Of Course They'd Shut Him Down
With increasing talk of the GOP retaking the Senate this fall, even if only numerical control and not operational control, why after watching the full range of Republican obstructionism these last five years do members of the media question how far the GOP would go once they seized control of both houses?
Would the GOP tie down the White House into endless congressional hearings and investigations by both houses? Of course they would.
Would a GOP Senate stop Obama's ability to make appointments and get lower-court justices confirmed for the remainder of his term? Of course they would. Do you really doubt that Mitch McConnell would blockade this president for his last two years? Given the personal hatred the GOP has for this president, why is it so hard to believe that they would do everything they can to shut him down for the remainder of his term, no matter what electoral damage they would suffer as a result in 2016?
The real question right now is why the White House and its allies aren't hammering this likely outcome with the electorate for the next six months.
Paul's Real Target Is Jeb
While Democrats focus on avoiding any more losses in 2014, a major civil war is shaping up within the GOP for 2016. As Mother Jones reported today, Rand Paul is opening a new front against the GOP establishment not on domestic policy or fealty to Tea Party dogma, but rather foreign policy. And Paul is choosing his targets carefully, and in a way that some beltway pundits have yet to see. While Chris Matthews and others were focusing on how Paul is directly going after the Bush/Cheney foreign policy record and asserting the need for an isolationist course, they never went a step further to identify the real import of Paul’s attack: to neutralize Jeb Bush.
With Chris Christie about to take the major fall that some of us have seen coming, there has been an effort by the GOP establishment to avoid a Tea Party takeover in 2016 by getting Jeb to run. The media fluffing of Jeb has gone so far as to see the MSNBC crowd talk approvingly about Bush’s “bravery” in daring the Tea Party to oppose his candidacy and compassion on immigration, while these same center-left pundits seemingly all forgot who signed the “Stand Your Ground” law. Amidst this pro-Bush narrative comes Paul’s direct attack at W and Cheney, which Matthews and others attribute to a GOP civil war on foreign policy, between the neo-cons and the hawk holdovers from the Bush/Cheney years, and the new isolationist wing within the GOP, which is more concerned over the cost of such adventurism.
Yet none of these pundits have yet seized upon another reason for Paul’s attack: he’s undercutting Jeb, who if he runs will be forced by Paul at some point to defend his brother and the Iraq war itself. Paul is planning for this, and knows that one issue Jeb wants to avoid is Iraq. Forcing Jeb to defend the war and Cheney not only causes major schisms inside the party but also destroys Jeb as a general election candidate.
With Hillary's likely candidacy in 2016, I figured that within the party the Iraq war would come up again. But I never thought for a moment that the war would come up as a major flash point on the other side. Democrats should do whatever they can to ensure the GOP civil war between Paul and the Bush/Cheney cabal plays out in full view.
Rand Paul: Compliment Caterpillar for Tax Avoidance and Corporate Welfare
Now lost in the blizzard of news this morning from the Roberts' court latest destruction of our democracy was yesterday's silliness between Carl Levin and Rand Paul about Caterpillar's $2.4 billion in federal tax avoidance through permissible Swiss shelters. Yes, as Levin said it was an outrage. Yes, as Paul said, it was permissible and the tax code should be on trial here.
I agree Senator Paul, so let's put the tax code on trial, and ask you as a likely 2016 presidential candidate why a company with billions in profits since 2000 should be allowed to use schemes like these to avoid paying money needed for defense, homeland security, and other benefits of being an American corporation making money from American operations.
But Paul dangerously went further and said that Caterpillar should be complimented for avoiding taxes and for creating jobs. What he didn't say was that many of those jobs were former union jobs redirected from unionized states to southern "right-to-work" states, yes, like Kentucky.
Worse yet, and left almost totally unsaid yesterday was that at a time when Caterpillar avoided billions in federal taxes and used that money to acquire other companies and shed union jobs, they also managed to shake down states and localities for another $200 million in corporate welfare, money that is taken from state and local tax coffers and schools, roads, and law enforcement.
Does Senator Paul think Caterpillar should be lauded for that as well?
Go On Offense
A week can be a long time in politics.
Just a week ago, things looked bleak for Democrats and Obama for 2014. But then the Paul Ryan Vanity Project collided with 7 million new signups under the Affordable Care Act, and now the Democrats have the makings of a winning ticket for this year:
One of Karl Rove’s basic tenets of politics was to attack from your area of weakness. In the same vein, Congressional Democrats and Barack Obama need to treat the next seven months as a sprint, an all-out attack campaign against their GOP opponents, day in and day out to push the GOP on defense for having no solutions except to throw millions off their health insurance, hurt the vulnerable, and protect corporations and the wealthy. Democrats and the White House should aggressively push the ACA, attack the Ryan budget, and tar the GOP as whores for the Koch Brothers, end of story. Hammer the message every day without apology.
And watch these poll numbers go even higher. Go for broke and double down, instead of crawling into a hole.
Low Turnout Blues
Want a recipe for depressed Democratic turnout in 2014? How about a Democratic Party saddled with a White House that has disillusioned the Latino vote and provided younger voters with little economic hope or stark choices?
Want a recipe for both parties to see splintering and third party challenges in 2016? How about another Clinton-Bush contest?