did fire Cox.

 

The public was incensed.  In a speech on October 20, 1973, Nixon stated, “I am not a crook.” Then the new Attorney General, Robert Bork, appointed a new special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, to continue the investigation.

 

The question had become: When did the President learn of the Watergate break-in?  On March 1, 1974 seven of the President’s close aides were indicted by a Grand Jury.  They also secretly named the President as an unindicted co-conspirator.

 

The Nixon administration released an edited version of the tapes.  Expletives, which Nixon freely used and confidential information were removed from the tapes.  The tapes implied that Nixon knew about the burglary from the beginning and that the initial burglars had been paid to keep silent.  Later another tape appeared that proved Nixon was aware of Watergate from the beginning.

 

In July 27, 1974, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee by a vote of 27 to 11 voted to recommend a Bill of Impeachment against the President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon.  On August 8, 1974, Nixon was told of the Bill of Impeachment by the House and that there were no more than 15 votes in the Senate that would support him.  On August 9, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned from the Presidency; the day a bill of impeachment was to be passed in the House of Representatives.

 

The Cover up had failed.  The process had taken a little under two years.  The Vice President, Gerald Ford became the new President.

He would serve out the balance of the presidential term.  Nixon was still liable to criminal prosecution by both state and federal laws.  On September 8, 1974, President Gerald Ford issued a full and unconditional pardon for any crimes Nixon may have or did commit as President.

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Today, early in May of 2017, President Donald J. Trump and his administration face a similar problem.  Is or has it undergone a cover-up for collusion with Vladimir Putin and Russia over the Presidential Election of 2016 or are Trump and his staff amateurs that don’t really know what’s going on as they attempt ineptly to run the United States?

 

According to James Clapper, the former head of the National Intelligence Agency there is “overwhelming” evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election.  The FBI began its counterintelligence investigation in July of 2016, well before the November Presidential Election.

 

What I find interesting here is why the FBI Director, James Comey, disregarded policy about an ongoing investigation and publically commented about the Clinton emails shortly before the November Presidential Election but followed FBI procedure and kept quiet about the Trump investigation.  He spoke about the Trump investigation in early May of 2017, well after the election.

 

On May 9, 2017, Trump fired James Comey, the Director of the FBI.  Did that act of Trump using his favorite phrase, (which, I understand, was his favorite term when he was hosting “The Celebrity Apprentice.”  Presumably he copyrighted the phrase).  Does this end the FBI investigation of Trump and Russia?  It would seem that he is actually encouraging both the investigation and the appointment of an independent prosecutor.

 

Trump and his team have continually denied that they have had any improper contacts with Russia during the 2016 campaign.  Representative Adam Schiff, the highest Democrat on the Intelligence Committee has verbally pointed to a number of people who are or have been part of Trump’s team that have had contact with Russians.  There is Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the committee investigation.  National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who Trump fired eighteen days after discovering he had had contacts with the Russian Ambassador prior to the election.  Trump’s  former campaign manager, Paul Manafort; campaign aides J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, as well as longtime Trump confidant Roger stone.

 

Representative Schiff stated that it was possible that all of their contacts had nothing to do with the election.  “But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated, and that the Russians used the same techniques to corrupt U.S. persons that they have employed in Europe and elsewhere.

 

An election was also held early in May in France and the same techniques were used by the Russians to try to subvert that election to the far-right candidate who Putin preferred.  Unlike Trump, she lost the election.  The French are apparently far more sophisticated than the Americans.

 

On May 7, 2017, the former temporary Attorney General, Sally Yates, and the former head of the National Intelligence Agency, James Clapper, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  President Trump did not emerge in any positive fashion from what was said about him.

 

Donald Trump has been President of the United States for a little over 100 days.  Much of what he has done in that office or what he has stated or tweeted has not shown him in a positive light.  It is still early in his tenure in office.  Remember it took about two years for the evidence against Nixon to come together after his illegal acts.  There is a distinct possibility that it may take as long for the same thing to happen to Trump.

 

Investigation are ongoing now.  While Jeff Sessions has recused himself as the chief law enforcement officer in the nation it is still his assistant who is heading up this investigation.  Pressure is currently building for an independent investigator outside of Trump’s circle.  Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, sees no reason for an independent investigator.  The New York Times is suggesting that there are a lot more of Trump’s people involved with Russia.  What will happen is anyone’s guess.  The probability is that Trump may not survive four years as President of the United States.

The Weiner Component #169 – Part 1: The Third & Final Debate & Beyond

On Wednesday, October 19th 2016 Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did their last Presidential Debate.  They spent a little over 90 minutes in Las Vegas Nevada essentially insulting one another.  Trump called her a “nasty woman,” a liar, and a failure.  Clinton called Trump a greedy misogynist and bully who used his public prominence to enrich himself, take advantage of women, and exploit employees of his business empire.

 

When the Fox news moderator, Chris Wallace, asked Donald Trump if he would give a concession speech if he lost the election Trump refused to give an answer.  He said he would keep the moderator and the public in suspense until that moment arrived.  The implication being that he would not concede the election if he lost.  The next day at a rally Trump stated that he would give a speech if he won the election.

 

The press and many others were shocked by Trump’s comments and attitudes.  Presumably no one in the entire history of the United States has ever not conceded the election they lost.  Trump was presumably either going against precedent or setting a new precedent.  He was basically upsetting the passage of power from one president to another.  And in the process questioning the entire Democratic System.  He was placing himself ahead of his country.

 

Wallace and the press reacted as though a concession speech by the loser is an absolute ritual in passing power from one president to another. By not doing it the entire process is questioned.  The feeling among many is that Trump is placing himself before the good of the American Republic.  His ego is more important than the welfare of the United States.

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If we go back in U.S. history and look at the Election of 1824 we find that at that time there was only one political party, the Democratic-Republican Party.  There were initially five candidates for the presidency that year.  Each was from a different section of the United States and was their section’s favorite son.  One of the candidates suddenly died before the election; consequently the country ended up with four candidates from the same political party.  Andrew Jackson, the Western candidate received the most votes.  John Quincey Adams came next.  None of the four candidates had enough votes to win the presidency.  According to the Constitution in such instances the choice fell to the House of Representatives.  They, in turn skipped General Andrew Jackson and chose John Quincey Adams as the man best equipped to become President of the United States.

 

Andrew Jackson felt that he should have been chosen, as he had the most popular votes.  He, with the aid of his followers, began an anti-administration newspaper which attacked everything the Adams administration did over the next four years.  In 1828 he again ran for the presidency and won the election.  By then, there was the Jacksonian Democrats and a new political party, the Whigs, which consisted of most of the elements within the society that opposed the Jacksonian Democrats.

 

Their name came from the antimonarchist party in England.  They stigmatized the seventh president as King Andrew and were derided by Jacksonian Democrats as the party devoted to the interests of wealth and aristocracy.  They won the election of 1840 with James Polk as well as several other presidential elections.  By 1860 they had, with other political groups, coalesced into the new Republican Party that elected Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

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Trump has had one of his sons investigating to see if he could gain control of a television network.  If he succeeds he may plan to oppose everything that President Hillary Clinton does over her four years in office.  Trump would run again as the Republican candidate in 2020.  He would be 74 years old at that time.  That is the same age at which Ronald Reagan began his second term in office, January 20, 1985 to January 20, 1988.

 

Will this happen?  Probably not.  Donald Trump claims to have over ten billion dollars but his web site is continually asking for contributions, no matter how small.  Also he has continually refused to disclose his income tax data, and that is even after it has been proven that he paid no income taxes for the last 18 years.  The factors, which it seems very important to him to keep secret, are his actual yearly income and the real extent of his wealth.  He certainly doesn’t want it to be known that he is just a plain millionaire and not really a billionaire.  With secrecy he can claim anything and no one can prove otherwise.  And Trump loves to exaggerate everything, including the size of his body parts.

 

Before the election, Trump has put together a TV program which will support his run for the presidency for the last two weeks of his campaign.  On Monday, October 24, fifteen days before the Presidential Election Donald Trump launched what is supposed to be the first of a nightly Facebook Live Program on Facebook.  His campaign sent an email to his supporters around 6:30 Eastern Time to alert them that “Trump Tower Live” would describe nightly coverage from Trump Tower.  The program, which consisted of discussion essentially by key members of his staff, attacked mainstream media accusing them of intentionally misleading voters about the closeness of the race, accusing them of promoting “phony polls.  Apparently this is supposed to continue every night through the election.

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It should be noted that the Constitution says nothing about concession speeches.  All that is required today is 270 electoral votes out of 538 possible votes. 

 

The Constitution, Article II, states that: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.  He shall hold his Office during the term of four Years. . . . Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislators may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress. . . .The Electors shall meet in their prospective States, and vote by ballot for two Persons. . . . And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which list they shall sign and certify, and transmit to the Seat of Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.  The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted.  The Person having the greatest number of votes shall then be President, if such number be a majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed.”

 

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1803, has the electors vote separately for the President and Vice President.  In the Presidential Election of 1800 both Democratic-Republican candidates received the same number of electoral votes and the election was thrown to the House of Representatives.  They chose Thomas Jefferson, who had run as the Presidential candidate.  The Vice Presidential candidate, Aron Burr would later kill Alexander Hamilton in a duel.  He had swung the election to Jefferson. After 1803 that problem never arose again.

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Even though, on the election ballot, we vote for a presidential candidate, we are not actually voting for him or her.  We are, in fact, voting for an invisible elector who will vote for the specific candidate.

 

The Founding Fathers did not quite trust the property owning masses to vote directly for the president.  Also the Senate was originally elected by the legislators of each particular state.  The people did not directly vote for them until the passing of the 17th Amendment in 1913.  The people of the country did directly elect the members of the House of Representatives and because of that, they were given the “power of the purse;” all money bills have to originate in the House of Representatives.

 

It is an interesting bit of irony that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives over the last six years has been the major impediment in the functioning of the Federal Government.  By their inactivity they have been able to maintain to a certain extent the conditions of the Great Recession.  They have successfully, even though many Republicans disavow him now, made Donald Trump their candidate.

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If Trump were to be successful in gaining full or partial control of a TV station after losing the election and runs that station daily over the next four years opposing everything President Hillary Clinton attempts during her turn as President, could he then be successful in a Presidential Election in the year 2020?  The answer to that question is possibly.

 

The Republicans have been successful in controlling the House of Representatives since 2011.  They have been able to do this because in the Election of 2010 they gained a large number of state legislatures and governorships.  2010 was a census year and new voting districts were drawn in all 50 states.  These state election victories allowed them to gerrymander the boundaries of all the states they controlled.  In 2012 there were about one-and-a-quarter million more Democratic votes cast in the nation for members of the House of Representatives than the Republicans but the Republicans still retained control of the House.  This may well continue through the Elections of 2016 and 2018.

 

The probability is that the Republicans will maintain the majority in the House of Representatives under President Clinton and, if the present is any indication, continue behaving there as they have for the last six years.  We will continue to have gridlock and virtually nothing will happen.  There will continue to be war between the two political parties.  The Republicans will continue attempting to force their will upon the Democrats through their normal form of blackmail, adding riders to necessary bills in order to forcibly bring their agenda about.

 

Trump’s base, his followers, will continue to become frustrated and disillusioned with Washington, D.C.  They may well be joined by many of those who have not registered with either party.  Consequently they could well make up fifty percent of the voting population.

 

One commentator came out with the comment that the word Trump more and more reminds him of the Nazi symbol.  I suspect over the next four years Trump could become even more rigid in his demands.  And the primaries are open elections in which Trump could easily run again to be chosen the Republican presidential candidate.

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The Republican dominated House of Representatives has again begun playing its old games with the Federal Budget.  They have refused to pass a yearly budget for the United States.  Currently the country has a budget until the middle of December 2016.  The temporary law will then be revisited with all sorts of new demands by the current House of Representatives before they go out of existence and a new House comes into being.  They will, in all probability, pass another three month temporary extension of the budget.

 

The money appropriated for the Zika epidemic was 800 million dollars short of what was requested by the assorted medical facilities that are dealing with the problem.  This will be revisited by the next House of Representatives long before the end of 2017.  The general public will become even more frustrated with Washington. 

 

Basically the Republican House by its actions will create a very solid base for Donald Trump to run as their candidate in 2020 for the presidency of the United States.  Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, who has refused to campaign with Trump because of Trump’s crassness against women, will be the one who is creating the setting that could well make Donald J. Trump the President of the United States in 2020.  And all this is being made possible because the Republicans cannot communicate and negotiate with the Democrats.

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Trump has loudly and continually accused the media, which he considers partisan of releasing “rigged polls” that place Hillary Clinton ahead of him.  It seems he knows he has won all three debates with her and is sure he is ahead of her with the voters.  I seem to remember that in 2012 the Republican leadership did not believe the polls because they favored Barack Obama and not Mitt Romney.  They were shocked when Obama won the election.  The polls were correct.  For inaccurate polls we have to go back to the Election of 1948, when Dewey ran against Truman.  Presumably the pollsters have made massive corrections in their polling techniques since then.

 

We will wait for the results of the 2016 Election before evaluating this election.  I suspect Trump will lose by quite a large number.  This is true even with the new release of non-information by the head of the FBI to Republican members of the Senate and House of Representatives about so-called new Clinton emails.

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It is also interesting to note that with the Electoral System, depending upon the population of the individual states, every vote is not equal.  In the heavily populated states like California and New York the individual vote is worth far less than in the sparsely inhabited states like Alaska, Rhode Island or Delaware.

 

To date there have been two elections where the man chosen by the Electoral College did not receive the majority of the popular vote: the first was the Republican, Rutherford Hayes in 1876, who became the United States President even though the Democrat, Samuel Tilden, won the popular vote; and the second was the Republican, George W. Bush in 2001, who became President even though the Democrat, Al Gore, received the majority of the popular vote. 

 

We can certainly use another Amendment to the Constitution.  It would be worthwhile to pass such an amendment before the situation arises again and also it would be fairer for all the American people to make each vote of equal value.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

The Weiner Component #168 – As You Sow, So Shall You Reap: The Recent History of the Republican Party

With the Friday, October 7th release of the lewd and sexual harassing conversation, that Trump did in 2005 on a bus into an open microphone to Billy Bush, one of the hosts of the TV show “Access America,” while on the way to do another show, being made public, many of the Republican leaders, in and out of Congress, are calling upon Trump to drop out of the 2016 Presidential race as the Republican candidate.  When he refused, saying that the conversation was only “locker room talk,” many Republicans, in and out of Congress, still want to drop the Party’s support for him, arguing that he’s already lost the election.  They want to concentrate all the Party’s resources and efforts on the Congressional and state elections.  Paul Ryan, while still endorsing Trump, has stated that he will no longer campaign with him and that Republicans should concentrate on Congressional and state election.

 

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were in shock.  Ryan was booed on Saturday, October 8, for disinviting Trump from the Wisconsin Unity Rally.  But both Ryan, the Speaker of the House, and McConnell, the Majority Leader in the Senate, are equally guilty of creating the milieu within the United States that allowed Trump to become a presidential candidate.  Both are equally guilty of bringing about the gridlock in Congress that caused very little to be done there, in keeping the government barely functioning, and even shutting it down for a while.  Even now, with Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress, there is a short term funding bill for a small part of the next fiscal year’s budget.  This includes, after four months hassling, Zika funding.

