Monday, January 26, 2015

Last Call For If You Can't Beat 'Em, Buy 'Em

Thanks to the Citizens United decision, the Koch Brothers are looking to more than double their war chest for buying America's elections, one race at a time.  And they have amassed a network of donors and backers that plan to spend a billion dollars to purchase your votes for the GOP in 2016.

A network of conservative advocacy groups backed by Charles and David Koch aims to spend a staggering $889 million in advance of the next White House election, part of an expansive strategy to build on its 2014 victories that may involve jumping into the Republican primaries.

The massive financial goal was revealed to donors here Monday during an annual winter meeting hosted by Freedom Partners, the tax-exempt business lobby that serves as the hub of the Koch-backed political operation, according to an attendee. The amount is more than double the$407 million that 17 allied groups in the network raised during the 2012 campaign.

The figure comes close to the $1 billion that each of the two major parties’ presidential nominees are expected to spend in 2016, and it cements the network’s standing as one of the country’s most potent political forces. With its resources and capabilities — including a national field operation and cutting-edge technology — it is challenging the primacy of the official parties. In the 2012 elections, the Republican National Committee spent $404 million, while the Democratic National Committee shelled out $319 million.

The new $889 million goal reflects the anticipated budgets of all the allied groups that the network funds. Those resources will go into field operations, new data-driven technology and policy work, among other projects, along with likely media campaigns aimed at shaping the congressional and White House elections.

So the Kochs have a billion, the Republicans are looking to put together another billion, and the Democrats are playing catch up.  So enjoy America!  If you hated negative political ads 3 years ago, that's nothing compared to the onslaught that's coming, the one designed to make you give up on voting and give up on caring about voting...unless you're a Republican looking for some revenge for the Obama administration.

Odds are pretty good the Kochs will get the best government money can buy.

Duct Tape And Disembowelment

Greg Sargent calls out Republicans who are promising to "fix" the Affordable Care Act should the Supreme Court side with the GOP and end subsidies to the majority of states that are using federally-run insurance exchanges.

Here’s something to watch for: Republicans claiming in some vague way or other that, if SCOTUS does that, they just might be open to fixing the law. This rhetoric — deliberately or not — might make a SCOTUS decision gutting the law more likely
National Journal reports that top Senate Republicans claim they are already eying what to do if SCOTUS rules against the law. NJ reports that a Congressional fix — which would require re-writing a few words of statute — would originate in either the Finance or Health committees. The incoming chairmen of both — Orrin Hatch and Lamar Alexander — have begun to discuss ways of responding to a SCOTUS decision gutting the law, suggesting that perhaps a fix can be had in exchange for other changes to the law Republicans want. 
We should treat such suggestions with extreme skepticism. It’s hard to imagine Republicans agreeing to any fix to the law that doesn’t require enormous concessions from Democrats in return. (Republicans will be under pressure from stakeholders in the states impacted by a SCOTUS decision to fix the law, but they may argue, perhaps understandably, that Democrats are to blame for faulty drafting, so why should Republicans salvage the law for them?) Beyond this, though, some Democrats closely following the health care debate believe there is a possible consequence — unintended or otherwise — that could follow from such rhetoric. 
It all turns on one way Chief Justice John Roberts, the expected swing vote, might decide to gut the law. He might agree with the government’s argument that, read in its larger statutory context, the disputed “exchange established by the state” language doesn’t change the fact that Congress’ obvious intent was to provide subsidies to all 50 states. But he could still say that the language says what it says; that, given its plain meaning, it is obviously a mistake; and that it is not SCOTUS’s job to fix a mistake — that’s on Congress. 
Thus, the “maybe we’ll fix it” rhetoric coming from some Republicans might make it easier to entertain the idea that Congress would fix the law in the event of a SCOTUS ruling against it. The problem is that other leading Republicans have already given away the game: GOP Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and John Barrasso have clearly stated that they view a SCOTUS decision gutting the law as accomplishing what Republicans failed to accomplish themselves through the political and legislative process
As Nicholas Bagley explains, not only is such a SCOTUS ruling very likely to create a huge mess that could all but destroy the law in many, many states, but Republicans have already confirmed they are anticipating this outcome. Whether or not Roberts will care about this is an open question, but it is the reality of the situation.

So no, Republicans aren't going to "fix" Obamacare should SCOTUS rip its spine out, and if they do, the toll the GOP will exact will be devastating.  Most likely the GOP will attempt to both exact a high price, then of course the Tea Party will scuttle the deal and the law will be in real trouble of collapsing.

Republicans of course are perfectly okay with that.  Fixing it would require actual governance, and that, America, is going to cost you.

Executive action is all the rage in the White House these days, and it's hard to imagine a better candidate for unilateralism than fixing the Affordable Care Act in the wake of a crippling Supreme Court decision. That scenario would check every box: Republican intransigence; a top priority for Obama; and severe disruption in real people's lives. 
There's just one problem: A good administrative solution might not exist. 
"There are no administrative fixes that are realistic," said Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress. "We don't believe there's any administrative fix."

As the saying goes, now that we've determined what Republicans actually are, the only thing left to negotiate is the price.

The Year Of The Clown Van

Politico's Roger Simon laments that the Republican circus of 2012 has become the traveling freakshow of 2016, and if this weekend's Iowa Freedom Summit is any indication, for the rest of year this least we're looking at GOP politics as comedic performance art.

The Republican Party’s clown car has become a clown van.
With nearly two dozen possible presidential candidates, the GOP is having a seriousness deficit. There can’t possibly be that many people who are real candidates.

But they can ride in the clown car from event to event, and nobody can stop them.

At the Freedom Summit here Saturday, two dozen speakers ground through 10 hours of speeches in front of more than 1,000 far-right Republicans.

As it turned out, clown car candidates are not necessarily funny. Since they have nothing to lose, they can attack their fellow Republicans with abandon.

Usually they attack from the right, which can force the eventual nominee farther to the right than the nominee wants to go. This risks losing moderate voters in the general election.

This was not a concern at the Freedom Summit, however. The farther to the right, the better.

It was a classic cattle call, with speaker after speaker pandering to the crowd. Sometimes, however, pandering was not enough.

In the circus, the worse thing clowns lob is confetti. In the political circus, the clowns lob grenades. Verbal, to be sure, but they still can be deadly.

Bill O’Brien, a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, told the crowd: “I don’t know what is worse, nominating someone because he has been nominated once before (i.e., Mitt Romney) or someone who endorses Common Core (i.e., Jeb Bush). Are we going to nominate one of them?”

The audience bellowed: “Noooooo.

Indeed, Jeb and Mittens were nowhere near this mess, but the rest of them were:  Christie,  Trump, Huckabee, Santorum, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Newt Gingrich, Carly Fiorina, hell even Moose Lady was there.  The coming civil war in Reaganland is going to be brutal and bloody and when it's over the GOP is going to look as bombed-out and soulless as they are in the inside.

And we'll all have a huge laugh and figure that these freaks will be pushed aside for Mitt or more likely Jeb Bush and that the billionaires that really run the party will make their choice and get to work as soon as possible in order to go after Hillary with a united front.

But something tells me it's not going to be as easy as the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson think, especially after this.  All the money in the world might not be able to sell Jeb or Mitt to the Republicans who will be voting the primaries, which could make the July 2016 GOP convention in Cleveland into the Greatest Show on Earth.


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