Archive for the ‘Democrats’ Category

The Club Strikes Out Again


By John Feehery

club-for-growth-action-fund-is-the-conservative-movements-not-so-secret-weaponSo, the Club for Growth is up to its old tricks.

The group of bilious billionaires who gave us Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle, Joe Miller, and other losers is now trying to replace Mike Simpson with a trial lawyer named Bryan Smith to Congress.

As you know, I am not a fan of the Club.

I have accused them facetiously of being funded primarily by Democratic billionaire George Soros because they do such a good job of getting Republicans to waste money in pointless primaries.

Primaries are fine and an important part of the political process. Some members of Congress, especially dumb ones who say really stupid things and who basically just warm their seats, ought to primaried. But that’s not who the Club for Growth targets in their efforts.

Led by former Congressman Chris Chocola, or the Count as I like to call him, the Club is remarkably unsophisticated in how it picks its victims. The first criteria is that the person has to be a friend of John Boehner. The second is that the target has to be a fan of the legislative process and be willing to reach honorable compromise. Third, the person has to at some point have pissed off Chocola, who had an undistinguished career in Congress with a voting record that roughly paralleled Simpson’s record.

What is most frustrating in this particular case is that Idaho needs Mike Simpson now more than ever, especially in the face of an aggressive and unrelenting Obama Administration.

Idaho has a lot of federal land. The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service own about 64% of the land mass of the State of Idaho. The Federal government owns so much of the state that the Idaho legislators are considering legislation that would demand that the Feds give back a huge chunk of the land. That’s not going to happen, but you can appreciate how powerless many Idahoans must feel in the face of that.

Idaho also has a huge mining industry, which causes some environmental damage. That means that the Environmental Protection Agency has a huge presence in the state, and their directives can have a huge impact on job creation in the state.

Mike Simpson is the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Environment and the Interior. In other words, he controls the purse strings of the federal agencies that have the biggest direct impact on jobs in his district and his state.

Chris Chocola talks about Simpson’s tenure on the Appropriations Committee as if it were a bad thing. He says that because Chris Chocola is an idiot.

What Simpson does, by controlling the purse strings, is act as a watchdog over the Obama Administration’s most active federal agencies in his state, the agencies most likely to screw with job creation back home.

Simpson has proven to be a tireless advocate on behalf of his constituents in the face of a out-of-control Obama Administration.

They listen to Simpson because they have no other choice. That is how the legislative process works. That is how the Founding Fathers designed it. They gave the power of the purse to the Congress so that they can represent the views of the people. And Mike Simpson tells the bureaucrats when to back off, and they have no choice but to listen.

Simpson doesn’t win them all, because it is a complicated process. But Mike Simpson has worked hard to rise steadily up the seniority list, using his ability to make powerful friends and his ability to make smart compromises to most effectively represent his constituents, and protect those constituents from the worst abuses of an out-of-control White House.

This isn’t about bringing home the bacon. It is about bringing the Obama Administration’s attack dogs to heel.

Chris Chocola doesn’t get that. How could he? He doesn’t know squat about Idaho. He spends most of his time playing golf in Florida. And Florida is a long way from Idaho.

And Chocola doesn’t really understand the legislative process. He was a largely ineffective member of the Congress who lost his bid for reelection because he ran a lackluster campaign.

I don’t know who this Bryan Smith is. I am sure he says all of the right things at all the right times to make guys like Chris Chocola like him. His main claim to fame is that he speaks Dutch. But he made his money as a personal injury lawyer. That’s what Congress really needs: A Dutch-speaking personal injury lawyer.

Do you really think that the Obama Administration is going to care what a Freshman Dutch-speaking personal injury lawyer it going to say to them in the last two years their Administration? Or will they care more about what the guy who controls their office budgets from the Appropriations Committee says?

For Idaho and for the people in Idaho who actually work for a living, it’s not really about where Smith and Simpson stand on the issues, because they probably agree on about 99% of the issues. What matters is who really has the power to stop the EPA and the BLM from doing really stupid things that will kill jobs.