 

Every effect has a cause; and the cause of Donald Trump being the Republican presidential candidate can easily be traced back to Republican inaction in passing the necessary laws needed to run this country.  Every Republican in Congress worked to make Barack Obama a one term President and then still refused to cooperate with him during his second term in office.  They are all equally responsible for Donald Trump being their presidential candidate today.  They, by their inactions, created the situation that exists today.  They are all the cause of their own present-day ever-growing discomfort, Donald Trump.

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I suspect that by the end of his second term, President George W. Bush couldn’t even have won an election to become dogcatcher.  He has gotten absolutely no mention in the current election by Trump or other Republicans.  But he was the President of the United States who declared war on Iraq, supposedly because of their weapons of mass destruction, but actually to punish Saddam Hussein for attempting to have his “Daddy” assassinated.  He was the one who destabilized the Middle East and was the President responsible for much that was blamed on President Barack Obama.

 

George W. Bush has somehow gotten lost in history; but he was President of the United States only eight years ago; and much of what Donald Trump has blamed on President Obama was not only initiated by Bush but also carried out by him.  It was Bush who set up the U.S. exit from Iraq which President Obama then carried out.  And it was then the Iraqi and Afghanistan new governments that wanted the U.S. to withdraw.  Neither government was able to run their own state against the Taliban, the forces of the Middle East that opposed them.

 

And the U.S. National Debt was mostly created by Republican Presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan with his “Star Wars” operation which brought the Debt up to over one trillion dollars, to President George H.W. Bush who sent an army to remove the Iraqi military from Kuwait.  The war was known as Desert Storm and never would have been necessary if Bush had dealt properly with Saddam Hussein and not given him the impression that he could invade oil rich Kuwait.

 

The National Debt was actually decreased under President Bill Clinton.  But President George W. Bush initiated and fought two wars in the Middle East that, with slight interruptions, are still going on today. Through the efforts of these Republican Presidents the National Debt has soared from one trillion to over nineteen trillion dollars today.

 

The Great Recession of 2008 or to state it more clearly, the great bank caused housing bubble burst under President George W. Bush who initially bailed out the banks.  President Obama inherited it and in order to prevent it from becoming a greater depression than that of 1929 had to spend a lot of money.  He brought about a large degree of recovery in spite of the fact that a Republican led House of Representatives continually worked against it and his efforts to end it.  He also inherited two wars from George W. Bush. 

 

Donald Trump loudly and vociferously blames our NAFTA Agreement of 1993 on President Bill Clinton.  That agreement was initially negotiated by President George H.W. Bush in 1993.  Congress was unhappy with parts of it and these were renegotiated by President Bill Clinton and approved by both political parties in the Senate.  The initial international trade agreement was brought about by both a Republican and Democratic President.  Somehow Donald is either confused or he’s editing history to fit his pattern of what, he feels, the past should be.  Instead of calling President Obama a failed president he should call himself a failed candidate for the presidency.  This is especially true now that about a dozen or women have accused him of one or another form of sexual assault.

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Barry Goldwater (R) ran against Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 Presidential Election.  He was the first ardent conservative to run for the presidency.  Goldwater, according to his autobiography, did not expect to win the election.  He achieved 22% of the popular vote.  That percentage marked the extreme conservatives in the American electorate at that time. 

 

Interestingly Hillary Rodham (Clinton), as a high school student worked as a volunteer on his campaign.  Her parents were conservative and she initially followed in their footsteps.

 

From that time on the extreme right of the Republican Party worked avidly to improve their status with the electorate in the United States.  The next president, four years later was the Republican, Richard Nixon.  He was not as conservative as many in the party were.  Nixon resigned half-way through his second term over the Watergate Scandal.  He left the day before the House of Representatives was going to vote for a Bill of Impeachment.  Gerald Ford (R), the Vice President Nixon had appointed, replaced Nixon after his initial Vice President, Spiro Agnew, resigned over a corruption scandal.

 

President Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller as his Vice President.  Rockefeller represented what was then left or liberal end of the Republican Party; he was a moderate Republican.  The next President, the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, would be more conservative than Nelson Rockefeller.  This group of Republicans would be a dying breed. 

 

Ford was president for two years and then was replaced by the Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who would, four year later, be replaced by the Teflon conservative Republican President, Ronald Reagan.  With Reagan the ultra-conservatives felt that they had one of their own in office.  Reagan, however was capable of compromise.  The comment during his period as president was that he would take half-a-loaf, that is, compromise if he got some of what he wanted.

 

Reagan was followed by George H.W. Bush.  He had to contend with a Democratic Congress.  Then came William Jefferson Clinton for the next eight years.  Clinton spent most of his time contending with a Republican Congress.  He was frustrated over a number of laws he couldn’t get passed.  During his last year in office he actually reduced the deficit.

 

Clinton was followed by George W. Bush who was initially elected with less than the majority vote.  A foul-up on the ballots in Florida and the fact that his younger brother was the governor of that state and had inappropriately purged the voter lists got him elected.

 

Barack Obama was the first Black elected to the Presidency of the United States.  I suspect that that had something to do with the way he’s been treated by Congress.  All the Congressional Republicans at an early caucus meeting swore to make him a one term President.  They decided that they would support nothing that he tried to do.  

 

It was largely because of this overall inaction that the general public was alienated from Congress.  This brought about a condition in the country whereby the Blue-collar Republicans were looking for a hero to free them from the Washington Republicans.  That hero, to them, was Donald Trump.  It is amazing that the Republicans in Congress still do not understand what they have done.  And that is because they are still acting in that fashion with their short-term funding bill which they will revisit in December before the next Congress meets in January.

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For most of his two terms in office President Obama bent backwards to accommodate the Republicans.  The Affordable Health Care Bill (Obamacare) was based upon a Republican plan developed by Citizen’s United, a far right think tank, for Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts.  It passed Congress on a partisan basis; in both Houses all Republicans voted against it and all Democrats voted for it.  From 2011 on the Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives.  And outside of absolutely necessary bills nothing was passed.

 

A single bill can deal with an endless number of subjects and Paul Ryan came up with the idea of adding parts of their far right agenda to necessary bills that, for example, funded the United States.  That is why currently the bill to fund the U. S. for the next fiscal year was passed at the last minute and functions only until the middle of December 2016 when the Congress will meet again for a very short session presumably to fund the balance of the year.

 

The Republican dominated House of Representatives pattern is to pass their necessary bills at the last moment, shortly before they adjourn for some sort of extended break.  This means that the Senate gets very little time to consider the bill because they are also ready to leave for a period of time.  Consequently it’s pass the bill or let the nation suffer.

 

Ordinarily, every bill goes to a standing committee of members of that House where it is gone over, testimony on the bill can be taken and possibly the bill is modified, then it is sent to the specific house and can be debated before being voted upon. 

 

All money bills originate in the House of Representatives which directly represents the people, the Constitution gives them the “power of the purse.”  The Senate originally represented the states; they were elected by the legislative bodies in each state.  This was changed by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1913 to where the people directly elected two Senators from each state.

 

After a bill is passed in one House it then goes to the other House and the same process is repeated.  Ordinarily there is some difference between the two bills and a Conference Committee, comprised of members of both Houses of Congress meet.  They work out a new version of the bill which then goes back to both House and is voted upon again.  If it passes in both Houses it is then sent to the President for his signature.  After he signs it the bill becomes law.  This process cannot be completed in two days.

 

The new process, presumably under Paul Ryan’s tutelage, was developed in the Republican dominated House after 2011 when the Republicans received a majority of members in the House of Representatives.  It was a means of forcing or blackmailing the Democratic dominated Senate and the President into accepting parts of the Republican agenda.  They either passed it quickly in the Senate and the President signed it or the country suffered.  An example of this was to take over four months to financially deal with the Zika epidemic and then to still not fully fund the bill to the amount requested by the President.

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Currently the Congress has the lowest approval rating in the history of its existence.  The Gallop Pole does a monthly survey which from 2011 to the present goes up and down continually from 9% to 20%.  A number of other polls average 13.8 % approval.  

 

Sooner or later there has to be a reaction to Congress’ high level of non-functionality.  That reaction in the 2016 Primaries was Donald Trump for those citizens who could not stand the Democratic agenda but were frustrated by that of the Republicans.  And Bernie Sanders was the candidate for those who were basically Democrats but were fed-up with Congressional gridlock.  Sanders has coalesced into the Clinton campaign and now supports her.

 

The Congressional Republicans created the field upon which Donald Trump, despite all the negative information that emerges about him, has flourished as the Republican Candidate.  They and they themselves by their strategies and actions have created him and now they refuse to take responsibility for what they have done.

 

Paul Ryan, who was totally disgusted by recent information that emerged about Trump, and cancelled his invitation to a rally with himself in Wisconsin, will no longer campaign with him.  He will concentrate upon Congressional elections only.  And it was Paul Ryan, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, who, at the last minute before adjourning the House, got the bill passed that temporarily funded the United States Budget through the middle of December so that the Republicans could once again make demands upon President Obama before he leaves office at the end of the year.

 

They are still playing the games that have lowered their approval rating with the American Public well under 20%.  Apparently winning political points is still far more important than carrying out their oaths to serve the American people.

 

The Republicans want political power and seemingly will do anything to achieve it.  And they will take no responsibility for the acts they perform.  It would be a nice irony for them if their actions caused them to lose control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  And, of course they would not understand how it came about.  Donald Trump, as a candidate, is their creation!

 

With the partial funding of the 2016 – 2017 budget the Federal Government may still face a major crisis.  If the House of Representatives attempts to force its agenda through at the last minute with the December Funding Bill then the last major act of President Obama may be to veto the Bill.  If this occurs then the current administration will end with a nonfunctioning government.  The new President will have to begin her administration by declaring a state of emergency until the government is legally funded in mid to late January of 2017 by the new Congress.  

 

Could this happen?  Very easily, if the Republican dominated House of Representatives attempts to force its will upon the country.  This would be shortly after the November 8th Election.  It would seem that a state of war exists between the Democratic President and the Republicans, and Donald J. Trump is just a byproduct of all this.

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“As you sow, so shall you reap.”  It shouldn’t take too much intelligence to understand this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #152 – Part 1: The 41st National Republican Nominating Convention

English: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Fr...

English: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Français : Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

From July 18th to July 21st the 2016 41st Republican National Convention will meet at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.  The Convention of 2,472 delegates will choose the Republican candidates for both President and Vice President of the United States.  They will also write a Party Platform for which the Party will stand for the next four years.

 

This will be the third time Cleveland has hosted this event since 1936.  In order to be chosen a candidate needs a simple majority, 1, 237 votes from convention delegates. 

 

The Republicans began holding nominating conventions throughout the states in 1912 when Theodore Roosevelt wanted to again run for the presidency.  It was done on a very limited basis then.  He ended up running as a third party candidate and lost to the Democratic candidate, Woodrow Wilson.  It was widely used in 1952 to choose Dwight David Eisenhower as the Republican candidate.  Finally in 1968 the primary or caucus system was used throughout the 50 states and territories.   Initially when the primary elections began in 2016 there were 17 candidates for the office.  Another 5 attempted to enter but they had withdrawn before the primaries began. 

 

The major question at this Convention is: Who will be nominated to run against the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the country?  Currently there are three viable Republican candidates: Donald J. Trump, Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz, and John R. Kasich. 

 

Kasich currently has less delegate votes than Marco Rubio had when he quit the race after losing his home state, Florida.  There is no possible way he can attain the 1,237 delegate votes needed to be chosen as the candidate.  Consequently he is hoping that both Trump and Cruz will be disqualified and the Convention will choose him.

 

The race at this point is between Trump and Cruz.  In order for either one to win that individual needs to come up with 1,237 delegate votes on the first ballot.  Because once the delegates have voted their obligation for their designated candidate on the first ballot, if they do not reach the necessary number of votes their obligation to vote for their candidate expires, and they are free to vote for whomsoever they wish.

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A week prior to the opening of the July commencement of the 41st National Nominating Convention its Rules Committee will meet in Cleveland and redefine or set the rules for the convention.  They could be a renewal of the 2012 Rules, a slight variation on them, a complete new set of rules, or a combination of any two of the above.  In essence the Rules Committee will establish a complete set of rules for the 2016 Republican National Nominating Convention.  What will they be?  That’s a very good question, which will not be completely answered until July 18th of 2016 in Cleveland when the entire Convention approves them.

 

There are important considerations in the process.  Every one of the 50 states and the territories have their own have their own specific election primary laws or practices.  Actual primary elections are run by the states, caucuses are done by the political party.  There are one or two states where the results of the primary election have nothing to do with appointing delegates to the National Convention.  Just about every state also has three unbound electors or Superdelegates who will go to the Cleveland Nominating Convention not bound to any candidate.  They usually, but not always, vote for the favorite.  In the state of Georgia almost all the delegates favor Cruz in 2016 but Donald Trump won the Primary Election there.  These people are legally committed to vote for Trump on the first ballot and possibly on the second one also but after that they will vote for Cruz.  Also according to the old rules (2012) caucus elections are not legal and the votes from open primary elections don’t count.  An open election is where the voters can vote for the candidate in either party.  In some states with closed primaries the voters have to be registered months earlier in order to vote in a primary election.  In other states they can register the day of the election or up to a day earlier.  Consequently what specifically will be a legal vote for a candidate what will not be will be determined the first day after the Convention begins on July 18, 2016 and is voted into existence on that day.  This means that a candidate like Donald Trump even coming to the Convention with 1,237 delegate votes may not legally have 1,237 votes by the rules of the Convention.

 

Donald Trump has been vociferously complaining about the unfairness of the Republican leadership, that he is the leading candidate according to the popular vote, has the most delegates committed to him, but that other delegates have been unfairly awarded to Ted Cruz, and earlier to other candidates.  Interestingly one of the Republican Party people stated on April 13th that if Trump comes to the Convention with 1,100 committed delegates he will be the Republican candidate; that the additional votes to make up the 1,237 will be found for him, presumably from the uncommitted delegates. 

 

Is this true or was it stated to pacify an unruly crowd?  The person who said this may have been a Republican official but he wasn’t the present head of the Republican Party, Reince Priebus is the current National Chairman; and I suspect he wouldn’t make a statement like that.  In fact he hasn’t.

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It would seem that Donald Trump, when all is said and done, is an amateur politician; and this holds true for his staff also.  For example neither Trump nor any members of his staff made any prerequisite contacts in Colorado or Wyoming.  Cruz did do so and all the delegates from both states were assigned to him.  The state chairman from Wyoming made a negative statement about Trump several months earlier.  The caucuses or straw votes by the general Republican population were ignored.  The decision as to who the nominee would be was made by the State Republican chairman, the treasurer, the party secretary, and all the county chairmen.  All 37 delegates in Colorado were assigned to Ted Cruz.  The same thing happened in Wyoming; Cruz won all 14 delegates.  He was the only Republican to campaign there.  The victory occurred on April 16, 2016.  A member of his staff had been there for months working for that victory. 

