Washington Republicans Declare War…On Each Other

This week’s Courier Herald Column:

This weekend marked the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga. It was the first major battle of the Civil War fought in Georgia.  It marked a temporary victory for the Confederacy.  It cost the largest number of lives of any battle not named Gettysburg.

To commemorate the occasion, there have been a couple of reenactments.  There was of course the expected one in Walker County, and then there was the less expected replication coming from within Republican Circles in DC.

The battle for the heart and direction of the Republican Party began a new public chapter last week when House Republicans coalesced around a plan to pass a Continuing Resolution which would fund the federal government past September 30th’s fiscal year end but stripped all funding for the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.  Georgia’s own Tom Graves – Chickamauga’s congressman – sponsored the concept in the House that was ultimately adopted by last Friday.

Momentum for the effort pushed by Graves in the House and Senator Ted Cruz in the Senate throughout the week.  On Monday, a press conference with Graves, Tom Price, and Lynn Westmoreland signaled various factions within the conservative wing of the House GOP were adopting the plan.  By mid-week, more center-right members were signing on.  By week’s end, House leadership had had enough of the challenges from Cruz and assaults from hard right social media that they decided to give Cruz, Mike Lee, and the others in the Senate what they were asking for.

The result was a bit…unexpected.  As House Republicans were announcing they would vote on and pass the CR defunding Obamacare, Cruz and Lee held a press conference announcing it wouldn’t pass the Senate.  Lee went so far as to say “Shutdowns are bad. Shutdowns are not worth it. This law is not worth shutting the government down over.”

House members, particularly those in leadership who have grown accustomed to being used as a piñata by those wishing to demonstrate they possess superior conservative principles, were not amused.  By the time Ted Cruz made it to Fox News Sunday – traditionally a safe place to air the talking points of the hard right – Cruz met a Chris Wallace that was prepared with the help of “top Republicans” for the exchange.

Republican leaders in Washington are clearly growing frustrated with those they feel are spending more time advancing their personal conservative principles over the advancement of a conservative agenda.  Cruz has been goading both the House and fellow Republican Senators for months.  Ads from the Senate Conservatives Fund attacked Senate Majority leader McConnell, along with GOP Senators Burr, Cochran, Flake, Graham and even Georgia’s Johnny Isakson – but not a single Democrat.

Meanwhile, those in the House who trumpet their “commitment to principles” often point to their lack of vote for Speaker Boehner’s re-election, but slink away from microphones when asked why their principled leadership failed to offer an alternative to Boehner’s candidacy.

There is, and always will be, a market for those who wish to play a holier than thou game in Washington.  The problem with these games is that the winners are individuals.  They are lone Congressmen, Senators, Pundits – and the fundraising arms of the groups that fund them.  The winners are not the GOP, and they are certainly not the American People.

At some point, those who enjoy the constant adoration of the purists must make a decision.  Either they can use their pedestals to which they have perched themselves to exert actual leadership toward legislative action that will pass, or they can continue on the path to being the kings of a permanent minority party in the role of chief critic.

Republicans are now clearly on a journey that Cruz and company are delighted to have started, despite their inability to articulate an end game.  As Senator Johnny Isakson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “If you just back away from the politics and take an unvarnished look at the rules and the Constitution, unless you have a break in political loyalties by the majority party of the Senate – which, again, is the hope right now – you don’t have the mathematics or the ability to pass what you want to pass or override a veto of the president.”

Of course, too many who follow Cruz and the like would expect that these words of reality are grounds for being called a RINO – Republican In Name Only.  So perhaps they would instead prefer to hear from someone like Talk Radio Personality Neal Boortz, who tweeted: “Sorry folks. This GOP effort to defund 0bamacare is doomed for now.  Concentrate on taking the Senate, then come up with better plan.”

There’s a novel thought.  Win an election.  But that takes strategy, tactics, and the realization that each state, and each district, isn’t made up of voters that are just like each critic.


  1. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    Random: The US Army’s 19th Infantry Regiment is nick named the Rock of Chicamauga, after Union General Thomas leadership in that battle. They’ve seen action continuously from the Civil War to present. My father, a nice kid from Brooklyn, served with them in WW2. In his 70’s he finally got to see the battlefield, it made him cry for all the terrible losses.

    The Battle of Chicamauga saw the second highest casualties after Gettysburg. I hope the losses in the Republican Party don’t resemble that statistic. It’s unhealthy for this country to be constantly at war with our selves.

      • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

        Fight, Fight, Fight…. WE’ll lose this the honorable way, fighting our way to the Minority.

        Obviously, ACA is a tax, and obviously the Party of Tax won their fight to give every American the appearance of universal coverage. The Party of NO! nary bothered to enact healthcare finance reform when we owned all three Branches, guess that was not worth the fight. Instead , we got Medicare Part D, the biggest pharma giveaway, ever.

        ACA’s Bronze Plan is nothing more than a price list discount, with a government subsidy attached, yet, my prediction is that Americans will embrace ACA by 2016. People will like that they cannot be refused insurance for preexisting conditions, that rescission and lifetime caps have disappeared, and kids up to 26 are allowed to stay on the fam-plan.

        Even though the whole of it is driving the train off the cliff at a faster speed.

        By all means, fight, fight, fight….fight them and not ourselves.

          • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

            I hear ya, Harry. There just doesn’t seem to be any room for compromise, finding middle ground, and common points to agree upon, does there?

            The whole of it will settle itself when the music stops playin’ again, when the Black Swan revisits.

            • Harry says:

              Oh, wait, this is the real world we live in.

              “They offer superficial treatments for my people’s mortal wound. They give assurances of peace when there is no peace.” – Jeremiah 6:14

  2. KingRichard says:

    Chris Wallace amazed at how many Republicans gave him unsolicited advice on how to hammer Cruz. You know you are working for the people when the insiders attack you. I am expecting Chambliss and Issakson to join with Cruz and fight Obamacare until we have no more options. They better or voters will never vote them back in and I know Chambliss is retiring.

    Worst bill ever, passed in 2 years when Dems controled House, Senate, Congress. Forcefully Rammed down the throats of Americans a bill they did not want using every legislative trick in the book. This is not what insurance reform should have looked like. This is about taking more money from Americans to give to the Government so they can ruin something else.

    No one wants Obamacare except Obama and even he like the rest of Government is excempt from this awful bill but Obama wants us on it. No one likes Obamacare, not unions, not IRS, not McDonalds, not CostCo, not Walmart, not Walgreens, not Trader Joes, not the Cleveland Clinic, not Emory University – no one wants it!

    Thanks Left Leaning, Socialists, Marxists, Communists buried balls deep in the Democratic Donkey!

    We probably won’t ever be able to get rid ot this terrible, job killing, health care ruining, bill but Millions upon millions of us will fight it until the very end…and we will not be voting into office the very people who chose not to fight to remove, defund, delay it. The Bill is terrible! Biggest bill in history of America, 10,000 pages of regulations, 200 agencies created. To be overseen by IRS, their excempt from it, we better have given all required cash to government or no healthcare for you…

    Worst ever!

  3. D_in_ATL says:

    Reminds me of the old adage…
    Winners never quit; quitters never win. But, if you can’t win and you won’t quit then your an idiot.
    Republican are being idiots. They need to move on.

  4. John Konop says:

    The GOP needs to get it together, hard to win a gun fight when your team is in a circle shooting at each other with one hand, and you are shooting your own foot with the other……good post Charlie!

  5. Three Jack says:

    The Republican Party has so many personalities it needs to have a little skirmish. The old guard, many of whom were part of the ‘Moral Majority’ movement during Reagan’s terms are being challenged by a new logical majority determined to shake up DC. The fight needs to happen and the sooner it does, the better for the long term viability of the GOP.

    I look forward to seeing reasonable people like Rep. Justin Amash and Sen. Rand Paul step forward to steer the party in a new, more logical direction.

    • Charlie says:

      Rand Paul said it won’t work.

      And if you think “Oh wait, there’s a camera” Amash is one of the reasonable ones, then please smoke another one for me.

      • Three Jack says:

        Firing it up now. Name one DC politician not seeking facetime in front of a camera and I’ll show you a short timer.

        I think Rand Paul is right in the middle of the fight for control of the party, or at least to add more influence from libertarian leaning members. If he opposes the haphazard approach Cruz took to this one fight, he will be the better for it when time comes to really start the 2016 campaign.

      • Three Jack says:

        Rand Paul takes the reasonable approach, vote to defund knowing that will likely not succeed then work to find a compromise — http://www.politico.com/story/2013/09/rand-paul-obamacare-compromise-97203.html?hp=l18

        Justin Amash also makes a logical point – “We’re talking about delaying Obamacare. Which is something the president has asked for with the employer mandate. So let’s delay it for everyone. I think we’re doing the president a favor if we delay it. The program is not ready to be implemented. If anything the president should be asking us to delay it because it’s better for him politically.”

