Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Current House Bet Is That Speaker John Boner (R-OH) Has A Bigger Gaffe Than Yours

Eags just threw a flurry of punches at House Speaker John Boner (R-OH) and most of them scored. We have comic opera on the Texas border and now we have comic opera in the U.S. House of Representatives. Boner has dropped the first shoe and we must await the other shoe: articles of impeachment accusing President Barack H. Obama of "treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors...." This will be the equivalent of "Get a rope — there's an empty tree over there." Hide'n watch, the Dumbo/Teabaggers in the House are capable of sinking lower than a serpent's belly. It would be funny if it wasn't so stupid. If this is (fair & balanced) tragicomedy, so be it.

[x NY Fishwrap]
Ambulance Chaser In The House
By Timothy Egan

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You’re a member of Congress, and everyone hates you. You’re likely to be a lawyer — the leading profession for federal legislators — and most everyone hates lawyers, with a Pew survey finding that people rank them at the very bottom in contributing something to society. Is there anything you could do to generate more contempt?

Yes — sue somebody! The speaker of the House, John Boehner, has announced that Republicans in the House are likely to file suit against President Obama. They are doing this because he delayed parts of a law, the Affordable Care Act, that they have tried to repeal more than 50 times. If they win, business owners who have been given some breathing room from providing mandatory health care would have to quickly implement the very thing that Republicans say is a job-killing bullet to the economy.

It’s head-spinning, all of it. We’ve finally reached the point where the do-nothing, delay-everything, don’t-even-allow-a-vote-on-measures-a-majority-of-Americans-favor Congress has reached its logical position. They will not legislate. But they will litigate.

“Their big idea has been to sue me,” the president said earlier this month, unable to sustain a giggle. “That’s what they’re spending time on.”

To Boehner, the stunt, brought to you by the talk radio and Fox News wacko-sphere, is no laughing matter. He says the imperial president has governed by executive order, overstepping a Congress that will not govern by any order. Obama has issued 182 executive orders in his presidency, through the end of June. The tyrant.

The sainted Ronald Reagan issued 381 executive orders. The benign Dwight Eisenhower rolled out 484 of them. And Calvin Coolidge — Silent Cal, hero of young fogies in bow ties, asleep at the presidential wheel — signed more than 1,200 executive orders. Sue ’em all, retroactively.

So far, legal experts have reacted to Boehner’s potential lawsuit with the rhetorical equivalent of guffawing until their morning coffee runs out their noses. This might include Chief Justice John Roberts, who has sniffed at another political lawsuit because the plaintiffs lacked standing — that is, someone seeking “relief for an injury that affects him in a personal and individual way,” as Roberts wrote.

Earlier this week, a federal judge appointed by George W. Bush threw out a lawsuit by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin against a health care provision, saying the Tea Party Republican had failed to show how he had been personally harmed by the law.

So, what Boehner needs is a plaintiff in a neck brace. Somebody fragile, and sympathetic-looking. He needs that person to be a member of Congress. And he needs that person to have suffered for lack of health insurance because of President Obama. The character played by Matthew McConaughey in “The Lincoln Lawyer,” an operator who practiced law out of a car, had better stuff to work with than this.

Another problem: Republicans have complained for decades about “activist judges” doing the work that legislators are supposed to do. Judges should be referees, not lawmakers or micro-managers. But here, Boehner would be asking a court to step in and require that President Obama’s signature law be managed a certain way.

Presidents routinely delay, modify or defer enforcement of certain laws. President George W. Bush decided — like some kind of monarch! — to waive penalty fees on seniors who missed a sign-up deadline for prescription drug coverage in 2006. He was ignoring a part of his own law. And what Wall Street-backed Republican is complaining about the many delays in implementing the Dodd-Frank Act?

That Bush appointee who threw out Senator Johnson’s claim, Judge William C. Griesbach, sent a warning shot in Boehner’s direction with his language. He wrote that “disputes between the executive and legislative branches over the extent of their respective powers are to be resolved through the political process, not by decisions issued by federal judges.”

The political process. You know — votes and things, lawmaking. That would require the House to do something. Ha! A bill to raise the minimum wage will not even come up for a vote. Immigration reform is dead for the year, Boehner said recently — no vote allowed. Even a fellow Republican, Representative Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, noted that if Boehner really wanted to do something to prevent the president from issuing more executive orders, he could, um, pass legislation.

Too late for that. After next week, it’s vacation — for all of August, and into September. That will be followed by another loooooong break, from the first week of October until Election Day in November. This will give Boehner’s nonperforming lawmakers plenty of time to ask a dispirited electorate to return them so they can sit on their hands for another two years.

The primaries this year have produced record-low turnout, because of voters who have gotten nothing from their politicians. We could sue them, with standing. Or we could do what they refuse to do — take a vote of real consequence. Ω

[Timothy Egan writes "Outposts," a column at the NY Fishwrap online. Egan — winner of both a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 as a member of a team of reporters who wrote the series "How Race Is Lived in America" and a National Book Award (The Worst Hard Time in 2006) — graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in journalism, and was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Whitman College in 2000 for his environmental writings. Egan's most recent book is The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America (2009).]

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