consortiumnews.com — For anyone who has lived through the past several decades of Republican bullying – from Richard Nixon’s anything-goes politics through Karl Rove’s dreams of a “permanent Republican majority” – it had to be startling to hear House Speaker John Boehner complaining that President Barack Obama’s goal was “to annihilate” the GOP. During a private luncheon of the Republican Ripon Society on Tuesday, Boehner cited Obama’s progressive agenda as outlined in his Second Inaugural Address as representing an existential threat to the GOP. The Ohio Republican also claimed that it was Obama’s goal “to just shove us into the dustbin of history.” Of course, Boehner may be wildly exaggerating the Republican plight to shock the party out of its funk, raise more money, and get right-wing activists back to the barricades. Still, his comments marked a remarkable reversal of fortune, like the playground bully getting his nose bloodied and running to the teacher in tears.
talkingpointsmemo.com — The big news is that Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell have agreed to a very modest set of Senate rules reforms (I can’t call them filibuster reforms, because they don’t reform the modern filibuster at all). It should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the story for the past few weeks. When the majority’s big stick is threatening to use the nuclear option to impose very modest reforms because the party can’t reach internal consensus on anything meaningful — well, it mean things aren’t going very well. But the filibuster remains a huge impediment to the majority doing what it wants to do, and thus distorts the public’s sense of who’s at fault for governing failures. It’s been a huge, and historically unprecedented problem for Democrats for four years. So why didn’t they take unilateral action for stronger reforms?
robertreich.org — The richest 1 percent now own more than 35 percent of all of the nation’s household wealth, and 38 percent of the nation’s financial assets – including stocks and pension-fund. Think about this: The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together. The 6 Walmart heirs have more wealth than bottom 33 million American families combined. So why are we even contemplating cutting programs the middle class and poor depend on, and raising their taxes? We should tax the vast accumulations of wealth now in the hands of a relative few.
Since the moment I began researching my book “Hostile Takeover” at the end of George W. Bush’s first term, I’ve been consumed with how America’s political vernacular is subtly skewed to prefer certain legislative outcomes and preclude others. We see it in the debate over social programs, where those committed to cutting Social Security are not only portrayed as working to strengthen the program, but also billed as “moderates” despite their position on the decidedly radical, not-moderate outskirts of public opinion. We see it in how President Obama’s inaugural speech is depicted as advocating a “leftist” agenda, despite polls showing that nearly every policy he advocated is supported by a majority of all Americans — not just those on the left. And, no doubt, we see it in how the Obama administration labels its liberal critics “fringe” even though those critics who are advocating policies in the mainstream center of public opinion. more »
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washingtonpost.com — Republicans wanted nothing more than to summon Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Capitol Hill and grill her about the tragic fiasco in Benghazi. Sadly for them, they got their wish. Clinton’s smooth and confident performance at Wednesday’s Senate and House committee hearings was fun to watch. When her would-be inquisitors asked serious questions, she gave serious answers. But when Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), full of bombast and faux outrage, accused the administration of initially misstating the nature of the Benghazi attack, she responded with table-pounding thunder: “What difference, at this point, does it make?” And when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said that he would have fired her had he been president, she answered with an icy cut of her eyes that said: Fat chance.
dailykos.com — No doubt you've seen Sen. Rand Paul's made-for-TV tantrum yesterday at the U.S. Senate's Benghazi hearing. Setting aside Sen. Paul's thickheaded and insensitive remark that the murder of four Americans in Libya is "the worst tragedy since 9/11"—worse, for example, than 4,000 Americans killed in a pointless and costly war—his tea party toadying, "Had I been president," should not pass without comment.
If Sen. Paul had been president, of course, the mess in Benghazi probably would've been a lot worse, as our embassy personnel would have had much less protection, given the GOP's deep cuts to Secretary Clinton's security requests. But he's not president, and here's why he shouldn't even open his pie hole to entertain the possibility.
prospect.org — The verdict from pundits is in: Barack Obama’s Inaugural speech signaled his ambition to be the “liberal Reagan,” and the Big Question about his second term is whether he’ll achieve that goal. Here’s the problem. Ronald Reagan wasn't really the Reagan of everyone’s imagination. So aspiring to be a “liberal Reagan” is chasing a fantasy. Worse than that—it’s a fantasy that can easily distract a president from the real things that he should be doing.
economix.blogs.nytimes.com — Congressional Republicans are again threatening not to increase the ceiling on the amount of federal government debt that can be issued. On Wednesday, they agreed to postpone this particular piece of the fiscal confrontation, but only until May. The decision to turn the debt ceiling into a confrontation is a big mistake for the Republicans and extending the indecision is likely to prolong the agony of uncertainty and have damaging economic consequences for the country. I made these points at a hearing on Tuesday of the House Ways and Means Committee, but unfortunately the Republican majority seems determined to persevere with its destabilizing strategy.
thedailybeast.com — What with everything going on these days, it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that Reince Priebus hasn’t been foremost in your mind lately. Well, this is your opportunity to correct that error, because I deliver tidings that the Republican National Committee is holding its winter meeting right now, starting yesterday, in Charlotte. A-Number-One on Chairman Priebus’s list, say advance reports, is figuring ways the GOP can attract more support among minorities. Well, they could. But they’d have to do things that would make them not the Republican Party anymore, and their base would never permit it.