  6. Dave Bearse says:

    The establishment Leadership, unlike Constitutionalist Tea Partiers, know that conservatives can’t govern with one-half of one of three branches of government.

    Maybe that’s why the GaGOP wants greater emphasis on the Constitution than is in Common Core, because the base doesn’t seem to understand the Constitution.

    And accompanying the request for greater emphasis on the Constitution was inclusion of fiscal conservatism in the curriculum.

    It’s a good way for students to that modern fiscal conservatism consists of reducing the safety net, shifting tax burden from the rich to everyone else, increasing military spending, but cutting other spending, except of course when conservatives are in the majority.

  7. DavidTC says:

    The fun thing that no one’s noticed is that Cruz is an idiot, and the House is full of idiots who copied his language. I quote the relevant part of the bill:
    (a) In General- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds shall be made available to carry out any provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) or title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152), or of the amendments made by either such Act [i.e., ObamaCare].

    (b) Limitation- No entitlement to benefits under any provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148) or title I and subtitle B of title II of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-152), or the amendments made by either such Act [i.e., ObamaCare], shall remain in effect on and after the date of the enactment of this Act, nor shall any payment be awarded, owed, or made to any State, District, or territory under any such provision.

    (c) Unobligated Balances- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all unobligated balances available under the provisions of law referred to in subsection (a) [i.e., ObamaCare] are hereby rescinded.

    They passed a bill that forbid funding any of the changes of the ACA, and any payments made under that act. It doesn’t say ‘The previous laws go back into effect’. Seriously. Read part (a) carefully.

    Laws are not some weird additive things where section (9)(e)(i) said ‘Funding is $X’ and another law adds (9)(e) (ii) said ‘And also we add $Y’. No, if they want to add Y to the funding of that thing, they pass a law saying that (9)(e)(i) is now ‘Funding is $Z’, where Z is X+Y.

    This is rather obvious, because otherwise we’d have hundreds of times more laws than we currently have, and we have quite enough already. When funding levels change in laws, those laws are _amended_. The old level is not to be found anywhere in the law.

    Everyone get that?

    So, if the ACA says ‘Change the amount $1000 in unrelated law to $1100’, than if Cruz’s idiotic law passes, that thing now _has no funding at all_. That law was amended by the ACA, and hence cannot be funded. It doesn’t somehow revert to the old funding. The old funding isn’t even law anymore!

    For an example, the ACA _amended_ Medicaid payment levels, which means that now no Medicaid can be paid for. The House Republicans just voted to destroy Medicaid, apparently without _noticing_.

    They probably did the same to Medicare also. And social security, and the VA too. Who the hell knows? The ACA touched a _lot_ of laws, none of which anyone is allowed to fund _at all_ anymore in stupid-Republican land.

    In the other direction, of course, the _mandate_ would still exist, and you have to pay fines if you are not insured. People would still be required to buy insurance on the exchanges, which the government must still operate although it can’t pay for them. Don’t worry, the government is still required to give subsidies, although somehow it can’t pay for them.

    It removes funding and entitlements. That’s it. The CR the House just passed literally _cannot function_. You can’t just leave a law intact, with monies moving around, things that must be done…and just forbid the government to use any money in relation to it. And you can’t just blanket forbid funding ‘the ACA and amendments’ anyway, because that law touched lots of _existing_ laws in it.

    The Republicans apparently can’t only figured out the ‘replace’ part of ‘repeal and replace’, they’ve just demonstrated they don’t even know how to do the ‘repeal’ part.

  8. John Konop says:

    The sad part about this issue is it clouds the real problem both parties ignore. The budget fight should be centered around entitlements, military budget and war on drugs. Anyone who can do basic math and knows the budget will tell that is the key. Instead once again we are fighting the boggyman over dealing with the core problem.

    Unless we have grown ups dealing with the above over this bs……it will only be time before the car crashes…..

    • Ghost of William F Buckley says:

      Go short on Japan? Millions will make fortunes when the music stops, again.

      How hard is it to simply listens to what Mr. Konop is saying, then act? Same tune, same guy, for years now, and yet nobody seems to get it-

      “There’s clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am,”

      Nitty Gritty version:

  9. northside101 says:

    Hmm…I’ve never seem anyone of the Obama-firendly Press Corps ask Obama if he actually read all 2,400 pages of the legislation before signing it, given the complicated language and the time demands on his day. In the meanwhile, I’d put the following two items in the House-passed bill to address the two most onerous portions:
    (1) No person may be required by the federal government to purchase health insurance; and
    (2) No employer may be required by the federal government to provide health insurance to their employees.