 

Cruz is well organized and will do whatever is necessary to win in those areas of the country where he can win or gather delegate votes.  As of, Tuesday, April 19th he has gotten 559 delegates.  He won no delegates in the New York primary.  Trump is still ahead with 845.  In the New York primary he won 89 out of 95 possible delegates.

 

Trump has vociferously called the Republican selection process unfair and rigged in both Colorado and Wyoming.  In fact it would seem that Trump and his staff did not understand the process in Colorado and did not contact the party there, nor did they bother in Wyoming.  They must have assumed that everything in these two states would automatically take care of itself.  Cruz did not make this mistake.

 

Delegates in Colorado are chosen through a process that starts with March 1st caucuses and ends at the state convention on April 9th.  Colorado delegates can go to the National Convention as either bound or unbound to a candidate.  This year they are all bound to Cruz.

 

Wyoming holds a primary election on April 5th and Cruz has had staff there for months working toward his candidacy.  He also visited the state earlier for a couple of days and held rallies there.

 

Even though the delegate nominating vote will not occur in the state of Washington until May 24th Trump’s staff has sent the paperwork necessary to be in the state primary to Washington, D.C.  While I imagine there is still plenty of time to correct this error is it the type of mistake that should be made by a candidate running for the presidency of the United States?  Both he and his staff are inordinately sloppy in their actions.  Is this the way professionals are supposed to behave?  I get the feeling when people feel they know everything there’s nothing they can ever learn.  And this behavior seems to be that of Trump and of his staff.

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Trump is also a master at bellyaching.  He never seems to cease complaining about one or another injustice against him by the Republican Party.  He fumed over the results from Colorado.  He’s blamed the media and the press for refusing to point out what he has described as an injustice in the Republican primary contest.  “The media is so dishonest.  Honestly, I do wonder.  I’m millions of votes ahead which they don’t even mention, they don’t even talk about. They talk about delegates.  And I’m hundreds of delegates ahead but the system is rigged, folks.  It’s a rigged, disgusting dirty system.  It’s a dirty system and only a non-politician would say it.”

 

 He feels that much of the Republican leadership in Washington D. C. and across the United States is opposed to him.  A good example of this is what happened in Colorado and the fact that some Republican Super Pac’s are spending millions in ads to defeat him.  In fact there are three Republican Super Pac’s that are focused upon his defeat.  These are The Club for Growth, Our Principals Pact, and the American Futures Fund.  They are all unaligned without any specific candidate and it is estimated that they have so-far spent 23.5 million on negative ads against Donald Trump.

 

Another colorful example is Indiana, which will hold its Primary Election on May 3, 2016.  Indiana has 57 delegates.  This is the second largest block coming up next to California.  Of these 56 are now committed (April 15) to not voting for Trump.  One of the 57 delegates is committed to Trump.  The Primary Election will still take place on May 3, 2016; but ultimately it will have nothing to do with choosing delegates.  That has already been done by the Republican State Party Leadership.  Trump visited the state on Wednesday, April 20th, the day after his New York victory.

 

Are many leading members of the Republican Party out to get Trump?  Obviously.  Many see the potential of his candidacy harming the Republican Party for years to come.  He represents the undereducated, blue collar workers, the people who could never get themselves to vote Democratic, the bottom third of the Republican Party who have never gotten anything from the Party except the right to own guns.  They are essentially disgusted with their party and want something more in return for their vote.  These are the people who have continually supported Trump.

 

He, in his speeches, is telling them that if he is not the frontrunner in the Presidential Election then they should stay home and not vote.  It would seem that Trump is not only fighting to get elected but he is also fighting the Republican Party in order to be elected President of the United States.  He has also made comments or veiled threats about what will happen at the Convention if he, the frontrunner, is not elected.

 

If Trump does not reach the 1,237 delegates for the first vote at the Convention it is highly possible that Cruz’s organizational advantage could win him the nomination after the first vote in the election; but it is also possible that he will still not have enough delegates to reach the 1,237 votes needed to be chosen.  Trump won the Louisiana primary but Cruz might end up with more delegates than Trump by gaining Marco Rubio’s delegates and the unbound delegates from that state.

 

There is an interesting note or irony here.  These same class of blue collar men and women in Las Vegas, who are currently employed by Trump at his casino, are currently fighting for the right to unionize Trump’s International Hotel in Las Vegas.  His management is doing everything possible in what is mainly a largely unionized city to keep the casino workers from being able to unionize.  Consequently Trump is fighting a small section with a group of the very people who support him politically to keep them from being able to unionize. 

 

As a footnote: it should be noted that both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are generating a lot of hostility particularly among the school-age youth across a good part of this country.  Their remarks about Muslims and Hispanics are and have created bullying and tension among young children and teenagers in public schools.  It is increasing racial and ethnic pressure to the point where it is noticeable by their teachers.  Whether it is being picked up from conversations at home or from both conversations and television is beside the point.  The point is that there is a noticeable increase in this behavior being touched off by the two major Republican candidates.  And that is not good news for a country that prides itself on all the racial and ethnic groups that make it up!

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Ted Cruz, the other major Republican Candidate, has said, that Muslim areas of the United States should be specially patrolled by the police.  In certain respects it is hard to tell the two Republican candidates apart for their negative qualities, which even though they are not all similar are equally bad. 

 

In 2012 Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz was elected to the U.S. Senate.  He was the far right candidate, with heavy support from the Texas Tea Party.  He won the state Republican primary over Republican Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and later, in the election, beat the Democratic candidate.  Cruz failed to report two loans, which helped him finance his campaign, that were required by law.  Time Magazine reported the first one during the 2012 campaign and The New York Times reported the second one in 2016.  Cruz disclosed the loans on his Senate financial disclosure forms in July of 2012, but not on the Federal Election Commission form.  The second loan came largely from Goldman Sacks, where his wife worked as an executive.  Cruz stated that his failure to disclose these loans was accidental.  There was no evidence that his wife was involved in securing the second loan.  These monies, several million dollars, were repaid by later campaign fundraising.

 

Cruz has sponsored 25 bills of his own.  Among these were: a bill to cancel Affordable Health Care (Obamacare), two bills to investigate and prosecute felons and fugitives who illegally purchase firearms, a bill to permit states to require proof of citizenship for registering to vote in federal elections, a bill to increase coal, natural gas, and crude oil exports, to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, to expand oil drilling offshore, to give states the sole power of regulating hydraulic fracturing, to prohibit the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, to earmark natural resource revenue to paying off the Federal Debt, and to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to eliminate all limits on direct campaign contributions for candidates for public office.

 

Cruz was heavily involved in the Government Shutdown of 2013 which ended up costing the U.S. Economy about 29 billion dollars.  Cruz gave a 21 hour Senate speech in an effort to hold up a federal budget bill and defund the Affordable Care Act.  Cruz’s efforts encouraged the House of Representatives to effect the shutdown.  It did not really stop any bills from passing in the Senate.  Even Republican Senators denounced the move; Senator Lindsey Graham called the move ineffective and “shameless.” 

 

Cruz has denounced President Obama as an enemy of the Republic.  He has used harsh rhetoric against fellow Republicans calling a number of them who voted for a bill backed by the President a “surrender caucus.”  He accused Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of telling “a flat out lie.”  On abortion Cruz is strongly prolife.  He’ll allow the termination of a pregnancy only when the mother’s life is in danger; rape or incest are not grounds for an abortion.  He opposes both same-sex marriages and civil unions; marriage should be legally defined as a union between one man and one woman.  He supports school choice and opposes the state regulated common core standards.  He is totally against Affordable Health Care and would repeal that law.  He is a gun rights advocate and is opposed to certain religious groups (Muslim) immigrating to the United States. 

 

In terms of criminal law, Cruz has called for an end to “over-criminalization, harsh mandatory minimum sentences, and the demise of jury trials.”  He believes that most criminals are Democrats and that is the reason Democrats are soft on crime.  They want the votes of the criminal class.  He has accused the President and the Attorney General of vilifying police law enforcement. 

 

He believes in free trade, in a flat tax that everyone pays in terms of an equal percentage that they can file on the back of a postcard.  He wants to do away with the IRS.  He is opposed to a higher minimum wage.

 

Following the Tea Party theology Cruz wants to decrease the size of the Federal Government significantly.  He would do this by eliminating the IRS plus four other cabinet agencies: the Department of Energy, the Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  He is also a staunch supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

 

Cruz rejects what most scientists accept as fact that the earth’s surface is slowly and continually heating because of the gases that are continually being spewed into the atmosphere.  In March of 2015 he stated that there had been no significant global warming for the last eighteen years.

 

In foreign affairs Cruz stringently opposes the United Nations Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that brought about the non-nuclear development agreement with Iran and the U.N., calling it catastrophic and disastrous.  Of the 2014 thaw in relations between Cuba and the U.S., Cruz called it foreign policy that “will be remembered as a tragic mistake.”  In 2013 Cruz stated that American armed forces should not serve as “al-Qaeda’s air force.”  In 2014 he said, “The president’s foreign policy team utterly missed the threat of ISIS, indeed, was working to arm Syrian rebels that were fighting side by side with ISIS.”  He has also called for carpet bombing of ISIS, which would kill innumerable non-ISIS members and create a very negative image of America in the Middle East or wherever we attacked ISIS.

 

It should also be noted that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is an American investment manager at Goldman Sacks, who currently is on a leave of absence from the company.  She has an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School and is currently Regional Head of the Southwest United States for the Investment Management Division in Houston.  She took a leave of absence to participate in her husband’s presidential campaign.  I’m sure Goldman Sacks would like to have one of their executives as first lady.

 

The meeting of the Republican Nominating Convention during the third week in July should be very dramatic.

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From what I understand Rafael Edward (Ted) Cruz has a very good mind.  He was probably academically the top student both in his college class and in law school.  Over the years probably from his teenage period on or possibly even earlier he has worked out his prospective of the world around him and firmly believes what he says.  He tends to be at the right extreme or beyond from the Tea Party’s position.  He has a tendency to denounce anyone who doesn’t agree with him.  This includes the entire faculty of Harvard Law School.  He called them Communists after he graduated.  If anything, by his actions, he is intolerant of anyone who doesn’t agree with him; this includes at times the entire U.S. Senate.  From statements he has made, as President he will us his executive privilege, far beyond anything President Obama has done. 

 

A goodly percentage of the Republican Party doesn’t want him as their candidate.  And the probability is that neither he nor Trump will have the necessary 1,237 delegate votes to be nominated as the Republican candidate for the presidency.  The Republican Nominating Convention will be looking for, what has historically been called, a “dark horse.”  They will move into their convention without a specific candidate.  There is a very high probability that the Republicans will have to go through a large number of ballots before they choose someone that the majority can live with.  The process of doing this should be very loud and highly dramatic.

 

It then becomes an open convention and the search is on for an acceptable candidate.    Who will it be? 

 

The first person waiting in the wings is John Kasich; in fact, he seems to have planned to be in this position and he will be the only choice left.  Kasich served in the House of Representatives for 18 years, has worked in the private sector as an investment banker, and is now serving his second term as governor of Ohio.  He tends to be a more liberal or compassionate conservative than any of the other Republican candidates.  He has the smallest number of delegates, 148.  This is less even than Marco Rubio had when he withdrew from the race and who is no longer running for the office of president.  Kasich will no doubt claim to be the only real alternative that the Party has If Trump and Cruz don’t reach 1,237 votes.

 

Another possibility would be Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican Presidential candidate, who lost that election to Barak Obama.  He has stated that he has no desire to be president but is waiting in the wings to be asked to serve his country.

 

A third possibility is Paul Ryan, the current Speaker of the House of Representatives.  He has specifically stated: “Let me be perfectly clear: I do not want nor will I accept the nomination of our party.”  But he said the same thing about becoming Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Speaker Paul Ryan could be drafted.  He ran in 2012 for both the Vice Presidency and as a continuing member of the House of Representatives.  He will preside over the Cleveland Convention.

 

Ryan has indicated that he sees disaster for the Republican Party if either Trump or Cruz are nominated.  He has urged delegates to pass a rule limiting the nomination only to actual candidates.  If he is successful in doing this then he would seem to favor John Kasich.  But it would also open the convention up to all the former Republican candidates who have dropped out of the race.  And Marco Rubio, even though he dropped out after losing the Florida Primary, has a higher number of delegates than Kasich.  It would also resurrect Jeb Bush.  It’s a crazy situation.

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Another important consideration is what will happen at the actual Presidential Election; Donald Trump seems to be contemplating rioting from his supporters if he is not nominated.  As to the final vote he is telling his followers to stay at home and not vote if he is not the candidate.  Will he be successful?  At worst, partially; at best, considerably.

 

Ted Cruz’s supporters seem to have a similar attitude.  They detest Trump and probably will not vote for him if he is the candidate.  Trump has a following of about 35 to 37% of the registered Republicans in the primaries.  To become president he will need over 50% of the combined vote from all the political groups.

 

If the candidate becomes Kasich or some other choice will that person, who is a compromise candidate, be able to unite the Republican Party or does it stay as splintered as it is currently?

 

I suspect it will stay splintered with many Republican votes never being cast.  The probability is that the Republican Party, which is the minority party in the United States, will lose the Presidential Election.

The Weiner Component #146 Part 1 – The Republican Party & the Future

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon...

English: Presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George Herbert Walker Bush, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter at the dedication of the Reagan Presidential Library (Left to right). Français : De gauche à droite, les présidents américains Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan et Jimmy Carter à la bibliothèque Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (1991) où se trouve une reconstitution du bureau ovale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Fran...

Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo. Français : Gerald Ford, premier portrait officiel du Président américain, (1974). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: US map 1856 shows free and slave stat...

English: US map 1856 shows free and slave states and populations; this is “Reynolds’s Political Map of the United States” (1856) from Library of Congress collectionhttp://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart3b.html (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

Over most of its history the Republican Party has been essentially a Caucasian male Protestant group.   This was the population that originally made up the American colonies and revolted against British in the late 18th Century, setting up the United States initially along the East coast of the American continent.

 

During the late 19th and early 20th Century there were large migrations from Eastern Europe.  Asians, Chinese and Japanese initially could not become citizens of the United States, but their children, who were born in the U.S., were citizens.  Earlier there had been a large initially unwelcome migration of Irish Catholics caused by the Great Potato Famine in Ireland.  In the early 20th Century laws were passed setting quotas for people coming from different countries.  These quota systems are largely with us today.

 

We never seem to reach the quotas allowable for Western or Northern Europe but for Eastern Europe and other areas of the world like the Middle East and Central and South America there are waiting periods, after one gets in line, that in some instances could take a decade or more.

 

Since the last 40 years of the 20th Century the demographics of the United States has been changing.  Because of assorted wars in which the U.S. has been involved in the post-World War II Period in Asia, in the Middle East, and in other areas, large numbers of these peoples have come to the United States from the rest of the world.  These movements, are still continuing.  They have and are continuing to change the demographics in the U.S.  It is no longer a Wasp nation, a white Anglo-Saxon-Protestant nation.  Today there are growing numbers of other ethnic and so-called racial groups.  In fact the original Caucasian Protestant population is now a large minority among other large minorities and the Republicans make up about 19% of that population.  They are a minority among other minorities.