Simpson has that power. Smith might get it in 18 years or so, but by that time, those jobs will be long gone.

One Year Delay?


By John Feehery

oba sweaty

Just imagine if George III had told the colonists that he would delay for one whole year the implementation of the Stamp Act, the tax that Parliament imposed on the colonies to pay for its worldwide war against the French.

Do you think the colonists would have decided to pack it in and not break away from England?

In many ways, the Obama Administration is trying to do just that with its suspension of an Obamacare mandate on the business community.

The White House is giving employers a year reprieve, as if a year is going to make much of difference for most business operations.

The President is doing this for a simple reason.  He believes that if Obamacare is fully implemented in the next six months, it will prove to be very unpopular with the American people and that Congressional Democrats will lose ground in their efforts to take the House and possibly lose the Senate.

The problem with delaying this one part of the bill is that it part of a greater whole.  You screw up the business mandate, well, then you make it harder for insurance companies to participate in the exchanges, and when you make it harder for insurance companies to participate, well, then all of those poor suckers (mostly young adults) who will face a fine if they don’t buy insurance, will have no private insurance to buy.

You take away one portion of Obamacare, and then, the whole thing collapses.

The President thinks he is smarter than everybody else, and he makes bold policy promises based purely on political considerations.

He promised to pull out of Iraq and Afghanistan because he thought it made a nice campaign ad.  And it did.  But Iraq is a bigger mess because of it, and Afghanistan is more screwed up because the President gave the Taliban our timetable when we are going to pull out of there.

The White House is now delaying this key part of their most important achievement because they are worried primarily about the politics.  Oh, and of course, the fact that the law is nowhere near ready to be implemented because of sheer incompetence by this Administration.

The President can run but he can’t hide from his singular achievement.  He can hope that the American people are so stupid that just because this business mandate is pushed back after next year’s election, that they won’t notice and won’t punish the Democrats.

But the fact of the matter is that Obamacare is not popular with the voters, and it is not getting any more popular.  And creating more uncertainty with this law is not going to help settle down the job creation market.  More uncertainty won’t help the business community.  More uncertainty won’t help economic growth.

Voters in the next election know that Obamacare is still coming, unless they do something dramatic to repeal it.  And they won’t get there by voting for the President’s Congressional allies in 2014.

Topic: Democrats

Jedi Mind Trick Fail


By John Feehery


The Ranking Member of the House Government and Oversight Committee tried to channel is inner-Alec Guinness the other day, but he failed spectacularly.

Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, tried to pull one over on the American people earlier this week.  Here is how the Wall Street Journal’s John McKinnon put it:

“Earlier this week, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), said he’s ready to drop the matter, following an interview on Thursday of an employee in the Cincinnati office that oversees handling of tax-exempt applications. The employee, who was a manager at the time, said the scrutiny started in early 2010 with an agent who noticed a single tea-party application come in, and flagged it for closer review. The manager “agreed that the case should be forwarded up the chain to technical officials in…Washington…and he did so,” according to a Democratic staff memo that Mr. Cummings’s office released on Sunday.  Mr. Cummings says that means the idea for scrutinizing tea-party cases came from Cincinnati workers, and not Washington higher-ups or the White House.

“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved,” Mr. Cummings said on CNN on Sunday. “And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on, to be frank with you.”

This reminds me of that great Star Wars scene, when Obi Wan Kenobi tells a Storm Trooper, “there is nothing to see here,” and the Storm Trooper tells his colleagues “there is nothing to see here,” when trying to get Luke Skywalker out of a terrible jam.

Cummings was trying to do that with the IRS scandal, telling the media that the case was closed, essentially that there was nothing to see here.

But it didn’t work, and Cummings had to acknowledge last night that the case was not closed and that further investigation is probably necessary.

Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa played the role of Count Dooku, telling Cummings that “your Jedi Mind tricks won’t work on me.”   And they didn’t.

Issa’s team hammered the Ranking Member mercilessly until he was forced to acknowledge a basic fact.  This case is not in any way closed.

