Exit Boehner, Enter …. ?

When Pope Francis came to visit Congress, everyone knew something big was going to happen. Causing Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to have an epiphany and resign was not on anyone’s list.

But, there you have it – a Pope that works strange miracles.

To say that in the aftermath all Hell will break loose depends on whether your definition of Hell is complete inaction (it probably should be). By that standard Congress has been deep in the fire for a long time so we can’t blame Boehner for seeking a cool escape once he was touched by His Holiness. But is there a way out for the rest of us?

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Boehner’s Big Wave – Goodbye?

In most of the world, the one thing we can be sure of is constant change. In the US House, we have come to rely on inaction in the face of change as Speaker Boehner stood resolutely in charge of a body too fractured to do anything. As comedian Dave Allen observed, “When you’re up to your bottom lip in muck, there is only one rule – don’t make waves.”

A big wave is about to come through the US House as Boehner faces a serious challenge from the Tea Party wing of the party. So far, two Representatives, Louis Gohmert (R-TX) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) have announced they are challenging him. How exactly it will shake out is anyone’s guess, but something is about to happen. Make popcorn.

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Dear Republican Friends:

How ya doin’?  I know this is a tough time and the last person you want to hear from is a Democrat, but many of you are friends of mine.  Some of the kindest and most decent people I know are Republicans, and I care about you.  Much of my family were and are Republicans, too.  You have to know I write this from the bottom of my heart.

I’m really worried about you – as a party.  I think that this nation works best when there are two engaged, committed, fearless, and honest parties mixin’ it up – but also gettin’ ‘er done.  And …. well, rather than just get mad and blame you all for the very public way your party is ripping apart I thought I’d offer my support and encouragement for you to get better soon.  Really, anything I can do to help.  But let me tell you why this is so important to me.

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Gameday in Washingtoon

Another year, another battle over the budget.  This time the threat is a trifecta, a showdown over shutting down government, defunding Obamacare, and a default on the Federal Debt by not raising the debt ceiling.  The stakes could not possibly be higher – and yet just about no one outside of Washingtoon wants to be in this game in the first place.  How did it get to this?

First of all, this is about the Republican Party and absolutely nothing else.  Boehner and the leadership had to prove their mettle to more vocal Tea Party members if they wanted to have a chance to keep their positions.  But there is little doubt that even if they win the greater party outside stands to lose the most in this game.  For the rest of us, all we can do is hope that nothing stupid winds up happening.

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Happy … Stuff

Raise your hand if you are sick of the “Fiscal Cliff”.  Okay, let me count … 1 …. 2 … OK, there are a lot of you.  I guess that I shouldn’t write about the Fiscal Cliff then.  You’re back at work on 2 January like I am and we have a lot of stuff to do, right?

So, how about that House vote that … no, wait, I mean how about them Vikings, get to play the Packers at Lambeau!  AP is just on fire, I’ll bet they have a chance.  Anything to blur away the early hours of the first day back into the swing of things and avoid talking about Congress (the logical antonym of “progress”).

Sorry, folks.  I have to.  The House vote has not yet taken place as I write this, but the story is probably already written.  We waited all day for this to com e to a vote because it could not be voted on until it was sure it would pass.  Negotiations went on all day amounted to a lot of nothing in the end.  Or did they?  Something is up, I am sure.  Let’s think this through.

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Nothing Stupid. Right?

My friends ask me all the time about the Fiscal Cliff.  The assumption is that, as a person who watches these things, I am supposed to know what is going on.  I don’t, I admit it.  The most reasonable thing I have heard on the negotiations came long ago from a source I can’t remember – that the staffers had more-or-less worked out a deal weeks ago, and it’s simply down to the final posturing by their bosses before something is finalized.

That’s probably over-stating it a bit, but certainly once the election was over the relative strength of the positions was known and there was little point in “negotiating” any more.  Politicians in high office don’t get there by being stupid (usually).  So before we head into the endgame of the year, we can look back on how the Republican position became weaker and weaker – and why they will probably wind up caving on all the most important things before this is over.

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Fiscal Cliff

The phrase is often credited to Ben Bernanke, but variations of it have been around for decades.  The “Fiscal Cliff” that went largely unmentioned during the campaign now dominates the talk out of Washington.  It is probably the most important thing that will happen in the next Congress, and it will certainly set the tone for the end of the Obama administration.  Yet almost no one has taken the time to explain what’s at stake in plain language.

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