 

Generally in the present the Republican Party is made up of mostly the economic upper 1% of the population.  These are the wealthy who form the executives of most of the large corporations in the U.S. plus others who have intense wealth.  They have largely benefited from Republican leadership in Congress.

 

There is also a large independent-loving blue collar group who, with the evangelicals form the voting base of the party.  There would also be a percentage of white collars members, many of whom see themselves eventually joining the upper 1%.

 

Unfortunately for a good percentage of the blue collar base, particularly the independent, gun-loving ones, outside of freely owning their weapons, they have gotten nothing from the Republican leadership in Congress, particularly since 2011,  when the Republicans assumed leadership in the House of Representatives.  These currently are most of the people who support Donald Trump for President.

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With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 advocating popular sovereignty, in which one of the two newly entering states would supposedly be free and the other a slave state, the Whig Party split into two groups: the Conscience Whigs repudiated slavery and the Cotton Whigs were for slavery.  The first group joined the Free-Soil Party.  They were joined by the American Party and the remnants of the Know-Nothings Party which had become popular for a short period, calling for restrictions on the foreign born.

 

At this time, 1854, the Republican Party also began. It was able to run its first Presidential Election in 1860, attaining 40% of the popular vote and the election of Abraham Lincoln as President.  The majority party, the Democratic Party, had split into two parts, one Northern and one Southern.  The Southern section supported slavery and the Northern part tended to be neutral on this issue.

 

The new Republican Party was a combination of different political groups.  They were mainly the Northern and Northwestern Whig Party, the Conscience Whigs.  The Southern Whig Party, the Cotton Whigs, ran their own candidate in the South.  The Northern Whigs consisted of pro-business supporters who did not agree with the Democrats; abolitionists that strongly opposed slavery; and other small groups like the remnants of the Know Nothing Party.

 

In essence during 1860, there were two separate elections: one in the North and one in the South.  The Northern candidates did not run in the South and the Southern candidates were not on the Northern ballots.

 

The new Republican Party had grown from the ranks of the Free-Soilers, the Anti-Slavery Whigs, and the Anti-Nebraska Democrats.  They were in opposition to the extension of slavery anywhere within the territories of the United States.

 

Since the majority of the population occupied the North and Northwest the new Republican Party won with 40% of the vote.  As we’ve seen none of the political parties were on the ballots in all of the states.  There were no Republican votes cast in any of the Southern states.  The Southern Democrats had no ballots cast in the newer Northwestern states and in many of the other older Northern states.  The other Democrats had no votes cast in the other Southern states.  The election was actually two separate elections.  When the ballots were counted Lincoln had received 40% of the popular vote.  This translated to 180 electoral votes.  The other three candidates together had a total of 123 electoral votes.

 

This was the first Republican National Election.  Henceforth it would be them and the Democrats; the other political parties and the issue of slavery would disappear after the Civil War.  In 1876, with the election of Republican, Rutherford Hayes as President, the Southern states would lose the Northern army of Reconstruction or occupation and would come back into the Union as independent states and the country would move forward as a single unit.  The South reentered the Union as Democratic voting states.  Around the middle of the 20th Century with the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement the South would change its political allegiance to the Republican Party.  Outside of the slavery issue the Republican Party was always the Party of business and of the well-to-do owning classes, which it is still today.  It has always been conservative, against any kind of major change within the society, and conservative in its outlook.

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Up until 1964, when Barry Goldwater lost the election to Lyndon B, Johnson, the Republican Party had both liberal and conservative elements, the two political parties tended to be close to one another.  After that the Republicans tended to move farther and farther to the right.  Even as late as 1977, when Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter became President he was more conservative than a small percentage of the Republicans.  In 1974, when Nelson Rockefeller was appointed Vice President by President Gerald Ford, the Republican Vice President was more liberal than the later President, Jimmy Carter.

 

The two group’s philosophies ran into one another and compromise between the two political parties was relatively simple.  But after the Reagan Presidency the majority of the Republicans had moved much farther to the right and the Democrats to the left.  The first group became more reactionary and the other more radical.  Total philosophical separation had begun to set in.  This would continue and increase bringing the country to where it is now, at polarization.

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In order to understand the difference between the Republicans and the Democrats one needs to draw a horizontal line across a blank sheet of paper.  Mark the center of the line.  On the right side of the line would be the Republicans and on the left, the Democrats.  As one proceeds to the far left the people become more radical, on the right the further you go they become more reactionary.  At either end either end of the line they are extreme. Radical on the left and reactionary on the right.

 

_______Democrats__________|_____Republicans__________

 

No so long ago in our history the two lines overlapped.  Now they are widely separated.   This all began in the 1964 Presidential Election when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon B. Johnson and lost by a large amount.  Goldwater carried six states and Johnson won 44.

 

Goldwater had been the leader of the Conservative Movement.  During the campaign he alienated the liberal section of the Republican Party.  He was an opponent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, arguing that it took rights away from the states.  When Communist China became a member of the United Nations in 1971 he wanted the United States to give-up its membership in that organization.  Goldwater criticized Johnson’s Administration for being soft on Communism and failing in Vietnam.  During his campaign he wanted a tougher blockade against Cuba and increased military action in Northern Vietnam to cut off supplies from China.  He indicated that he might use a nuclear bomb against North Vietnam.  On the domestic front Goldwater called for substantial cuts in social programs and he wanted social security to become optional.  He believed that the Tennessee Valley Authority should be sold to the private sector.  His political slogan was, “In Your Heart, You Know He’s Right”

 

It was at this time that Ronald Reagan entered politics with his “A Time for Choosing” speech.  He would run for the governorship of California two year later, largely on a Goldwater type platform and win.

 

These doctrines, those of the far right, were worked through the Republican Party until they dominated it.  Reagan would be elected President in 1980 and serve until 1988.  He would with some modification carry through Goldwater’s philosophy.  Currently all the potential Republican Presidential candidates are reflections of Barry Goldwater.

 

The Republican Party itself as it currently exists reminds me of the old Communist Party.  Everyone follows the Party-Line, there is no individuality.  I get the impression that the far right controls most, if not all, of the political contributions and they are spent only on proper followers of the party-line.

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The Democrats tend to be liberal; the Republicans, conservative.  Since the 1932 Presidential Election the Democrats have assumed a responsibility for those who cannot care for themselves while the Republicans hold to a position of individual responsibility.

 

Since that time many Republican presidents have also had the Democratic concept.  Dwight David Eisenhower (1953 – 1961), the first Republican president since Roosevelt’s election in 1932 considered himself a Moderate Republican.  As President he built a Federal Highway System across the United States, the Interstate Highway System; continued FDR’s New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security.  Nixon (1969- 1974), as the next elected Republican President, experimented with Price and Wage Controls during a period of rapid inflation; was the first chief executive to enforce desegregation in Southern schools; established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Clean Air Act of 1970, and made state run insurance policies available to all with income based premiums and cost sharing.

 

The next Republican President was Ronald Reagan, who served from 1981 to 1989.  He was the first far right Republican to run the United States.  Reagan, as we’ve seen, first entered politics in 1964 supporting Barry Goldwater.  In 1966 he was elected governor of California.  He successfully ran for the presidency in 1980 and served two terms.  Reagan applied Supply Side Economics (Reaganomics), a theory developed in the 1970s and disregarded after the Reagan Administration for not really working.  It held that economic growth is enhanced by investing in capital and lowering barriers on the production of goods and services; if excess goods were produced, it was believed prices would come down so they could be consumed (sold or supplied).  It sounds good but it has never worked.

 

President Reagan encouraged tax reduction to spur economic growth, control of the money supply to curb inflation, economic deregulation and reduction in government spending, which didn’t happen, as his administration raised the deficit to over a trillion dollars for the first time.  He did not believe in government regulation and, among other things, totally deregulated the banking industry.  This would slowly lead to the 2008 banking-caused Real Estate Crash and near depression.  He fought public sector labor by firing all traffic controllers when they went on strike.  He bombed Libya and mined the main harbor of Nicaragua, two countries with whom we were not at war and ended his administration with the illegal Iran-Contra Affair.  He was the first of the far right presidents.

 

The next two Republican Presidents were the Bushes, father and son.  While they were not to the far right they were both well to the right of center.  (For more comments on the Bush Presidencies read The Weiner Component #125 – The Bush Presidencies.)

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Democrats typically support a broad range of social services; many in the area of helping those who cannot, for one reason or another, provide adequately for themselves, making us all our brother’s keepers.  Republican policy is based upon self-reliance, more freedom for individuals, and a limited interference by government.  People are more responsible for themselves and their families.  Among other things they have the freedom to starve.

 

The Republicans also advocate a dominant foreign policy based upon a strong military.  Consequently their conservative far right is pro-religion, anti-bureaucracy, pro-business, pro-military, and pro-personal responsibility.  They see big government as wasteful and an obstacle to getting things done.  Ultimately they are pro-Darwinistic, believing in survival of the fittest.

 

Democrats tend to favor an active societal role for government in society and believe that such involvement can improve the quality of all the people’s lives and achieve greater opportunity and equality for all.  For example the Affordable Health Care Act can eventually gain health benefits for all.  But ultimately to the Republicans it means that it is unfair because they are helping to pay for other people’s medical care.

 

Republicans favor a more limited role for government and believe that reliance on the private sector can improve economic productivity and achieve the more important goals of freedom and self-reliance.  They are still for Supply-Side Economics.  To them environmental regulations and discrimination laws (regulations) impede economic growth.  They oppose laws that limit pollution because they increase the cost of pollution.  Ultimately Republicans lean toward individual freedoms and rights while to Democrats equality and social responsibility are more important.

 

Interestingly if you’ve read the novels of Paul Ryan’s former mentor, Ann Rand, who as a good Catholic he dropped when it was discovered that she was an atheist.  Society is divided into the elite and the mob.  The Republicans, especially the leadership and the well to do, are the elite and the Democrats support the masses or the mob.  This thinking goes back to Friedrich Nietzsche and the mid-19th Century.

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Up until the 2,200 page Federal Government funding bill that was passed at the end of 2015 the Republicans have been dominated by the far right of their political party which saw compromise as having the other side come to their position.  The choice here was to pass an actual political compromise or shut down the government.  It took nearly a year to effect this compromise.  The bill could never have passed without Democratic votes in both Houses of Congress.  In order to not shut down the Federal Government the Republicans had to legitimately compromise with the Democrats.

 

What the country, in disgust, has essentially seen since 2011, when the Republicans took over control of the House of Representatives, was gridlock in Congress.  The Affordable Health Care Act, which was initially passed in 2010 by a Democratic Congress, has been voted out of existence by the House 62 times since 2011.

 

At the end of 2015 there was true compromise, a bill to fund the government and avoid a government shut-down.  However, early in 2016 the House passed a bill, which the Senate has passed the prior year, defunding both Affordable Health Care and Planned Parenthood.  The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, announced that even though the bill would be vetoed by the President, it had passed in the Republican dominated Senate earlier in 2015.  Even though there were not enough votes to pass it over the veto when it was returned to both Houses of Congress, it was still declared a victory for the Republicans because it showed the American public what will happen in 2017 if they elect a Republican President.  He further stated that the House agenda in 2016, all 110 days it would meet, will be to pass bills that the President will veto but will state the Republican position and show the Public what will happen if they elect a Republican President.

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None of the Republican group running for the presidency strikes me as being charismatic or capable of leading the nation.  What will happen is that the Republican House will function for its three day week, be paid over $140 thousand for the three day weeks it works while attempting to embarrass the President by forcing him to issue constant vetoes.  The current one, passed the second week in January 16 will be his tenth veto in seven years.  These bills will largely disgust the Democrats and the country at large by accomplishing very little if anything.  The Republican Congress will pass well beyond gridlock for the year 2016.

 

And I wonder if Ryan and the Republicans will feel that all this will happen if Donald Trump becomes their presidential candidate?

 

 

 

 

The Weiner Component #145 – The 2016 1.145 Trillion Dollar Funding Bill & the Republican Party

Official portrait of United States House Speak...

Official portrait of United States House Speaker (R-Ohio). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In October of 2015, John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives resigned from the House, effective the end of November.  His problem was getting what he considered necessary legislation through the House of Representatives without a government shutdown.  His immediate problem was extending the debt limit, which was then over 18 trillion dollars.  Not extending it would shut down the Federal Government as it would stop all government expenditures beyond a certain point that had almost been reached.

 

The extreme right of the Republican Party wanted to defund Planned Parenthood in return for extending the Debt Limit.  President Barack Obama had stated that if this measure were tied to the bill he would veto it.  By resigning, effective a month later, Boehner removed the House of Representatives from formulating the necessary bill.  The Republican majority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, proposed a short term bill extending the Debt Limit until early December which the Senate and later the House passed.  The President commented that he would not again sign a short term bill.  The final version of the bill was passed early in December raising the Debt Limit for a period of two years.

 

The next major initial problem of the House of Representatives was finding a new Speaker.  Kevin McCarthy, the House Whip, was in line for a short period of time but he didn’t have the votes.  Eventually Paul Ryan, after initially refusing, ended up being the individual who could muster enough votes to be made the new Speaker.  He accepted after setting special conditions.

 

The next important bill was one to fund the Federal Government.  It had to be passed by December 11, 2015 if the government were not to be shut down for not legally having funds to keep operating.

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Generally, every year Congress has to pass a Bill in order to fund the U.S. Government for the oncoming year or it cannot legally pay its bills.  This Bill has to originate in the House of Representatives which, according to the Constitution, initially begins all money bills.  All that is needed is a one sentence law stating that the Federal Government shall be funded for one or more years.  Since 2011, when the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, they have used that Bill as leverage or blackmail to obtain other things that they had wanted by adding endless amendments to the Bill, many at the very last moment.

 

For example on Thursday, 12/11/14, the House of Representatives passed, what was essentially but not really a 1,603 page bipartisan 1.1 trillion dollar spending bill that will allowed the Federal Government to continue to function until September 30, 2015, the end of the fiscal year.  The bill adhered to strict caps negotiated earlier between the White House and the deficit-conscious Republicans.  It is also salted through with GOP proposals which were actually Christmas giveaways to individuals and companies and have nothing to do with the spending budget.  The bill should have been passed months earlier but it was convenient for the GOP to keep it hanging as a potential form of blackmail against President Barack Obama until the last possible moment when it had to be passed or its absence would cause a government shutdown.

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When Ronald Reagan was Governor of California he had a line-item veto over all bills passed by the State Legislature.  He could veto any section or group of sections that he thought was or were inappropriate and sign the document for the rest of the bill to become law.  But as President of the United States he could either sign a bill, veto it, or do nothing for ten days and allow it to become law.  Reagan was not too happy with this limitation but he had to accept it.  It would require an amendment to the Constitution to change this practice.

