Budget deal gives White House everything it wanted

The House of Representatives, which controls the nation’s purse strings, is dominated by Republicans.  But they just agreed to a budget deal that includes $680 billion in new spending and special-interest tax cuts.  The White House is claiming total victory.  The deal gives the Obama administration what it wanted on Obamacare, immigration, and the environment.  Planned Parenthood will keep its government funding.  Pretty much the only thing Republicans got in return was an end to the ban on oil exports.  Rush Limbaugh is calling for the Republican Party to be disbanded. See this for details.

UPDATE:  The House adopted the budget.

UPDATE:  So has the Senate, and the President has signed it.  Look, this budget does some good things, like give more money to the military, including giving troops a raise.  But it’s a return to the old deficit spending, reversing the budget reforms (for example, the agreement to balance new spending by making cuts elsewhere) of a few years ago.

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The four factions of the Republican party

In 2014, think tanker Henry Olsen studied polling and voting data for the last two decades and concluded that the Republican party contains four consistent “faces” (really, factions) that have remained remarkably stable over that time:

  • moderate or liberal voters (25-30%);
  • somewhat conservative voters (35-40%)
  • very conservative, evangelical voters (20%);
  • very conservative, secular voters (5-10%).

He shows how this breakdown accounts for the various presidential nominees, as the different factions coalesce around particular kinds of candidates during the winnowing process of the primaries.  He is currently using this model to analyze the 2016 race as it unfolds.

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Republican leaders are starting to panic

Republican leaders are in a state of fear that Donald Trump or Ben Carson could be their party’s nominee.  They had assumed that they would fade by now, but they haven’t!  The party leaders believe that if either of those two were nominated, Hillary Clinton would win easily and the Democrats would take back the Senate.  Some, showing loftier principles, are worried that someone totally unfit to be president might get elected, to the detriment of the nation.

To make it worse, the big Republican donors are holding back their money, either not knowing who to give it to or refusing to give to a lost cause.  Some Republicans are even trying to get Mitt Romney to come in as a late entrant to the race, hoping for a brokered convention.

Philip Rucker gives the inside story in the Washington Post in an article that Democrats and anti-establishment conservatives will find unintentionally humorous, though it may send mainline Republicans into despair. [Read more…]

Republicans pick Paul Ryan as House Speaker

House Republicans nominated Paul Ryan to be Speaker of the House, pretty much assuring his election, scheduled for today.  Some conservatives insist that the party’s last Vice Presidential candidate is not conservative enough, despite Ryan’s reputation as an innovative conservative policy wonk.  But most members of the Freedom Caucus–the home of hardline House conservatives who had been the bane of the previous speaker, John Boehner–voted for Ryan. [Read more…]

Speaker Boehner will resign–from Congress!

House Speaker John Boehner, who has been facing opposition and ouster attempts from many of his fellow Republican, is resigning at the end of October.  Not only from his powerful leadership position, but from Congress!

Might this help Republicans, who have a majority in both houses,  be more effective?  Or will it herald still more chaos in the party? [Read more…]

Ideological sorting

In the course of a column on a recent Medicare bill, Michael Gerson observes that in the not-too-distant-past there were liberal Republicans (in the northeast) and conservative Democrats (in the past).  Back then, lawmakers could form coalitions with kindred spirits across the aisle to pass legislation.  But now both parties have undergone “ideological sorting,” so that Democrats are virtually all liberal and Republicans are virtually all conservative.  Thus, votes are along party lines, and the only hope of advancing an agenda is to win a big enough majority to steamroll the other party.  This is why, he says, our politics is so polarizing and it is so difficult to get legislation passed.

Read what Mr. Gerson says after the jump and consider the questions I raise. [Read more…]