One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
Trending topic from the “That’s News?” department: Congress Approval Rating Lower Than Cockroaches, Genghis Khan And Nickelback, Poll Finds. Now this is hardly “breaking news” to most of us who have been tuned in to the embarrassing three-ring circus that we call “Congress.” And most Americans understand the tacit implication that “Congress” = the Republican Majority in the House, because 2010 is clearly when the wheels fell off . . .
Nevertheless, Huffington Post reports that Democratic-leaning firm, Public Policy Polling, has come up with a colorful new way to depict the fear and loathing that most Americans feel toward Congress. PPP recently asked respondents to compare their favorability of lawmakers with a long list of decidedly unpopular things. According to the firm, “what we found is that Congress is less popular than cockroaches, traffic jams, and even Nickelback.”
From Public Policy Polling’s press release announcing the survey results:
Here’s what we found:
It’s gross to have lice but at least they can be removed in a way that given the recent reelection rates members of Congress evidently can’t: Lice 67 Congress 19
Colonoscopies are not a terribly pleasant experience but at least they have some redeeming value that most voters aren’t seeing in Congress: Colonoscopies 58 Congress 31
America might have had to bail out France multiple times over the years but voters still have a more charitable opinion of it than Congress: France 46 Congress 37
The NFL replacement refs may have screwed everything up, but voters think Congress is screwing everything up even worse: Replacement Refs 56 Congressmen 29 (the breakdown among Packers fans might be a little bit different).
You get the idea. But Republicans, who recently took a spanking in the 2012 election, indicated that they have seen the error of their ways and have promised to do better.
There are even a few indications that could be the case; for example, numerous Republicans have recently demonstrated that they are quite uncomfortable with President Obama’s nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense because Hagel has said mean things about teh Gayz, in the past. Who knew?
There is even an unconfirmed rumor on the Hill that the Republican Study Group has set up Wednesday night workshops in conversational Spanish.
So. What are rank and file Republicans doing to improve their recalcitrant, obstructive fact-free ways? to get off their ideological high-horses? to get back to the important work of representing their constituents and legislating for a better America?
Well, lets take a look. You be the judge . . .
Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R) and Diane Black (R) separately reintroduced a bill during the first two days of the 2013 legislative session that would prohibit Title X family planning grants from being awarded to any organization that performs abortions. The bill, first introduced by former Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN.) in the 112th Congress, primarily targets Planned Parenthood, which receives about $340 million a year in Title X funds for non-abortion health and family planning services.
. . . Blackburn says she is not bothered by Black’s move. “Stopping taxpayer money from being used to fund big abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood is something both fiscal and social conservatives can agree on,” she told The Huffington Post in a statement. “The fact that there are multiple members interested in this issue proves that Planned Parenthood is not going to be let off the hook. We welcome the attention of all members to the subject. It helps build momentum.”
I, myself, have to agree with Planned Parenthood president, Cecile Richards, who said:
They apparently learned nothing from the results of the last election, when Americans said overwhelmingly that they do not want politicians dictating women’s access to health care.
Michelle Bachmann (R-MN), who managed to hold on to her seat by a thread, hit the ground running after the holiday recess, re-introducing the very first House bill of the 113th Congress—the bill to repeal Obamacare (in its entirety). For the 34th time.
And, in Congress’ version of the Peter Principle, Speaker Boehner has reappointed conservative dingbat and resident Islamaphobe, Michelle Bachmann, to a key position on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. [oxymoron alert].
Some of you might remember that, last summer, Bachmann was the ringleader of a widely denounced campaign involving allegations that Muslim staffers in the administration—including Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—were actually agents of Islamic extremism with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Despite that humiliating debacle, Speaker Boehner still feels that Bachmann fits right in and deserves a promotion on the Intelligence Committee. Perhaps he had run out of candidates in his very slim binder of women?
Ben Betz of People for the American Way (PFAW) resonded thus:
While Rep. Bachmann’s Islamophobic fear mongering is a hit in conspiratorial right-wing circles, it’s beneath the level of discourse Americans should expect from members of Congress. And her views are nothing short of terrifying for someone sitting on the powerful Intelligence Committee.
Members of the House Intelligence Committee are entrusted with classified information that affects the safety and security of all Americans. That information should not be in the hands of anyone with such a disregard for honesty, misunderstanding of national security, and lack of respect for his or her fellow public servants.
One would think, Ben . . . anyone who’d like to add their name to the petition for Boehner to rethink this one can sign on, here.
And then we have Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Wild Imagination) who would like Congress to put his family into the Witness Protection Program for his courageous vendetta against Speaker Boehner.
You might recall that Huelskamp was one of the three members of the House Bad-Ass Caucus who was removed from a key committee assignment, in December, for “not playing well with others.”
Huelskamp’s glass is still half-full, though, because he’s been able to spin his little pout into a great fundraising angle:
. . . voting against a sitting Speaker of the House was a great risk. They will punish me. They will attack my family. But America is too important to be lost to overspending, high taxes, and big government. I refuse to stand by and allow our country to be destroyed. For my principled vote, Washington insiders are coming after me. I need your help and the help of 100 fellow conservatives immediately. If you are tired of Republicans who campaign as conservatives—but vote like Democrats—stand with me and make your contribution of $35 here.
Huelskamp’s “principled vote” was actually a “principled payback” by a major House whiner. Take a bow, Tim.
And, last but not least, there’s Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who decided to go duck-hunting with an anti-aircraft gun. Walden is the legislative genius who hopes to stymie the administration’s “Platinum option” with a bill that would ban President Obama and the U.S. Treasury from minting platinum coins to avert the debt ceiling standoff.
Walden explains his rationale:
This scheme to mint trillion-dollar platinum coins is absurd and dangerous. My wife and I have owned and operated a small business since 1986. When it came time to pay the bills, we couldn’t just mint a coin to create more money out of thin air. We sat down and figured out how to balance the books.
That’s what Washington needs to do as well. My bill will take the coin scheme off the table by disallowing the Treasury to mint platinum coins as a way to pay down the debt.
Guess what, Mr Walden-Goes-To-Washington? The United States government is not a small business. Nuff said?
Not to mention the fact that your smooth move could backfire:
The platinum coins . . . would not grant Obama any additional spending powers. Money could only be withdrawn from the Fed to pay for projects already explicitly approved by Congress. So even if Obama minted a $5 trillion coin, he would not immediately have $5 trillion to spend. He could only withdraw money to pay off debts and meet federal payroll. If Congress objects to any of those activities, it can pass laws to end them. The $1 trillion coin, therefore, could not spark inflation unless Congress suddenly began authorizing trillions of dollars in new spending projects.
Walden’s legislation also implicitly acknowledges that “the platinum option” is, in fact, legal. While the 1996 law uses very broad and explicit language, it was designed to permit various types of coins to be minted for collectors, and it has not been challenged in court for a use akin to raising the debt ceiling. Should Obama ever invoke “the platinum option”—and he has so far offered no indication that he would seriously consider it—the existence of Walden’s bill could be used to support a court case in defense of the move.
So. There you have it. The new, improved GOP. Something tells me cockroaches and Nickelback have nothing to worry about.
I swear! getting all the House Republican nutjobs into one post is like herding cats.
WannaBe Veep, Paul Ryan just dragged out the old “Sanctity of Human Life” fetal person-hood bill for another spin around the Capitol. These boys and girls are coming up with a lot of swell, irrelevant ideas just clearing out the old 112th Congress filing cabinets.