 

Not only does every bill have to be passed by both the House and Senate but both versions have to be identical.  If a word or punctuation is different, then the two versions are not the same.  Actually what happens is that the bill goes to a Committee of Congressmen dealing with that particular subject, they discuss the bill, usually modify it, and then send it to the legislative house to which they belong with their recommendations.  If it is passed then that version goes to the other legislative body, where it follows the same procedure.  In practically all cases the two versions are at least slightly different.  At that point the bill goes to a Conference Committee made up of members of the two Houses, where a final version is then hammered out.  This goes back to both Houses of Congress and it then has to be voted upon and repassed by the two Houses.  If the bill passes it then goes to the President.  After he signs it the bill becomes law.  This process generally takes at least a number of days.

 

The 1.1 Trillion Dollar Spending Bill was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday, December 11, 2014.  The Congress was slated to end its session on Friday, December 12th.  This meant that the bill had to be accepted exactly as it was if the government was not to shut down the following week when it ran out of money.  In fact a short a short extension was also passed in case a few more days were needed to pass the bill.

 

Keep in mind that according to the Constitution only the House of Representatives can initiate a money bill since initially they were the only group directly elected by the People, the Senate was originally elected by the State Legislatures. The Founders felt that taxes should be authorized by the direct Representatives of the People so that the People are, in a sense, taxing themselves.

 

Also note that there are no rules about what a bill is supposed to contain.  It can deal with one subject or any number of subjects.  This finance bill dealt with innumerable subjects, most of which had nothing to do with financing the government.

 

Because of the catastrophe caused by a government shutdown President Obama urged the Democratic controlled Senate to pass the bill even though it had numerous amendments that were harmful to individuals or groups within the country.

 

One of these amendments cancelled parts of the Dodd- Frank Act that had been passed in 2010 as a reform measure after the 2008 Bank-caused Real Estate Collapse, to avoid such occurrences in the future and to keep banks from exploiting their depositors and the taxpayers.  Presumably the lobbyists for Citibank wrote the measure and it was secretly inserted the night before the bill came up for a vote in the House of Representatives.  The insertion rolls back regulations that limit banks from using federal deposit insurance to cover high-risk financial investments.  There had been no notice given or debate on this Amendment.  Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House strongly opposed this insertion as did Senator Elizabeth Warren who called upon the Democratic majority in the Senate to oppose the entire bill if this Amendment was left in.

 

Another interesting Amendment was trading land with an Indian tribe.  A sacred mountain containing a burial ground was to be traded for another piece of land.  The sacred mountain was wanted by a company for a copper mine.

 

Another last minute Amendment dealt with campaign finance, it was extended for individuals. It went from contributions of $32,400 to $324,000.  Republicans got a 60 million dollar cut at the EPA (Environment Protection Agency) reducing their workforce to the level they had been at in 1989.

 

Not all Republicans in the House supported the bill. Many of the Tea Party members wanted to defund President Obama’s immigration executive order.  This issue was left out of the House bill.

 

In both the House and Senate the bill required the votes of both Democrats and Republicans to pass.  In the House 162 Republicans and 57 Democrats voted for the bill.  139 Democrats and 67 Republicans were against the spending bill.  In the Senate there were 31 Democrats, 24 Republicans, and 1 Independent who voted for the bill and 21 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and 1 Independent who were against it.  In both Houses of Congress it required the votes of both major political parties in order to pass.

 

Interestingly the far right and the far left both opposed this bill, both for different reasons.  On the far right, Ted Cruz wanted a section added that would limit or eradicate President Obama’s executive order dealing with illegal immigrants whose children had been born in the United States.  And on the far left, the Congressmen wanted to remove many of the giveaways that had nothing to do with the spending bill.

 

Cruz, in a procedural vote extended the Senatorial Session into the weekend.  He did not get his Amendment to the bill passed.  Harry Reed, the majority leader in the Senate, used the additional time to get a large number of Obama appointees approved beginning with the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, who had been opposed by the NRA because he had suggested earlier that guns were a disease since they killed a large number of people.  By the end of the session, Tuesday, December 15th, the Senate had approved a total of 69 controversial presidential appointments.

 

The Senate passed the Spending Bill on Saturday and President Obama quietly signed it on Tuesday.  Congress adjourned around midnight of Tuesday, December 16th and the new Congress, which would have Republican majorities in both Houses, met in January of the next year, after the holidays.

 

It is interesting to note that all that is required for the government to keep functioning is a one sentence bill that states that the Federal Government shall be properly funded for the fiscal year.  The 1,603 page bill detailing all the expenditures over the fiscal year was ridiculous.  In this bill every item that was to be funded had to be mentioned in detail.  For example: Vice President, Joe Biden’s and other top officials in the government’s salaries were frozen.  There was no automatic raise for them that was put into law several years earlier but the members of Congress  got their cost of living raise, raising their pay to over $140,000 each.

 

What happened originally was that several years earlier Congress had voted itself a raise.  The press got hold of the news and published it.  People were indignant over Congress giving itself an increase in salary when everyone else was hurting financially.  There was a protest and the increase was rescinded.  Thereafter Congress quietly passed a law making pay increases for Congress and government officials automatic.  From then on there was no protest or even public knowledge that this was occurring.  In 2014 Congress has voted through its 1,603 page bill not to freeze its own salary but to do so to the Vice President and other high government officials in the Administration.  How petty could they get?

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In December of 2015 the Federal Government funding situation was far different from what it had been a year earlier.  For one thing there was a major Presidential Election coming up in a little less than a year.  A government shutdown at this point could have dire consequences for the Republicans in the election if they were blamed for it.  Also the people had had enough of the shenanigans that the Republican House of Representatives had pulled since 2011 when they took control of the House of Representatives.  The President and the Democrats in both Houses of Congress were not about to go along with what the Republicans had pulled the preceding year. And they would need Congressional Democratic votes to pass any spending bill in both Houses of Congress.

 

The 2015 omnibus bill, 2,200 pages long, incorporated legislation from twelve subcommittees and was the work of nearly a year.  There had been months of negotiations between the two major parties.  The bill passed in the House with 316 positive votes to 113 negative ones.  150 Republicans supported the measure and 95 opposed it.  50 members did not vote.  Among the Democrats, 166 voted for the legislation, 18 voted against it.

 

On both extremes there were Congressmen who thought the bill did not go far enough or that it went too far in the wrong direction.  Many conservatives felt it overspent, didn’t go far enough blocking abortions and Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S.  Liberals felt that the bill did nothing to address the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, did not positively enough effect environmental concerns, and that it lifted a 40 year ban on exporting domestic oil export.

 

The bill funds the United States Government through September of 2016, nine months.  The probability is that another bill will be easily passed at that time to fund the government at least until the end of 2016.  The country will be too close to the 2016 Presidential Election for any games to be tried at that time.

 

But if a Democrat wins the 2016 Presidential Election and the Republicans retain control of the House of Representatives, the December 2016 Government Financing Bill should prove very interesting.  Who the next President will be will not be known until the November 2016 Presidential Election is over.

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This omnibus bill will be noted for what it left out, rather than for what it included.  There is no mention of Planned Parenthood or of the Syrian refugee crisis; nor of numerous other things that were important to both political parties.  Speaker Ryan promised the Democrats that the House would deal with the Puerto Rico Debt Crisis in March; that brought a number of Democrats into line to support the bill.  Ryan also spread-out the decision making process so that many members of Congress felt that they owned parts of the bill.

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Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, was asked why the Democrats hadn’t pushed harder.  Her answer was, “I don’t think they would have passed it.”  The implications are that both the Democrats and the Republicans had each gone as far as they could in working out this compromise piece of legislation.  As a result of the negotiations neither side could claim victory or defeat.  Both had squeezed the other side as hard as they could.  President Obama praised the Republicans for doing what Congress has done so well in the past, compromising to the point of hammering out a bill both sides could live with.

 

The Democrats considered the permanent reauthorization of the 9/11 Health legislation a major win.  As a result of the 9/11 destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City a large number of the rescuers had breathed in toxic dust and, those who had not since died from resulting cancer and other maladies, still had expensive medical needs.  Reauthorizing this medical coverage would help a large number of people.  Lifting the 40 year ban on oil drilled in the U.S. being sold outside it continental borders was called by Ryan a big win.  Republicans also were able to block proposed bans on weapon purchases by people on federal terrorist lists and also federally funded research on gun violence.

 

Perhaps the most important thing that the bill did was to do away with the automatic Sequester cuts for 2015.  These cuts, which would have automatically gone into effect early in 2016, would have seriously hurt government efficiency for both defense and non-defense programs, across the board.  The military budget was actually increased above what it had been the prior year.  And this was also true for a number of other programs.  The White House was touting tax breaks for the wind and solar programs.  In all there were $680 billion in tax cuts for both businesses and individuals.  But sequestration is still there and will automatically come into being at the end of 2016 unless new legislation is passed then to stop or end it.

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Does this legislation denote a new feeling of friendliness between the two political parties?  I think not.  What it demonstrates is a wide division between both Democrats and Republicans.  It took nearly a year to come up with this 2,200 page detailed bill and make it acceptable to both political parties.  Neither party was strong enough to push any of this legislation through on its own; it required a joint effort to pass it.

 

If anything it denotes the great distance between our political parties.  Speaker Ryan has recently commented that the House will soon take up defunding Obamacare. That will mean that this bill will have been passed over 50 times without once being taken up in the Senate.  Considering that the House will officially only meet for 110 days in 2016 that is spending a lot of time upon a bill that will go nowhere.  Ryan stated that, outside of the increasing number of people signing up for the service, the bill is a failure.  Interestingly outside of his statement he offered no evidence other than his word.

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The December 11th deadline for this bill to pass was extended one week to Friday, December 18.  Directly after the bill was passed in the House of Representatives it was sent to the Senate where it was passed.  From there it was sent to the President, who signed it with positive remarks for the compromise legislation.  Obviously the Government shutdown was avoided.

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It should be noted that on Wednesday, December 6th the    House of Representatives, under Speaker Paul Ryan’s leadership, passed a bill for the 62d time defunding Obamacare and stripping Planned Parenthood of Federal Funding.  The bill was passed in the Senate last year through a special provision that avoided a filibuster in the Senate and was sent to the President for the first time.  On Friday, December 8, two days later, it was vetoed by the President, who stated that the Affordable Health Care Act had helped millions of Americans who couldn’t otherwise afford Health Care.  Republicans do not have the votes to override the veto.  Still they claimed victory, claiming that they had passed a repeal bill and that they are keeping a promise to voters in an election year.  They stated that they are capable of repealing the law if a Republican wins in the November election.  I wonder if that’s true if Donald Trump were to become the next president.

 

Of course they would still have to keep control of both Houses of Congress.  2016 promises to be a colorful year in Congress.  We may go beyond gridlock.  This should be particularly true with the House working a three day week and taking a four day weekend and all holidays.

Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Weiner Component #140D – Congress: Fiscal Policy & the Infrastructure

Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait as Pre...

Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait as President. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the greatest problems facing the United States today is the fact that most of its infrastructure was built in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  By definition the infrastructure is the basic physical systems of the cities, states, and country.  Largely our local cities, states and nation have acted as though they will last forever with little or no maintenance, repair, or modernization.  If something breaks down it is generally fixed.  In essence this nation has taken a Band-Aid approach to maintaining our infrastructure and as a result yearly the country falls farther and farther behind as its infrastructure slowly rots or becomes obsolete.

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It should be noted that when an individual buys a new automobile he knows or will quickly learn that the vehicle will need constant maintenance over its lifetime or it will stop functioning.  The same can be said for the basic apparatuses of our cities, states, and country as a whole.  Their roads, bridges, water supply, school buildings, transit systems, sewerage disposal facilities, electric grid, ports, airports, dams, etc. also need occasional replacement as they become obsolete or continual maintenance over their lifetimes otherwise they will eventually grow out of date or stop functioning, or, for that matter, both of the above.  All of these are called the infrastructure that allows the community, cities, states, and nation to function.  When they partially or completely break down there is chaos.  How come most people are responsible when it comes to their individual possessions but irresponsible when it comes to their communities of nation?

 

Specific responsibility for these entities can be local government or privates industry or a combination of these.  It can also be state government.  In the final analysis the ultimate responsibility rests with the lawmaking body of the National Government, the Congress.  They are responsible for the overall functioning of the nation.  They alone have the resources available, financial and otherwise to modernize, repair, or rebuild parts and pieces of the infrastructure, to provide for the needs of the entire nation.

 

Cities and states follow a system of microeconomics.  They have an income, the fees and taxes they collect.  If they have to spend more than they collect then they can issue tax-free long term, bonds to finance the project, usually a 30 year low interest, tax-free bond.  They are limited as to how many of these they can issue by their projections of their incomes over the next three decades.  The Federal Government does not have this problem.  They utilize macroeconomics and can issue money as needed.  They are also limited as to how much they can issue, but their limitation goes far beyond what any state or city can do.

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Because the problem currently seems insurmountable it has been largely ignored on virtually every level of government and keeps getting worse with each passing year.  In the third Republican 2016 Presidential Debate in early November of 2015 several of the potential candidates commented on the infrastructure, stating that it was the responsibility of the states and local governments to solve these problems, that the Federal Government should not be involved.  This is passing the buck or dropping the rock.  The cost of solving this problem is in the trillions of dollars.  No city or state can afford to do more than light maintenance of this problem.  The statement itself by potential candidates like Ted Cruz denotes total ignorance of the problem or total cynicism toward it.  No city or state can sell trillions of dollars’ worth of tax-free 30 year bonds and hope to be able to pay them off and operate the government at the same time.

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The city of Pittsburgh is known as the city of bridges, both highway and railroad bridges.  Most of them are old, nearing the end of their useful lives.  There are over 4,000 bridges in the city.  Over 20% of them are structurally deficient.  This includes one located as part of the city’s main arteries.  This bridge was built in 1928 when cars and trucks were lighter.  It was designed to last 50 years.  It is now 86 years old.  Five million people use it daily.  The bridge connects the northern and southern sections of the city.  It should have been replaced years ago.  At one point structural damage was discovered on the bridge.  It was closed for two weeks while structural repairs were made on that section causing great hardship to the people of Pittsburgh.  An arch bridge in the city had a platform type structure built under it to catch falling concrete which would otherwise hit traffic underneath it.

 

In Minnesota in 2007 a bridge collapsed, that was over 50 years old, killing 13 people and injuring another 145.  The antiquated Skagit River Bridge in Washington State collapsed last year after a truck hit one of its trusses.

 

The overall cost of repairing and replacing the needed bridges in Pittsburgh has been estimated at being over two trillion dollars.  It has been estimated that about one of every nine bridges in the country, about 70,000 of them are considered structurally deficient.  Some have had a section collapse.  Essentially repair has been done on a band aid basis, just repairing the damaged section.

 

The majority of airports in the United States are out of date.  They need to be modernized.  The majority of seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete as the ocean going ships gradually increase in size and number.  A report from the American Society of Civil Engineers states that 32 percent of the main American roads are now in poor condition and in need of major repairs.

 

In 1956 Congress passed and President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed a bill establishing the Highway Trust Fund.  The law directed federal fuel tax to the fund to be used exclusively for highway construction and maintenance.  Over the years both Democratic and Republican presidents have increased the tax to 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel.

