Dear GOP, We Don’t Feel Sorry for Your “Tough Votes”

Over the last few days, we’ve heard a lot of complaining about how “tough” a vote on a clean CR would be for ultra-conservative House Republicans. At Obama’s Oct. 8 press conference, one reporter said:

“You mentioned yourself that this is a tough vote for all these House Republicans. You're asking them to take a very tough vote for the debt ceiling. Usually, people in both parties want to have some cover…”

And it is a “tough” vote; with constituents so vehemently anti-Obamacare that a possible default appears a veritable Godsend in exchange for its repeal, it may be difficult to convince them of the logic of maintaining a working government. But does anyone spouting this nonsense ever think about why this is such a tough vote? Does it strike these congressmen as strange that their constituents are so alarmed, so illogical, and so deeply immovable in their convictions?

Because here’s the truth, Republicans: you created this monster.

Republicans and Fox News have been working steadily over the past few years to mold the GOP base into exactly what it has become. Is it surprising that they fear and loathe Obamacare when Republicans have repeatedly informed these same voters that Obamacare institutes death panels; kills jobs; pays for abortions (with taxpayer money!); abuses private information (to discriminate against conservatives!); causes skyrocketing premiums; and ultimately represents the end of America as we know it?! Is it surprising that these voters, seeing none of the same alarmist rhetoric employed to describe a default on America’s debt, have drawn the conclusion that Obamacare is much, much worse?

And have congressmen complaining about this “tough vote” acknowledged that the reason their districts are so rabidly conservative is that in 2012 they enthusiastically gerrymandered into irrelevance anyone who didn’t subscribe to Obamacare myths? They’ve created their own conservative dystopias where facts don’t matter and the majority of voters are scared and suspicious of (almost everything, but mostly) Obama, “socialism” and the “liberal elite.” So are Republicans really so conflicted now that it’s now “tough” to make logical decisions, or is that just an excuse?

Because either way, this is exactly what they wanted, and they got it. So, GOP: good luck dealing with it.  And no, you don’t get “cover” (i.e. “political goodies”) for creating this problem yourselves. Now stop misinforming your voters, vote on a clean CR, and get back to work.

Show Republicans we're tired of excuses. Tell them to sign the discharge petition and reopen the government.  

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Bob Schieffer to Sen. Cornyn: "Isn't There Something Wrong" With That?

On Sunday's Face of the Nation, host Bob Schieffer interviewed Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX). Predictably, Cornyn repeated the GOP rhetoric that blames Obama and Democrats for refusing to negotiate. Schieffer asked Cornyn multiple times to explain why Republicans refused to employ normal legislative mechanisms to change policy and instead have resorted to saying, "I'm going to throw a brick through your window unless you give me $20." 

At 1:10, Schieffer delivers his best line: "Senator, isn’t there something wrong when you say I won’t fund the government unless i can attach my personal wish list to the legislation every time we vote? I’d love to see the government find a cure for cancer, but I don’t think you can say I’m not going to pass and pass any funds for the rest of the government until [the National Institutes of Health] finds a cure for cancer. I mean, isn’t that just kind of the same thing here?"

Exactly. The GOP needs to accept that it sometimes doesn't get its way — and that shutting down the government is a dangerously irresponsible reaction. It's important for the media to call out the GOP on how ridiculous and illogical their talking points really are instead of pretending that this debacle is the result of "partisan gridlock." Make sure the GOP understands that the shutdown was a bad political move — pledge to volunteer to defeat Republicans for every day they keep the government shut down.  

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Anderson Cooper to Raul Labrador: You're Getting Real Questions Here

This gem of a clip begins with a metaphor from Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID): Democrats asking Republicans to sign a clean CR is like CNN asking Cooper to sign a contract first and negotiate the terms later. Cooper shoots back: "But it's not really that way because Congress hasn't passed my contract and the Supreme Court hasn't accepted my contract as valid."

Labrador goes for another angle: Romney was lost the election because he was "known as the godfather of Obamacare." Cooper clarifies: "So basically your argument is you're nullifying two presidential elections and you're nullifying the vote of Congress because you don't like it."

Labrador insists that the clean CR wouldn't garner enough votes. Cooper says, "Why not just try?" "Why should we?" Labrador asks. "Because that's how things work," Cooper says. "Your job is to vote on things."

The grand finale comes at 3:30, when Labrador accuses Cooper of "having a stake" in this, to which Cooper responds with the best sound byte of the clip: "This is the way it works in journalism. When you're not on Fox News, you get contentious interviews. When you're not on MSNBC and a liberal, you get contentious interviews. My job is to ask you questions that are different than you think... That's what a journalist does!"

There are enough votes  for a clean CR — 21 Republicans have joined 199 Democrats to surpass the 217 vote majority necessary to pass it. One of two things must occur for the vote to happen: John Boehner changes his mind or Republicans sign onto the discharge petition. Tell Republicans to sign the discharge petition and end this shutdown.  

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Supreme Court 2013-2014 Term Preview: Here are the Big Ones

Thanks to the Legal Information Institute for the information.

Campaign Finance

As we noted in our blog post on the topic, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission will decide whether aggregate campaign, committee, and party contribution limits are constitutional. In the 2012 election, plaintiff McCutcheon wanted to donate $25,000 to three committees and make maximum contributions each to 28 federal candidates, donations that would have violated the $70,800 net limit on committee donations and $46,000 net donation limit for candidates. Overturning biennial limits would allowing McCutcheon to donate to a higher number of candidates or organizations. This case has the potential to erode campaign finance regulation that was already hobbled by Citizens United. A ruling against aggregate contribution limits would lay the groundwork for the elimination of candidate contribution limits, which would effectively eliminate the average American from the political conversation.

Affirmative Action

Unlike the recent Fisher v. University of Texas case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action will decide whether Michigan’s 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting public universities and schools from using race-conscious admissions processes violates the Equal Protection Clause. Also under consideration is the “political restructuring doctrine,” which the Court has previously relied on to prevent placing onerous burdens on minorities seeking change through the political process. Even in an era where social class and race have dramatic effects on one’s educational opportunities and schools are more segregated than during Brown v. Board of Education, affirmative action policies seem to be constantly under fire.

Legislative Prayer

In Town of Greece v. Galloway, plaintiffs Galloway and Stephens argue that a town’s practice of beginning its Town Board meetings with a prayer unconstitutionally coerces them to participate in sectarian prayer. A lower court agreed that the practice violates the Establishment Clause. In McCullen v. Coakley, Massachusetts’ selective exclusion law is under the fire. The law prohibits individuals other than employees or agents from entering a 35-foot “buffer zone” around reproductive health care clinics. The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the regulation, saying that it balances the state’s interest in protecting prospective patients and employees with the First Amendment rights of others.

Stay tuned for developments — we’ll be keeping close tabs on these cases.

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