    As for complaints the IRS is underfunded…GOP can tell the Democrats, we’ll increase funding conditioned on removal of provisions allowing the IRS to monitor whether people have health insurance…

    • John Konop says:

      What your asking for is elimination of requiring people to have health insurance? Would you support not treating people who do have health insurance and cannot pay, and if not are you not just supporting no accountability?

      • seenbetrdayz says:

        I think what most people have a problem with is that the IRS was just caught in a massive scandal for singling out political opposition groups and being used essentially as henchmen for the party in power. I’m talking about Soviet Union KGB-esque bull****.

        Those aren’t ideally the people you want checking in on your healthcare.

          • seenbetrdayz says:

            That’s what I was saying the whole time the IRS scandal blew open, lol.

            You want to put an unaccountable gov’t agency in charge of making sure citizens are held accountable? Where’s my Willy Wonka meme generator when I need it?

            • John Konop says:

              Who should collect the taxes? If you are manufacturing tires, and your cars got recalled for a bad process, you would fix the process, not stop putting tires on cars.

              • seenbetrdayz says:

                Firstly, the people who run the manufacturing process would be fired, not promoted. Secondly, consumers typically have the option of using another tire manufacturer (I haven’t used firestone tires since the recall in 2000). Neither of those are options with the IRS. Lastly, while it is not wise to go without tires, I would at the very least not be arrested for refusing to buy tires at all.

                You have a lot to learn about the differences between compulsion and competition.

                  • seenbetrdayz says:

                    What I’m saying is that there’s a huge difference between a tire market with multiple businesses competing, than the IRS, which is essentially the top dog and only dog in its ‘trade’.

                    All I’m saying is that it was a very poor analogy. As far as competing with the IRS, we’ve got a better chance of seeing Obama give up his Nobel peace prize than ever seeing the IRS’s authority threatened.

                    The real kicker is that YOU want to give them even MORE power. I’m just baffled, is all. You can’t cry about ‘accountability’ out of one side of your mouth and then advocate we turn the reigns over to the IRS.

    • benevolus says:

      Right. You also need to include a change to the 1986 EMTALA law. That’s right, Ronald Reagan (huzzah!) signed it so be careful treading on it!

  10. northside101 says:

    John, desirable means (everyone having health insurance) cannot be justified by unconstitutional actions. There is no evidence that the Constitution’s drafters ever intended people to be required by the Feds to buy health insurance. That being the case, Obama first should have sought passage of a constitutional amendment to allow Congress to require such purchase, and then if that passed, we could have a legitimate debate on the topic. But of course that would require two-thirds of Congress and three-fourths of the states to go along for passage—LOL in today’s divided country.

    No one has the right to something which would require someone else to provide that thing. Reminds me of the “Bill of No Rights” someone handed to me years ago, something we need these days (like you do not have the right to free health care, a job, a flat screen television, public housing). Obama of course doesn’t like that the Constitution is a restraint—or should be—on government power, as there’s hardly anything he believes is outside federal purview.

    And then what gives Washington the right to tell me what coverage I must obtain? That is the crux of the battle between Obama and the Catholic Church these days over contraceptive coverage. Doesn’t matter that most couples use it; what matters is Obama is forcing a religious institution (easily the largest in the US and of course the world) to violate its teachings to provide contraceptives. (I guess next Obama and company will demand that the Church ordain women as priests or lose tax exemptions.) I mean, should nuns have contraceptive and abortion coverage?

    Of course Obamas’ predecessor wasn’t so hot on the Constitution, as seen in 2001 by passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, biggest federal intrusion into our schools since perhaps the LBj days—even though the Constitution provides no role for Washington to dictate what is taught in our schools. But Republicans, after Bush’s narrow win (in the Electoral College anyway, not the popular vote) over Gore in 2000, felt they had to get more women on their side for 2004, hence the passage of an act both unconstitutional and unrealistic.

    • John Konop says:

      ………..desirable means (everyone having health insurance) cannot be justified by unconstitutional actions. There is no evidence that the Constitution’s drafters ever intended people to be required by the Feds to buy health insurance……..

      Is it unconstitutional to provide healthcare at county hospitals to people who do not have health insurance or the money to pay for it? If not why? And if yes should we just let them die, get sicker, spread disease…..?