 

In 2008 the fund required an additional $8 billion dollars from general revenue funds to cover shortages brought about by the recession of that year and higher gas prices.  It seems that from that year on there has been less driving and more efficient vehicles that used less gas for greater mileage.  Since 2008 Congress has authorized $65 billion from the General Fund of the U.S. Treasury to keep the Trust Fund solvent.  These monies go to all the individual states in the form of block grants and are more or less matched by state spending.

 

The Highway Trust Fund is only authorized to spend money through November 20, 2015.  In August of 2015 the Senate passed a six year highway bill.  The Republican House of Representatives ignored the bill and went into recess.  During the summer a short term $8 billion spending bill was passed by the House extending infrastructure spending until November 20th. Early in November the House passed a six year highway bill which they only funded for three years by a bipartisan vote of 363 to 64.  It was the new Speaker, Paul Ryan’s, first major accomplishment.  The bill has to be reconciled in a Conference Committee with the Senate or voted on by that body as it stands and signed by the President before it becomes law.  One comment on the bill is that it is a six year bill that is only funded for three years.

 

The basic problem with this bill, as with most bills dealing with the infrastructure is that the funding is mostly inadequate; it helps more or less maintain the system but it is never adequate to bring about the fully needed repairs or replacement.  If we take Mississippi as our example then in 2012, a national report found that that state had an estimated $30 billion in highway and bridge needs but had at most $15.3 billion to meet these expenses.  This is true for every single state in the nation.

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Today public spending on infrastructure has fallen to its lowest level since 1947.  The U.S. which used to have the finest infrastructure in the world is now ranked 16th according to the World Economic Forum.  It is behind Iceland, Spain, Portugal and the United Arab Emirates.  Many large corporations like Caterpillar and GE have complained that it’s hurting their ability to compete abroad.  The conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce at a Senate hearing early in 2015 expressed strong business support for raising the gasoline tax.

 

In addition to roads and bridges and the gas tax there is aviation.  Throughout the United States there is a shortage of airport runways and gates along outmoded air traffic control systems.  These have made U.S. air travel the most congested in the world.

 

Around the industrial world there are over 14,000 miles of high speed railroads operating around the world but none in the United States.  In Chicago it can take a freight train nearly as long to go across the city as it would take a high speed train to go from Chicago to Los Angeles.

 

In New Jersey there is an old railroad bridge, the Portal Bridge, going over the Hackensack River that was built in 1910.  It gets almost 500 trains a day and is one of the busiest bridges in the country.  The bridge was based upon a design from the 1840s and was obsolete shortly after it was completed over 100 year ago.  It is a swinging bridge that needs to be opened several times a week to allow river traffic to pass.  Its major problem is that it doesn’t always lock when it is swung back and rail traffic can back up infinitely in both directions while is being made usable again.  The bridge has to be replaced.  The project would cost just under a billion dollars.  A new bridge was designed two years ago in 2013.  Everyone agrees it has to be replaced but there is no consensus or political support from Congress to raise the necessary funds.  Its eventual failure could stop traffic in the Northeast.

 

As far as the seaports go we now have a new generation of large cargo ships that will be going through an expanded Panama Canal in another year or so.  On the East coast only two ports of the 14 major ports will be dredged deep enough to accommodate these ships.  Do we then limit all foreign traffic to these two ports?  And if we do then how rapidly can these ships be unloaded and reloaded?

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We have mostly looked at forms of transportation that are a major part of the infrastructure but far from all of it.  There is also maintaining drinking water quality throughout the nation, dams and dikes that are essentially obsolete, extension of power grids, modernizing public school laboratories and structures, plus a number of other factors that allow the society to function.

 

In the winter of 2014 – 2015 a section of the national power grid froze and ceased functioning.  A section of this country was one step away from losing electric power.  We have not been that lucky in the following year.  A section of the northwest, Washington State, lost power during a period of freeze.  Conditions could still get worse in the near future.  Do we have to wait for additional crises before any action is taken?

 

Actions will have to occur at some point.  Now is considered a good time since interest rates are low and estimates indicate that these projects would generally pay for themselves in the near future.  This will be increased employment, there will be more productivity, a greater GDP, and more collected in taxes on every level of government.

 

Some of it can be done by having local and state governments team up with the private sector.  There are currently such projects in 33 states.  These arrangements are called P3s (public-private partnerships).  They are popular abroad.  But their financial effect is limited according to the extent of the infrastructure needs.  Only Congressional action can bring about substantial improvement.

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The two major weapons that the Federal Government has to fight economic recession or a major depression are Fiscal Policy and Monetary Policy.  Fiscal Policy is carried out by the Congress and Monetary Policy is done by the Federal Reserve.  Since 2011, when the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives, there has been no real Fiscal Policy.  If anything, with one exception in late 2015, Congress has largely ignored this responsibility.  The Federal Reserve, under the leadership of its former Chairman, Ben Bernanke, with support from the President, had used creative Monetary Policy to move the country toward economic recovery from the late 2008 Real Estate Crash.  The country is still in the process of recovering.

In March 2012 the Treasury Department published, “A New Economic Analysis of Infrastructure Investment.”  This multipage document explained all the advantages of infrastructure investment, also detailing programs the President was trying to initiate.  From what I understand the issue was never even raised in the Republican dominated House of Representatives.

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In the 19th Century being a Congressman was a part time job.  The Congress met for only a few months and passed all the necessary laws for the year and then adjourned.  The President spent the entire year running the country but Congress only met for a few months.  The House of Representatives have again reached that point except that they have stretched it out over the entire year.

 

The current schedule calls for the House of Representatives to meet for 111 days over their fiscal year.  They work three days a week and take a four day weekend.  They have extended all their holiday breaks by half again as many days as they used to take.  And for this they are paid $170,000 per year.  All this at a time when the nation is seething in problems, many of which they have no time and probably no inclination to consider.

 

The new Speaker, Paul Ryan, has a bed in his office and lives there the short week he is in Washington and, from what I understand, spends his four day weekends home in Wisconsin with his wife and young children.  That was part of his agreement in becoming Speaker.  The rest was to pacify the conservative elements in his party.

 

What will happen in Congress is anybody’s guess.  I would suppose the country is stuck with these Republican majorities for another full year.  How much will this Congress achieve?  To me that’s an interesting and frightening question.  I don’t expect much.

 

What happens in the 2016 Presidential Election is up to the public voters, whose vote has not been suppressed in Republican dominated states.  We know in a recent Midterm Election the Democrats cast more votes for members of the House than the Republicans did but through earlier gerrymandering the Republicans were still able to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives.

 

What will the attitude of the current Congress be toward the infrastructure?  Ted Cruz and some of the other potential Republican Presidential candidates stated in their third debate that it should be the province of the states.  The states are investing less and less money into infrastructure as their other costs increase, especially their unfunded retirement costs.  Hopefully no additional major infrastructure disasters will occur during the winter of 2015 – 2016.

 

If we ask ourselves how Congress does get away with its current attitude or attitudes?  The answer is quite obvious.  This action and a number of other things Congress does is essentially invisible to the general public.  The media does not consider these items as newsworthy.  They are not really dealt with or dramatically brought before the public.  The concept of the infrastructure itself tends to be more abstract than concrete.  If something specific happens and there is a public hue and cry about it then something is quickly done to resolve the problem.  But as a small piece of information that can be dug up with some effort it is not that important.  While Congress should be concentrating on all these problems they ignore them until they are specifically brought to their attention.  Basically the thinking is that the country has done well and will continue to do so if left alone.

 

An example of this was sequestration, a law passed two years ago to cut government spending across the board.  An immediate result was enhanced waiting time at all the airports as the number of air controllers was immediately cut back.  The complaints were loud and vociferous.  Within a day or so

Seal of the United States Department of the Tr...

Seal of the United States Department of the Treasury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congress had passed a law exempting the air traffic controllers from sequestration.  The military in late 2015 had reached a point where its efficiency was drastically effected by sequester cuts.  This problem was resolved when the debt limit was raised.  Refunding the military became part of that deal. Generally once members of the public are inconvenienced or the change will obviously effect the country change is quickly brought about.  But until that time nothing is done.  In a sense we are waiting for obvious crisis to occur before positive change is brought about on parts of the infrastructure.

 

 

 

 

 

Congress & the Problems of the United States: Are We Getting Our Money’s Worth?

English: Breakdown of political party represen...

English: Breakdown of political party representation in the United States House of Representatives during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican This SVG file was originally hand-written. It contains comments suggesting how to amend it to reflect future changes in Congress. Inkscape reads this file as corrupted, thus changes must be made with a text editor or other program and checked with a browser. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are 435 members of the House of Representatives.  Their combined salaries, taken together is $73,950,000 taxpayer dollars per year.  Of these 247 currently are Republicans.  They receive $41,990,000 taxpayer dollars in compensation for serving in the House of Representatives.  Of these 247 House members 40 belong to the Freedom Caucus.  They make up the ultra-conservative far right end of the party.  These people understand compromise as the other side coming to their position; to them anything else in largely unacceptable.

 

On the issue of passing a bill to continue to fund the government the Freedom Caucus, which is made up of Tea Partiers, plus a number of other Republicans had refused to act until funding Planned Parenthood was removed from the bill.  If Planned Parenthood were removed from the bill President Barak Obama stated he would veto the proposed new law.  This brought about the resignation of the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, at the end of September, effective October 31st.  A bill was brought through the Senate and later, the House, continuing the funding of the government through December.  In each case with heavy Democratic participation.  There were not enough Republicans supporting it in either House for the bill to pass without Democratic support.

 

As an aside, the evidence presumably proving Planned Parenthood was guilty of breaking the law in performing abortions and selling fetus tissue for research was highly edited video tapes that were the equivalent of a man entering a house, then in the next scene he or someone entered an apartment, greeted a woman, the camera would switch to an image of a bedroom, and finally the man would exit the house, presumably in the morning.  This was the level of the edited video evidence presented against Planned Parenthood, which the anti-abortion groups took as absolute proof.  In addition some of the video were made by paid actors, hired by an anti-abortion group, discussing the sale of fetus parts.   Planned Parenthood has been investigated numerous times by Congressional Standing Committees and others and has never been legally proven of doing anything illegal.

 

To get back to our primary subject, what we spend on Congress and what we are now getting in return.  If we include the Senate in the cost we are adding an additional $170,000 one hundred times, that’s 17 million dollars.  This does not include the fact that each congressperson in either House has a staff in Washington that can employ up to eighteen permanent members and have an office in their home state.  We are spending well in excess of ½ billion dollars annually upon our law-makers.  For this, especially since they take an oath to uphold the Constitution, we should be able to expect them to do their jobs.  Are they passing laws that help the country develop and prosper?  Are they doing things to lower unemployment?  Is the country moving forward to a better tomorrow?  Are they repaying the taxpayers for electing them to office or are they serving their large contributors who have funded their political campaigns or are many carrying out their own specific agendas?

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My impression is that most, if not all, of the Republicans elected to Congress have no real understanding of what makes up economics; that they think of the Federal Government functioning on the same level as their households, that so much money comes in every month and once that’s gone the government has to borrow money to spend more, and that additional money has to eventually be paid back.  That is how Microeconomics (small economics) works but that is not how the Federal Government works.

 

The Federal Government, all national governments for that matter, operate under the principles of Macroeconomics (Big Economics).  There is today nothing behind the dollar but the word of the National Government; they own the printing presses.  Money has no intrinsic value today; the government can print any amount it wishes.  They do this by legislating the amount that can be printed and the Federal Reserve determines when, if, and how much to release to the banks.  Money to the Federal Government is a tool that is supposed to be used to enhance productivity within the country.  Its expenditure has nothing to do with its taxable income.  The true value or wealth of the country is the goods and services produced within a fiscal year determined in terms of dollars and cents.

 

If the members of Congress do not understand this concept then they are working against the welfare of the nation.  They are not doing what they were elected to do, run the country positively.  What has existed since the House of Representatives achieved a Republican majority in 2011 has essentially been inaction, or when legislation occurred it has been mainly to hamper economic recovery.

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From the year 2008 on the major banks, first in the United States and then throughout most of the Industrial world, were suddenly on the point of collapse.  In the U.S. one trillion dollars of real estate value disappeared virtually overnight.  The major banking houses were suddenly facing ruin, were ready to go under.  They had speculated in real estate from the 1980s on to the point of insanity in late 2008.  Overnight there was massive unemployment; many people’s homes had larger mortgages than they were then worth.  The country was on the brink of a massive depression.  Banking in the U.S. could conceivably diminish to a trickle.

 

First in 2008, when this madness, brought about by the large banks, both commercial and investment banks occurred, George W. Bush and his Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, made massive loans to the banking houses; then this was continued by President Barak Obama in 2009.  Some investment and commercial banks were allowed to go under, their loans and deposits taken over by other big banking houses; but most were saved with additional loans.  (If you’re interested in the specifics of what happened Ben Bernanke the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, has just published a book dealing with all of this.)

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What have the Republicans achieved?  In 2011, through a process known as gerrymandering, favorably setting up voting districts in states they controlled politically, based upon the party registration of the voters, they were able to gain control of the House of Representatives, and they have kept it ever since.  In the Senate they gained control in 2014.  They could conceivably lose it in 2016 when 1/3d of the Senate will run for reelection.

 

The Republican prospective in dealing with the Real Estate Disaster has been to ignore it.  Mitt Romney, when he ran as the Republican Candidate in 2012, spoke about doing away with the banking reform bills passed after the 2008 Crash.  It seems that one of his goals was to bring America back to where it was before the 2008 Disaster.  Fortunately he didn’t get elected or we might be back to the Crash now with the major banking houses again destroying the economy.

 

Since they gained control of the House of Representatives in 2011 the Republicans in the House of Representatives and, for that matter, also in the Senate have strictly followed a policy of Microeconomics (small economics), attempting to run the country as they each run their own households.  The result of this from 2011 on has been to exacerbate the recession, costing additional hundreds of thousands of jobs lost throughout the United States in the federal and state governments and in the general population from monies not spent by these unemployed former government employees.  They have done everything possible to worsen the overall situation.  Luckily the President and the Federal Reserve, despite the Republican actions, have been able to generally put the country well in the direction of economic reform.  The cost of this has been a 53% increase in the National Debt spent by President Barak Obama during his first six years in office.  This included an economic stimulus package, both cutting taxes and extending unemployment benefits to avoid another Great Depression.  He has also increased defense spending and brought about the Parent Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

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The National Debt is now 18.4 trillion dollars.  If we go back to the Republican Presidency of Ronald Reagan we get a good idea of why it is so high now.  When Reagan became President in 1981 the National Debt was just under one trillion dollars.  His great fear was that the Soviet Union was militarily ahead of the United States.  He wanted to militarily catch up to them and possibly get ahead of them.  In eight years he added 1.86 trillion dollars, over 100% to the 998 billion debt level bringing it up to well over 2 trillion dollars.

 

In point of fact we actually were well ahead of the Soviet Union in our military preparedness.  The Soviet Union bankrupted itself trying to keep up with the United States.  The problem with the U.S. was that the leadership instinctively knew how well armed the Soviets were and that the contrary information that the government intelligence agencies could provide was supposedly inaccurate and ignored.