This is not the first time that key Democrats have tried to brush these scandals under the rug.  The President’s top political mastermind, David Plouffe said last week:  “The question is, is that all Congress is going to do? Are we just going to be obsessed with scandal and trying to score political points, or the American people could not be screaming any more loudly, ‘Worry about us.’ ‘Work on the economy.’”

The problem for Plouffe and for Cummings is that we can’t really get to work on the economy if people completely distrust their government, if citizens are worried about an IRS that is out of control, if voters are panicked that the government will devalue the currency by spending like drunken sailors and then refusing to pay the bills.

Trust in the government is an essential component of long-term fiscal and economic health, and if we don’t have it, we won’t get it.

And we won’t get it if the Democrats continue to try to pull Jedi Mind tricks on the press and the people.  We don’t need tricks.  We need transparency.

Topic: Democrats

The Method to McCain’s Town Hall Madness


By John Feehery


There is a method to John McCain’s madness.  There must be.

McCain did a town hall meeting in his home state of Arizona on the issue of immigration.  Town hall meetings, in the modern era, are fraught with peril for any politician.  You get all of the crazy people at town hall meetings, all of the activists, the eccentrics, the people who have nothing better to do.  You also get angry people.  Lots of angry people.

We all know what happened when Democrats did town hall meetings on President Obama’s health care plan a couple of years ago.  It was pure mayhem.  People who showed up at those gatherings hated Obama, hated what he was doing on health care, and loved to bring their iPhones to capture their anger.

The town hall uprising on Obamacare almost side-tracked the legislation.   The energy created by those town hall meetings helped Republicans take back the House in 2010.

The town hall meeting became so symbolic of conservative anger that is spawned a website called, Town Hall, where all the conservatives gather to vent online, quite often at Republican leaders.

McCain and his crack political team knows all of this.  The Arizona Senator has been around the block a few times.  He is pretty good in a town hall format.  He is more than wiling to take on and debate people who disagree with him.  I think he actually kind of enjoys it.

But doing a town hall and getting yelled at by constituents isn’t that much fun for any politician, no matter how thick-skinned.

And it isn’t like Arizonans suddenly loves their Mexican neighbors to the south streaming across the border.  A certain sector of the Republican base is as virulently anti-immigrant as it was before the election.  Unlike John McCain –who upon announcing his latest agreement in principle with Democrats on an immigration reform bill, said that Republicans had to do something because they were getting killed with the Hispanic vote — this disgruntled group of conservative voters don’t give a rat’s ass about the political prospects of the Republican Party.  They only care about their personal safety and what they hate is the fact that so many Mexicans have made their way to Arizona (by the way, Mexicans have been making their way to Arizona for about 500 years).

McCain knows all of this, but he invited the cameras in and had his town hall meeting and the crazies came out to play.

For the former GOP standard bearer, this particular town hall served several purposes.

  1. First, it reminded the Washington intelligensia how hard it is for Republicans to push for comprehensive immigration reform.  This is hard work folks and Republicans can only give so much before their political base deserts them.
  2. Second, McCain gets credit from his colleagues for showing leadership on the issue.  He is not ducking his constituents.  He is taking them head-on.
  3. Third, McCain should get credit from his constituents.  He is making his case directly to them.  He is selling something that many in his party don’t really want to buy.  But he isn’t staying in Washington.  He is engaging.
  4. Fourth, McCain wanted to teach the President a few things about the Republican base.   The President might think that when McCain and Rubio are bargaining, that they don’t really understand their own voters.  In fact, Obama does this to Boehner all of the time.  But McCain can now give the President proof about how upset this makes his voters, and in the process, he might get a few more concessions out of him.

John McCain has been through more than a few of these battles.  That town hall blowup was no accident.

Topic: Democrats

Learning From Obama


By John Feehery


The President’s second inaugural brilliantly pushed forward his political agenda in ways that Republicans need to understand and learn from.

Republicans will never be able to outbid the President when it comes to coalition politics.  But they need to appreciate how coalition politics, as practiced by the Democrats in the Obama era, is played and they need to come up with a game plan to counter it.