      • Harry says:

        It’s not unconstitutional to provide healthcare at county hospitals to people who do not have health insurance or the money to pay for it. The Constitution doesn’t preclude states and localities from engaging in such activity.

        • John Konop says:

          In all due respect, you cannot argue in one hand it is unconstitutional to require people to pay for healthcare, but it is ok to force tax payers to pay for healthcare for other people.

          • Harry says:

            I’m looking at it from a federal vs. state, 10th Amendment perspective. And no, I don’t agree with the recent SC decision because as an anti-federalist I put much more value on the 10th Amendment.

  11. northside101 says:

    John, I did not realize you were a liberal Democrat—I thought you ran as a Republican against Tom Price back in 2006. Maybe I have the wrong John Konop—or if both are the same, I see why you got a mere 18 percent against Price in the 2006 primary.

    A libertarian friend of mine years ago suggested we needed a “Bill of No Rights” to clarify that what some people may think of as (economic) rights don’t exist in the Constitution. Among those:

    ARTICLE 4: “You do not have the right to free food and housing…Americans…are growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes, who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.”

    ARTICLE 5: “You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing. we’re just not interested in public health care.

    Another Libertarian with wise advice on health care was Harry Browne (1933-2006) who wrote among other books The Great Libertarian Offer. With regard to health care, he noted something that Obama and the liberal Democrats can’t seem to admit (it would require passage of Economics 101): “There aren’t enough resources in the world…or in the universe…to meet the health care wish of every citizen. Choices always have to be made….When patients don’ t have to consider the cost of anything, they deny themselves nothing that might conceivably improve their health.” (That of course drives up usage…and costs). He also pointed out how insurance costs have gone up when insurers have to cover every procedure under the sun—like if your auto insurance policy were to cover routine oil changes. “It makes no sense for the government to force you to pay for…coverage if you would prefer a cheaper policy.”

    Didn’t LBJ promise in 1965 (when Medicare was passed), that it would “only” cost $9 billion a year by 1990. Well, I think that figure was off quite a bit (maybe by a zero on the end?), but it did not matter to him—he was already dead 17 years by then.

    As for whom hospitals admit, Harry is right on Constitution not precluding that.

    Instead of passing a 2400-page bill that probably no one read in its entirety (much less understood), on a party-line vote, we should have let the states try Obamacare if they wanted to. See how such worked in a few states, and if it were so great, then other states would want to adopt it.

    The political tragedy of it all is that this awful legislation passed with not a vote to spare in the Senate (I mean, what Democrat was going to say no to Harry Reid?), and with only one vote to spare in the Supreme Court, thanks to of all people a Republican appointee, John Roberts. (Usually when there is a surprise vote on the Supreme Court, it is due to a Republican appointee “evolving” into a more liberal position. Roe v Wade? Authored by Harry Blackmuh, a Nixon appointee. Roe v Wade upheld again in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v Casey? Thank GOP appointees Anthony Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor. In contrast, the liberal appointees are reliably liberal—could you imagine for instance Ruth Bader Ginsberg ever upholding a single restriction on abortion? Odds would be better you’d see snow in Miami on the 4th of July….)

    • griftdrift says:

      Welcome to the RINO club John.

      Instead of tackling everything. Just one small point.

      “We should have let the states…..Obamacare if they wanted to. See how such worked in a few states, and if it were so great, then other states would want to adopt it.”

      That’s exactly what the exchanges do. But we chose not to implement them because of socialism or something.

    • John Konop says:

      ………….John, I did not realize you were a liberal Democrat—I thought you ran as a Republican against Tom Price back in 2006. Maybe I have the wrong John Konop—or if both are the same, I see why you got a mere 18 percent against Price in the 2006 primary………..

      Call me what you want when I ran for office ……All I know is I warned against the out of control liberal lending law backed by tax payers, and was called “Chicken Little” by so called conservatives. I warned against the policemen of the world foreign policy not working and costing to much life and money. I warned that the Medicare Drug Bill would blow up the budget and we need to deal with entitlements not add more. I warned against the one size fit all No Child Left Behind hurting the education system, especially for vo-tech students. Now we have close to 2 million job openings, and a lack of trained workers.

      Call me whatever you want, but like this issue facts are on my side. Like the others issues it will come out in the wash. Telling the truth is not what people like to hear many times. Obviously from reading your comment, you would rather spew political BS, than deal with the issue. But as we say in business, it is what is……..

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