 

Under George H.W. Bush, through faulty or stupid use of diplomats, the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, got the impression that he could invade Kuwait and the United States would ignore the incident.  After the invasion we had operation Desert Storm.  This war could have been avoided with proper use of diplomacy.  Bush Sr. added 1.554 trillion dollars to the National Debt, an addition 54% in just 4 years as president.

 

Interestingly, I would suspect in reprisal, Saddam Hussein attempted to have George H.W.  Bush assassinated.  The attempt failed.  But apparently his oldest son never forgot this fact.

 

The National Debt increased under Bill Clinton but during the last year of his second term he not only balanced the budget he also reduced the Debt slightly.

 

Shortly after George W. Bush became President he got the U.S. involved in two wars: one in Afghanistan as a result of the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City and another one in Iraq because, I would suspect, to get even with Saddam Hussein for attempting to kill his “daddy.”  The intelligence agencies in the U.S. felt, I understand, that the “weapons of mass destruction” theory or belief was pure fantasy.  Bush Jr. in eight years added 5.849 trillion to the National Debt increasing the National Debt 101% during his eight year period as president.  A good part of this money was spent fighting a pointless war which destabilized the Middle East and brought into existence such groups as ISIS and what seems hopeless confusion and endless civil war that we are stuck with today in the Middle East.

 

While Obama increased the Debt another 53%, 6.167 trillion dollars, during his first six years in office he did so to keep the country from falling into a deep depression, which had been gradually brought about by doing away with banking restriction laws that had been passed from 1933 on, during the years of the Reagan Presidency.  Reagan and his group apparently believed in a Free Market economy; with all economic decisions being made by the actions of the market.  He allowed the big banking houses, with no Government controls to create a maelstrom.

 

Despite all the Microeconomic moves of the Republican House of Representatives during the first six years of the Obama Presidency he has largely worked the nation toward economic recovery.  Had the Republicans understood basic economics the country could now be undergoing a period of full employment with a much higher tax base that might even be high enough to start reducing the National Debt.

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Other questions loom up here: What exactly is the National Debt?  How does it affect the nation?

 

According to a member of the Freedom Caucus who was interviewed on MSNBC he would vote for Paul Ryan as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives when the current one, John Boehner, leaves at the end of October 2015 if he would acknowledge the seriousness of the National Debt, over 18 trillion dollars, and work to reduce it rather than allow the country to continue to move toward bankruptcy.

 

This seems to be a basic value of most Republicans.  They don’t acknowledge that their party was mainly responsible in raising the National Debt to where it is today.  They seem to blame it on the Democrats and want to reduce Federal Government nonessential spending, particularly spending on the poor and aged.

 

This attitude keeps the country on the edge of disaster seemingly going from legislative crisis to legislative crisis.  The Debt Limit bill that was passed with strong Democratic help after the Speaker, John Boehner resigned from the House of Representatives.  In it Congress had to raise the current Debt Limit or face default by legally running out of money with which to pay its bills.  The Treasury Department had stated that Congress must raise the debt limit beyond 18.1 trillion dollars or not be able to meet all its bills by November 3, 2015.  That crisis was resolved in both Houses of Congress with help from the Democrats.  Also in both Houses of Congress funding the Federal Government will come up again in December.  Will Planned Parenthood again create a crisis there?

 

Former Speaker Boehner was able to get such a bill raising the National Debt through Congress before his Speakership ended and only with Democratic help.  The same holds true with the Senate.  The bill was for two years.  President Obama had stated that he will veto any short term bills.

 

The National Debt consists of two parts, one public and one private.  The public part of the Debt is owned in various ways by the Federal Government and is held by the Federal Reserve and such entities as Social Security that currently holds probably over 3 trillion dollars’ worth of these securities, Medicare, the Federal Savings and Loan Corporation Resolution Fund, as well as a number of other government agencies.  These debts held by governmental accounts represent cumulative surpluses, including interest earnings of these accounts.  In 2012 there were at least two direct transfers of 89 billion dollars from the FED to the Treasury that constituted interest paid on the National Debt.

 

The Federal Government admits to owning 40% of its own debt.  The probability is that it is more like 50% or 60% of the money it owes.  For example, besides massive unemployment and the loss of value of the dollar in the 2008 Real Estate Crash there was an intense mortgage problem: since a very large percentage of the mortgages issued had been broken up into microscopic size and the pieces issued by innumerable Hedge Funds into countless securities, the question that arose was who owned all that mortgage paper?

 

At first the bank computers generated documents and most of the banks foreclosed upon homes they did not own.  After this was discovered the banks stopped the foreclosures.  Then the question arose: Who did own these properties?  The answer was no one.  Each property could have been divided into hundreds of pieces, each issued to a different Hedge Fund.  It should have taken twenty of more years to straighten out this mess.  The housing industry, both old and newly constructed homes, would have been in a state of practical nonexistence.  Many older homes whose mortgages were far above their actual value had been deserted by their former owners and stayed empty, and construction companies would have found it nearly impossible to fund their projects.

 

By the Federal Reserve stepping into this problem and dealing with it they were able to largely resolve it in a period of just a few years.  I would guess that the price of resolving this problem cost the Federal Government well over ½ trillion dollars.  What the FED bought was trillions of fractional pieces of mortgage paper that the banks had created over a thirty year period.  Sorting them out would have been unbelievably expensive and probably totally impracticable.

 

Using imaginative monetary policy Ben Bernanke, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, over a period of several years, solved this problem by pumping billions of dollars into the economy.  For a period of well over two years.  The Fed pumped 85 billion dollars into the economy monthly.  Forty billion bought back Government loans and Forty-five billion bought mortgage paper from all 50 states, literally trillions of mortgage pieces each month.   What happened to all this mortgage paper?  The probability is nothing.  It would have been prohibitive to sort all these microscopic pieces of mortgages.  An even then it would have required over 50% of the pieces for any action to be legally taken against the homeowner.  The banks had been in such a rush to continually refinance these properties that record keeping became farcical.

 

I would suspect that after two or three years most, if not all, of the deserted homes were sold for back unpaid taxes.  As for the people who stayed in their homes and couldn’t afford the continued payments, they probably waited for foreclosure that never came.  These people could no longer legally deduct their home interest from their income taxes but they still had quite a bit of extra income which they freely spent adding to the National Cash Flow, and encouraging more employment, within the United States.

 

The private section of the National Debt, the forty billion spent monthly, is money previously borrowed for short to long periods of time by the Federal Government from individuals, both in the United States and foreign countries, by foreign nations, and by numerous other entities.  By this action the Federal Government both allowed long term purchasers of this government paper to purchase long term paper at higher rates of interest and cash them out almost at will.  This process allowed the Federal Government to add all this money to the National Cash Flow continuously for this period.

 

The amount of money available to the public grew at an expediential rate.  Interestingly there was no inflationary increase with all these billions of dollars added to public spending.  Instead this Creative Monetary Policy of the Federal Reserve largely solved the bank mortgage disaster of 2008, made more cash available for economic growth, and moved the nation well into the direction of economic recovery by 2015 from the Real Estate Disaster.

 

It is also well to keep in mind that pretty much the same result could have been achieved, probably at a lower cost, by Congress passing fiscal policy as was requested by President Obama during the third year of his presidency, 2011.  This bill and others that could have been passed later would also have modernized much of our infrastructure and moved this country into the 21st Century.  But the Republicans in Congress have done nothing to really help the country or the bulk of its population.  If anything they have been penny wise and dollar stupid.

 

If the question were raised: Have we as a nation gotten our money’s worth from the ½ billion or so we spend to keep Congress functioning?  The answer is definitely negative.  In fact the situation seems to continually get worse.  With the retirement of the current Speaker of the House of Representatives will the new Speaker, Paul Ryan, be able to get positive legislation passed?  Being a very conservative Republican will he want to do this?

 

The question is currently up in the air.  The Republicans have 247 representatives out of 435.  But 40 of them belong to the Freedom Caucus.  The majority of them presumably support Ryan.  But they are far more conservative than the very conservative 207 other conservative Republicans.  In order to elect a new Speaker 218 affirmative votes were needed.  Ryan was willing to be Speaker if the Freedom Caucus  backed him as Speaker.  The majority of them have voted for him.  What will happen?

 

Meanwhile what about the bill funding the government that has to be passed before the middle of December?  The Treasury will not be able to legally pay the Governments bills unless the funding bill is passed by December of 2015.  It has been kicked down the road for three months.  If the Republicans insist that funding Planned Parenthood be removed from the bill President Obama will veto it.  Also if it is again a short term bill the President will also veto it. What will Ryan do?  What will he want to do?  It was Ryan who originally proposed using the leverage of necessary bills to force its agenda upon the President.

The Weiner Component #140A – Congress: How it Works & Doesn’t Work

English: First page of Constitution of the Uni...

According to the United States Constitution, Article I: the legislative, law making power, is given to a bicameral, law-making, Congress that consists of two Houses: the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Only they have the power to make laws that have to be identical when passed by both Houses of Congress and then signed by the President.

 

Originally the House was directly elected by the people and the Senate, which was supposed to represent the states, was elected by the legislatures of each individual state.  In 1913 this was changed by the 17th Amendment to the Constitution which had the people of each state directly elect the Senators, making them directly responsible to all the people of their respective states.

 

In the Constitution all financial bills have to originate in the House of Representatives.  This was put in so that the direct representatives of the people who paid the taxes could feel responsible for all government expenditures.  Even though the 17th Amendment changed this the power still rests with the House as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives recently stated in an interview.

 

House members serve for a two year term and then have to be reelected for another two year term.  Senators are elected for a six year period and can then stand for reelection if they so desire.  All members in both Houses are currently paid $170,000 a year for their services.

 

Today the number of legislators in the House of Representatives is fixed at 435.  Every ten years an enumeration of the population is taken and the seats are reassigned to the election districts within the states based upon increases in and/or population changes which may then redefine the election districts both in number and size within the individual states.  This was last done in 2010 and those states that had Republican legislator majorities redrew their districts in terms of their political favor by blatantly gerrymandering.  In fact in the 2012 Election over a million and ¼ more Democrats voted nationally for House Representatives but the Republicans emerged with majority representation in the House of Representatives because of favoring their party in creating the allowable number of election districts within their states.  Currently there are 247 Republicans in the House and 188 Democrats.  Each of the smaller states, even if their entire population is below the count for representatives in the larger states ate entitled to at least one representative in the House.  There are also six non-voting members representing Washington, D.C and most of the territories belonging to the United States.

 

In the Senate there are 100 members representing the fifty states.  The number of senators can be increased if additional states are added to the union.  As stated the Senators today represent the people of the entire state they come from and are elected by the entire voting population of each individual state.

 

One of the basic concepts of our country is the concept of compromise.  Without this ability our founding fathers would never have been able to bring forth the Constitution.  A document that established a government between the 13 states that were both free and slave, large and small, based with beliefs and basic values that were literally miles apart.  The current Congress seems to have lost that ability.  In fact if the current congressmen had to write a constitution today they would be unable to do it and the country would end up at best as a group of small federations.

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What always struck me as a basic concept of our form of government was best stated in a quote from Benjamin Franklin, which he wrote in all seriousness.  “In free governments the rulers are the servants and the people their superiors and sovereigns.  For the former therefore to return among the later was not to degrade but to promote them.”   Somehow this concept has become lost, particularly to many of the current Republicans in both Houses of Congress.

 

All of our members of Congress, according to Article VI of the Constitution take an oath, upon becoming a member of Congress, to uphold the Constitution.  Somehow, of late, I get the impression that many of our legislators have either forgotten or never understood this concept.  I also get the feeling that in the minds of many of our Republican legislators that the people’s function is merely to keep them in office so that they can force their will or agendas upon the nation.  And if these hard-core Republicans cannot get what they want then what exists is total gridlock, which is what seems to exist in the House of Representatives at the current time.

 

To the Tea Partiers among the Republicans in the House of Represenatives the country will function their way or not at all.  The fact that they and possibly their constituents constitute a minority of the population is immaterial.  Even though a Democratic Republic is supposed to be ruled by the will of the majority of the population they believe absolutely that they are right and everyone else is wrong or misinformed.  This is all very reminiscent of the old Communist Party where all the members had to follow the party line, or be expelled from the party.  In their hearts these people, the Freedom Caucus in the House of Representatives, the 40 hard-liners know what is right for the American People and they will have their way or nothing will happen in Congress.

 

John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, has resigned both as Speaker and as a member of the House, effective October 31st.  His immediate replacement, Kevin McCarthy, the House Whip has withdrawn as a candidate for the Speakership.  He did not have the votes within his own party.  The one other possible replacement, Paul Ryan, has initially turned down the offer of assuming that role.  Presumably the price of taking it was to support numerous positions that he found unacceptable.  Boehner said he will stay in office until a replacement is found.  After a little over a week of negotiating and also being cajoled Paul Ryan accepted the Speakership.  He got the support of most of the Tea Party and the majority of the other Republican House Congressmen.

 

The Freedom Caucus, which seems to hold the balance of power among the Republican House members, were thrilled at presumably getting rid of Boehner.  If they did achieve this it was a pyrrhic victory.  They may have gotten him to resign but now Ryan is the new Speaker and in order to get him to accept the position most of the House Republicans have sworn allegiance to him.  This includes the majority of the Freedom Caucus but not the entire group.

 

There was also a move at the end September to “Ditch Mitch.”  Many far right Republican Senate members do not consider him aggressive enough to run the Republican Party in the Senate.  Louisiana Governor and Presidential Candidate Bobby Jindal has called upon Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to resign.  They want someone who will stand up to the President and take some risks.  McConnell has too much support from Republicans in the Senate to be in any danger in terms of being forced out of the Senate.

 

The frustration for these hard-liners seems to be that they, the Republicans, have the majority in both Houses of Congress but their particular group doesn’t have the votes to stop legislation if it is also supported in both Houses of Congress.  The fact that this situation exists in Congress would indicate the epitome of dysfunctionality.

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The basic question, in terms of Congress, comes down to: What is the main purpose of the Government?  And the answer to that question, most simply stated is answered in the preamble to the Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

This is what the members of Congress have taken an oath to do.  Is this what they, particularly the Republicans in the House of Representatives and the Senate, are doing?

 

Currently the House of Representatives has a new Speaker as its presiding officer.  There are currently 247 Republicans in the House and 188 Democrats.  The majority party has easily elected a new speaker if all the Republicans vote for whoever is running for that position.  But on the far right of the conservative party is the Freedom Coalition.  These are the 40 ultra-conservative hardline Tea Partiers.  To them the rest of the Republican Party is not far enough to the right.  Presumably they will not support anyone who will go against their agenda.  They want to get rid of Affordable Health Care and defund Planned Parenthood.  I suspect many of them may also be racial bigots.    I imagine this feeling goes beyond this specific group to many other Republicans in Congress.  Has any of this changed with the election of Paul Ryan?

 

If 40 votes are subtracted from the 247 currently elected Republicans they do not have enough votes to pass legislation if the 40 and the 188 elected Democrats do not support their move.  Basically what this means is that the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader both have to get the support of the majority of Democrats in order to pass bills that a percentage of their party will not support.