The President’s message was aspirational for the country, inspirational for his coalition partners and infuriating for his opposition.  He was able to make the cause of his diverse coalition – gays, immigrants, anti-gun people, African-Americans, Hispanics, poor people – seemingly the most important cause of the nation.  And he dared the Republicans to oppose it.

He skillfully weaved the story of America into the story of these coalition partners, ignoring the arguments from the other side, and posited in unsubtle terms that to oppose his agenda was essentially un-patriotic.

Most importantly, the President set out a road-map to complete the mission.  His message was sharply positive, and he promised to give his partners something, not take something away from the people who elected him.

Republicans keep promising the American people, and these same coalition partners, that they are going to take things away, all in the name of fiscal restraint.  Republicans used to argue for growing the pie, in the name of economic growth.  Now, they argue that everything is too expensive and that benefits must be cut.  They are like the teetotalers who show up a Keg party and tell everybody that drinking beer is bad for you.

Mitt Romney’s campaign, for example promised to stop a tax break for wind energy in Iowa.  That may have given Mitt some fiscal credibility, but it also lost him Iowa.

Republicans don’t do coalition politics very well, which could probably explain why they don’t have a very big coalition any more.   But instead of outbidding Obama, they could try to talk about the universal benefits of their policies, tailored more specifically to each group.

But first, they have to stop hating people.  They have to stop hating gay people, Hispanic people, black people, single females, thesbians, etc. and they have to condemn their so-called allies who go out of their way to offend them.

They have to then start talking about economic growth.  And they can’t talk about economic growth only with their big donors or in their districts.  They have to talk about economic growth in the big cities, in areas beset by poverty, for immigrants, for Hispanics, for Asians, for blacks.

They need to ditch their anti-government message and develop an economic growth message.   They need to come up with politics where government can be transformed to help spur growth.  Getting rid of all government won’t work.  Making government work better will work.

They need to get onto a personal security message.   They need to think critically about how to change the war on drugs into a war on addiction.  They need to think less about throwing people into jail after a crime is committed and more about making sure the crime isn’t committed in the first place.  This message will work especially well in high crime areas.

Republicans need a political reform message.  They have got their heads handed to them on voter fraud in the last election.  That was seen as an effort to suppress the vote, a bad message for a party that has inherited a good portion of the Dixiecrat coalition.   Clean elections should include campaign finance reform, earmark reform and over-all making sure that more people who want to vote, can vote.   We should be pushing for a bigger political pie because we want more voters, not fewer voters, to vote for us.  We should drop cynicism as a political strategy.   If Republicans promise and then deliver cleaner, more honest elections, they will be promising the voters something they actually want.

Republicans also need to expand the pro-family message that the party thinks it has a lock on.  A two-parent family usually does better than a single-parent family, for obvious reasons.  Twice the resources (quite often), twice the parental involvement, twice the efficiency in spending.  But Republicans don’t need to get all preachy about it.  And a pro-family message doesn’t have to be anti-gay.   While marriage is important and I am big supporter of it, successful families don’t necessarily include marriage.   It can include the extended family that comes from many immigrant communities.  Republicans should be all for keeping these family together with common sense immigration policies.  The important things that come from a family are love, stability, teamwork, and the creation of good habits for the kids, which helps makes them better citizens for all of us.  The world is a complex place and it is changing rapidly.  The GOP shouldn’t be stuck pining for the past.  They should be promoting policies that make it easier for families (in all of their forms) to thrive in the future.

America wants a positive message from its political leaders.  It also wants to know what the politicians are going to do for them, not to them.  A e can trump Obama’s brand of goodies for every separate group.  But first the GOP has to try it.


Sign up for The Feehery Theory mailing list and receive an email each time a blog is posted.

  • Quotable, up-to-the-minute opinions.
  • Insider perspective of a Capitol Hill veteran and Republican pundit.
  • Never miss a post.

Subscribe now for theories on all things, but mostly politics.