 

John Boehner has faced this situation since becoming Speaker of the House in 2011 and Mitch McConnell will face this situation for the next fourteen months.  Will Paul Ryan have to face this same situation?  The Republicans may have the majority in both Houses but it will take a coalition of both political parties to run the country.  This has to be the ultimate irony and could well lead to the formation of a new national political party after the 2016 elections.

 

The nation is now at the point of crisis.  Legislative actions will have to be taken or the functioning of the government could be forced to cease.  The Debt Limit Crisis has been averted by negotiations between the President, the Senate Republican leadership and the former Speaker, John Boehner, raising the Debt limit for the next two years.

 

There is also funding the Federal Government.  This could stop the Federal Government if Congress does not pass a bill by December.  John Boehner was able to avoid a Federal Government shutdown by resigning as Speaker and quitting the House effective October 31.  But that pushed the deadline from September to December.  It will again be reached in December of 2015.

 

This major problems still must be dealt with this year but there are numerous others that will be coming up early in January of 2016 like the automatic cuts of about 5% across the board on federal and discretionary spending if Congress does not act to stop some or all of this spending.  That is sequestration, which stays in existence until 2023.

 

This does not count infrastructure problems like hundred or more year old bridges, some of which seem to be ready to collapse at some near future point or intercontinental train tracks which are having innumerable accidents particularly oil tankers that are jumping tracks and burning for days on end, causing massive evacuations from the deadly toxic smoke of towns and large sections of cities.  This country is filled with infrastructure that was built in the first half of the Twentieth Century or earlier which needs to be replaced and/or modernized to meet the needs of today’s population.

 

There are also an obscene number of people being shot every day by people who, for mental reasons, should never be allowed to purchase guns.  We can follow the advice of Presidential candidate Jeb Bush who after the shooting of innocent students at a college said, “Stuff happens.”  A week later, after another similar shooting, he kept his mouth shut.  I expected him to say, “Stuff still happens.”  Mentally disturbed people should not have easy access to weapons.  Somehow, even with the NRA, Congress needs to deal with this problem.  It is time we stopped leading the industrial nations of the world in gun homicides.

 

There are other problems, including everyday things, like fiscal policy, the War against ISIS, the other crises in the Middle East, China, and Russia that require participation by Congress.  None of this is being dealt with by Congress.  They seem to be getting paid $170,000 each for taking vacations and leaving the country to go its own way without their participation.  In fact the House of Representatives will meet for 111 days in 2016.  No work week for them exceeds three days.  Most of the fighting going on by the U.S. Military has never been authorized by the Congress.  The Constitution clearly makes them the arbiters of war and peace.  Congress has left these decisions completely in the hands of the President.  They have refused to take any action.

 

In essence Congress is dysfunctional.  Speaker, Paul Ryan, in his acceptance speech has defined Congress as broken.  He says he will start anew.  But Speaker Ryan is himself not far to the left of the Freedom Caucus.   Will there be positive changes or will the House fall back into non-functionality?  Will the House shut down the Government again?   The political future should be interesting.

The Weiner Component #139B – Paul Ryan as the New Speaker of the House of Representatives

With the retirement of John Boehner, brought about by the Tea Party or otherwise, Paul Ryan will be the new Speaker of the House of Representatives.  At his election on October 29, 2015 he received a majority of Republican votes to become Speaker.

 

The 44 year old Ryan has been in Congress since 1999.  He is from Wisconsin’s First District and became Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee in early January of 2015.  Prior to that he was Chairman of the House Budget Committee, from January 3, 2011 to January 3, 2015.

 

From what I understand he was not anxious to have this position since it has traditionally been a dead-ended one.  Historically no one has gone on from it to become President of the United States.  It would seem that since Ryan ran in 2012 as Mitt Romney’s Vice Presidential candidate he has been looking toward eventually running for the presidency.

 

Next to the Speaker the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee is the most powerful position in the House as that Committee both makes the committee choices and writes the agenda for all the meetings of the House of Representatives.

 

Ryan did not originally want the Speakership because up until this point it has been an almost impossible job.  The Republicans in the House of Representatives, all 247 of them, meet as a single caucus generally before the entire House meets to conduct actual business.  But in addition to this the Republicans also meet in three smaller specific caucuses.  On the ultra-right are 30 Tea Party members, the Freedom Caucus, who have generally voted on all issues exactly the same.  Then there is the far-right Republican Caucus and finally the extreme-right caucus.

 

Up until Wednesday, October 28, 2015 the Speaker of the House could never depend on the Freedom Caucus and some of the other members of the overall Republican Caucus to put through necessary legislation.  On some occasions he even had to negotiate with Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Minority Leader, in order to get necessary legislation passed.  This situation had existed since the 2011 Congressional session when he was first elected Speaker.

 

This behavior of dealing with Democrats to a large number of Republican members on the far right, like the Freedom Caucus, has been a betrayal of Republican principles.  In addition the former Speaker, John Boehner, once played a game of golf with President Barak Obama.  This was an unforgivable sin to the members of the Freedom Caucus.

 

In order to not shut down the Federal Government former Speaker Boehner in late September resigned, effective the end of October, and got a bill passed with Democratic help that funded the Government through December.  Apparently he felt he had to do this in order to not shut down the Federal Government by having the Republicans refuse to fund it over the issue of funding Planned Parenthood.

 

On Wednesday, October 28, 2015 former Speaker Boehner, after negotiating with the leaders of the Senate and the President, got another bill through the House raising the Debt Limit for the next two years.  Without this new bill the Federal Government would not have been able to spend money after November 3, 2015.

 

Ryan’s major upcoming task will be to pass legislation through the House of Representatives that would allow the Federal Government to pay its bills after the middle of December.  I would assume that this bill is one of the conditions of Paul Ryan accepting the Speakership.  However a large number of Republicans are dedicated to the idea of doing away with the subsidy to Planned Parenthood.  They might still insist on this in December.

 

President Obama has stated that if this is done he will veto the bill and there are not enough Republicans in either House to override his veto.  He has also stated that he will veto any future short term solution to this problem.  Even with promises from his caucus of all the Republicans this bill will apparently be the new Speaker’s big test.  If he needs Democratic help to get the bill passed Paul Ryan will continue his speakership on the same level as John Boehner suffered through.

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With Boehner’s resignation and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Whip not being able to get the votes needed, Paul Ryan seemed to be the only member of the House of Representatives who might be able to secure a large enough majority of Republican support to get elected.  He apparently didn’t really want the job but was probably later convinced that no one else could get enough votes to be elected Speaker.  And with no Speaker the House of Representatives couldn’t meet.

 

In the end Ryan set conditions under which he would accept the position.  It would seem that the Freedom Caucus and others also had conditions.  All these were negotiated leading to, among other things, rule changes in running the House of Representatives.  One apparent rule was that nothing would be brought to the floor of the House that did not have a majority of Republican support.  Another was that Ryan would spend his weekends with his family instead of raising money for the Republican Party.  There was also a rule, propagated by the Freedom Caucus, allowing an individual lawmaker to force a vote ousting the speaker at any time.  Obviously there were other changes that we will learn about later on.

 

When he announced his candidacy for the Speaker’s job Ryan said he wanted endorsements from all three Republican Caucuses.  This should guarantee he will emerge as the unity candidate of the House Republicans.  He doesn’t want to risk being in the middle of the intraparty unrest under which former Speaker Boehner lived in since 2011.  The Tea Party, Freedom Caucus, fell short of a formal endorsement since that would have required 80% agreement.  The group was not able to achieve this level, but Ryan accepted their majority vote as a show of Republican unity.

 

What will happen?  That’s a good question.

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It is important to remember that Paul Ryan, when he ran with Mitt Romney as his Vice Presidential candidate, was considered by many to be the most conservative Vice Presidential candidate to run for that office since the turn of the 20th Century.

 

Originally he was a follower of Ayn Rand, who in her few books, particularly in “Atlas Shrugged,” advocated extreme individualism with the masses being an unfeeling horde.  He grew up with these beliefs, to the point of making his staff read her books.  This persisted from his teen years, when he discovered her writing, until April 2012 when he was criticized by the Georgetown University faculty.  At that time, being a good Catholic he rejected her philosophy as being “atheistic.”  He called the reports of his advocating Rand’s perspective an “urban legend,” (Whatever that means.) and stated that he was strongly influenced by his Roman Catholic faith and by the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

 

There are numerous other instances where Paul Ryan suddenly totally changed his position.  It seems that his attitudes were flexible, changing with the needs of the time.  It would appear that in August 2012, soon after Romney choose him as his VP, that the Tea Party wanted a nominee other than Romney.  It had gotten one of its ideological heroes in second place.

 

Ryan voted for the two Bush tax cuts in 2001 and in 2003.  He supported the 2003 bill that created the Medicare Part D, prescription drug benefit and the $700 billion bank bailout.  He was one of the 32 Republicans in the House to vote for the auto industry bailout.  In the past conservative commentators have criticized Ryan for deficit causing policies during the George W. Bush administration.

 

Paul Ryan existence became public knowledge over his financial plans or Ryan budgets.  His proposals outlined negative changes to entitlement spending that, among other things, would replace Medicare with a voucher program for those under the age of 55.  This 2008 bill never made it out of committee.  In 2009 he introduced a bill that in addition to his earlier one would impose a five year freeze on all discretionary spending.  It would also allow taxpayers, if they so choose, to opt out of the Federal Income Tax system and pay a flat 10% income tax on adjusted gross incomes up to $100,000 for couples and $50,000 for singles.  Any earnings above this amount would be taxed at 25%.  The bill was rejected in the Democratic controlled House by a vote of 293 to 137, with 18 Republicans in opposition.

 

In 2010 he released a modified version of his earlier bills.  He has released spending bills just about every year.  All of them cut entitlement spending and will supposedly balance the Federal Budget in about a decade.  In 2015 the same pattern is followed with even deeper entitlement cuts.  The overall evaluation is that his budget proposals would increase middle-class taxes while cutting taxes for the upper percentile of the population.  In terms of balancing the budget in ten years they are all wishful thinking.

 

It is worth noting that the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has been highly critical of Ryan’s budget proposals, stating that they would shift income to the wealthy while increasing poverty and inequality.

 

Ryan in 2004 and 2005 got the Bush administration to propose privatization of Social Security.  He’s a supporter of private school vouchers.  In 2011 Ryan supported using the federal debt ceiling as leverage to reduce Federal spending.

 

Paul Ryan has described himself as being “as pro-life as a person gets.”  He has co-sponsored 18 bills in the Congress that restrict abortions.  He believes that all abortions should be illegal, including those resulting from rape or incest, and he only makes an exception in cases where the woman’s life is at risk.

 

Ryan has recommended that Medicaid be converted into block grants with the Federal Government’s share of the cost being cut by $800 billion over the next ten years.  Medicaid is administered by the individual states under a strong level of Federal control.  The problem with a blanket block grant is that there is no control over how the state will use the money.  Block grants in the past have often been used for other purposes than for what they were issued.

 

In his 1998 campaign for the House of Representatives Ryan expressed his willingness to allow states to criminally prosecute women who have abortions.  He would let each state decide on the extent of the penalties.

 

In 2009 he cosponsored the Sanctity of Life Act, which would provide that fertilized eggs ”shall have all the legal and Constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood” and would have given Congress, …the authority to protect the lives of all human beings residing in its respective jurisdictions.”

 

Ryan has voted against continued federal aid for Planned Parenthood and Title X family planning programs.  The partial funding of these programs were originally signed into law by the Republican President, Richard M. Nixon.  Ryan supported legislation that would impose criminal penalties for doctors who perform partial birth abortions.  He opposed the government paying for over the counter emergency contraceptive pills.  He also opposed same sex marriage and had supported a constitutional amendment that would ban it.

 

Paul Ryan has supported the rights of gun owners and opposed stricter gun control measures.  He voted against a bill for stronger background checks and is for purchases at gun shows.

 

Originally Ryan supported legislation that would have allowed some illegal immigrants to apply for temporary guest worker status.  This included a bill that would provide a pathway to permanent residence status.  More recently Ryan has adopted a firm anti-amnesty enforcement stance on illegal immigration.  He voted against the Dream Act which was a bill that would provide conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children if they mainly attend college or serve in the military.

 

Ryan does not believe in climate change; he accuses climatologists of using “statistical tricks to distort their findings and intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”  He has criticized the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) classification of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.  Ryan also supports a ten year $40 billion tax break for the petroleum industry and has proposed cutting funding for renewable energy research and subsidies.

 

He has made recommendations to enact cuts to welfare, child care, Pell grants, and several other federal assistance programs like food stamps and housing aid.  His argument being that these program serve as an incentive for the poor not having to work.

 

In 2001 and 2004 he voted to end the embargo in Cuba.  Later Ryan reversed his position and since 2007 he has voted for maintaining the embargo.  He called Obama’s 2009 “reset” of relations with Russia as “appeasement.

 

He voted for sequestration in 2013, across the board cuts in almost all government programs, because President Obama and the Democrats would voluntarily refuse to cut discretionary (nonmilitary) programs.  This is a ten year program that automatically make significant cuts every year unless Congress passes specific legislation to stop some of it.

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This is the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, the man who has replaced former Speaker John Boehner.  He was overwhelmingly elected to his new position.  He received 238 out of 247 Republican votes.   Nine Republicans, apparently from the Freedom Caucus, did not vote for him; they apparently felt he was not conservative enough.  Ryan needed 218 votes to be elected.  If he can maintain that majority he will not need Democratic help to get legislation through.

 

The question arises as to how he will lead.  He’s been a bit of a chameleon in the past, sometimes changing his position to adhere to the party line.   If he continues in this mode there will be another Federal Government Shutdown before the 2016 Presidential Election.  But if he acts more moderately will he retain the overall support of all his fellow Republicans in the House?  Which position will he adhere to?

 

In December he still has to fund the Federal Government.  At the beginning of January the remaining sequestration cuts automatically go into effect unless Congress passes a bill(s) and the President signs it/them.  The military aspect of the problem has been solved with the current bill that squeaked through Congress at the end of September that raised the Debt Limit for two years and also funded the military.

 

Paul Ryan, the 54th House Speaker, in his acceptance speech, stated that: “Let’s be frank.  The House is broken.  We are not solving problems.  We are adding to them.  And I am not interested in laying blame.  We are not settling scores.  We are wiping the slate clean.”

 

“If there were ever a time for us to step up, this would be that time.  The cynics will scoff and say it’s not possible.  But you better believe we are going to try.  We will not duck the tough issues.”

 

Will any other needed legislation come into being?  Since the midterm Election of 2014, when the Republicans gained a slight majority in the Senate (54 Republicans to 44 Democrats and 2 Independents) the Republican dominated Congress has accomplished almost nothing.

The new debt ceiling bill was passed by Boehner with heavy Democratic support, thus “cleaning the barn” in Boehner’s words.  If Ryan has to also use the Democrats he will alienate a lot of Republican House members.  It should be interesting and possibly depressing to find out what will happen!