Tag: Paul Ryan

Ryan And McConnell: #Lock’em Up

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Over at Politico, Burgess Everett has a story this morning that says Congress deserves credit for doing routine things like passing some (but not all) of the appropriations for the coming year.

I have a very different take: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) should be arrested and jailed for not even trying to comply this year with the budget laws that apply to Congress.

The chairmen of the two budget committees — Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) — should be jailed for the same reason.

And I’d have every member of Congress talk about this at the start of every speech they give in their state or district and every candidate raise it prominently at their campaign rallies so their audiences can rhythmically chant “Lock’em up.”

The congressional budget process is not supposed to be optional. It’s a law created by the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 that Congress is required to implement every year.

This is Conspiracy to Commit Budget Noncompliance in the First Degree

(Before you think this was an initiative enacted by Democrats in 1974 to embarrass the GOP in 2018, keep in mind that the budget act passed more than four decades ago with a level of bipartisanship that today is both unimaginable and quaint. It was approved unanimously in the Senate, with just six no votes in the House and signed into law by a Republican president.)

But led by Ryan, McConnell, Enzi and Womack, the GOP-controlled Congress this year isn’t complying with the budget act. To the contrary, the Republican congressional leadership intentionally decided not to do the most important thing the law requires — adopting a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year.

The budget resolution is the only part of the annual budget-spending-tax process that Congress is legally required to do. Appropriations and tax legislation is completely discretionary.

Ryan and friends decided to break the law and not do a budget resolution for totally political reasons. The revenue and spending policies the GOP has put in place since the last budget was adopted have ballooned the budget deficit and national debt. Not doing a fiscal 2019 budget resolution meant that House and Senate Republicans avoid having to vote in favor of those deficits before the election and stops them from handing a very-tough-to-explain issue to their Democratic opponents.

The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act was adopted to prevent this exact thing from happening. Until it was put in place, representatives and senators voted for the tax cuts and spending increases that spiked the deficit and debt but were never required to vote on a single bill that showed the impact of those votes.

An annual budget resolution was supposed to be the answer to this problem. For the first time in American history, members of Congress were legally required to go on record on the deficit and debt so their constituents would know where they stood and could vote accordingly.

Compounding the crime of no budget resolution is the fact that this was an intentional decision by Ryan, McConnell, Enzi and Womack rather than, as has happened in the past, an inadvertent byproduct of the House and Senate or Republicans and Democrats not being able to come to an agreement.

That makes this a far more serious — Conspiracy to Commit Budget Noncompliance in the First Degree — and its leaders should be locked up immediately.

 

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

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When Will Trump Realize He’s Being Played By Ryan And McConnell On The Shutdown And His Wall?

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) supposedly have convinced President Donald Trump that he shouldn’t consider shutting down the federal government over funding for the wall he wants to build between the United States and Mexico until the coming lame duck session of Congress, that is, until after the mid-term elections.

This makes a great deal of sense from Ryan’s and McConnell’s perspective given that the continued GOP control of the House and Senate seems to be in increasing jeopardy. One of the last things they want a month before November is a Trump-caused government shutdown that the congressional Republicans running for reelection have to explain and defend.

But there are several reasons it doesn’t make much sense for Trump.

First, Ryan and McConnell have repeatedly promised Trump that they would get him the funding for his wall at some later date…and have never delivered on that promise.

Second, Ryan is a lame duck speaker who will have far less incentive after the election to do anything Trump wants on the wall.

When will Trump realize that the timing Ryan and McConnell are suggesting for a possible government shutdown is much better for them than it is for him?

Third, defeated and retiring members of Congress generally are not as cooperative or politically reliable after the election as they were before and, if the polls are correct, there will lots of defeated Republicans this November joining the already large number of those who are retiring.

Finally, and most important, the legislative battle over keeping the government open before the election rather than after is very likely to be Trump’s last chance to get funding for his wall given the leverage he’ll have over Republicans at that time.

In addition, if the Democrats do gain the majority in one or both houses of Congress (or even just pick up substantial number of seats), they will immediately claim a mandate to be a check on Trump and will be far less willing to compromise.

At the same time, congressional Republicans will look at the election results and not feel as obligated to follow Trump blindly as thy do now.

The question is if…or when…Trump will realize that the timing Ryan and McConnell are suggesting for a possible government shutdown is much better for them than it is for him.

And that they’re playing him like a fiddle.

House Republicans Are In Almost Total Disarray As Summer Recess Begins

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Consider all of the following now that the House of Representatives has left Washington until after Labor Day.

Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a lame duck speaker who no longer seems to care about supporting Donald Trump or Trump’s legislative agenda.

Ryan has no heir-apparent who, as Ryan increasingly checks out, has the authority to take over what was an already very unruly House Republican caucus.

There are three candidates to replace Ryan who are openly campaigning for the job and dividing the GOP caucus. This competition will likely get worse when the House reconvenes.

One of the three speaker candidates is Jim Jordan (R-OH), the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. But the HFC, which had been so influential in determining the House legislative agenda this decade, now seems to be on its last legs. And Jordan has been accused by dozens of people of knowing about but not reporting sexual abuse when he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University.

This is almost a textbook definition of political and legislative chaos.

That means Jordan may not be in the best position to become speaker (or minority leader  if there’s a Democratic majority) in the next Congress but, if he can hold the HFC together, he may be able to determine who does.

More House Republicans are not running for reelection for one reason or another than in any other recent election. Retiring members or those defeated in their primaries tend not to be as responsive to their constituents, their party or the White House toward the end of their terms. They also can’t be counted on to vote as reliably as might have been the case before.

The most recent generic polls show Democrats with a big lead over Republicans on who should control the House in the next Congress. The biggest reason for the Democratic lead is a strong desire for there to be a check on Donald Trump, and he isn’t going away anytime soon.

The House only has 11 legislative days left before the start of fiscal 2019 but doesn’t seems to have any agreed-upon plan on how to avoid a government shutdown on October 1 except to hope that Trump doesn’t veto the continuing resolution that will be needed to prevent it.

While the shutdown clock continues to run, House Republicans seem to be content to do things that are totally symbolic and remarkably unimpressive.

The most purely symbolic gesture last week was the weak version of a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Ryan completely shot down less than 24 hours after it was introduced by Jordan and current House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC). The resolution never had a chance in the House and the GOP controlled Senate had no interest in it. It was never going to happen.

When the House reconvenes, the GOP plans to devote a significant amount of the limited time it has left before fiscal 2019 begins to three tax cut bills that have no chance of being enacted any time soon because…wait for it…the Republican-controlled Senate has already said it’s not interested.

And none of this even begins to anticipate what the House Republicans who are running for reelection and think they will need to energize the Trump base will do in September as the Manafort trial and Cohen investigations continue and as the Mueller probe moves forward.

In other words, this year’s legislative crunch time is about to get very real but House Republicans have little leadership, no plan, a very divided caucus, are very likely to be distracted and are relying on a notoriously unreliable Donald Trump to do the right thing.

This is almost a textbook definition of political and legislative chaos.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s so much more here:
Today Marks The Demise Of The House Freedom Caucus
This Is Why Trump Will Shut Down The Government
Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All
Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall
You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay

 

 

Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%

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I added a government shutdown countdown clock to the homepage of thebudgetguy.blog this week because the threat of a government shutdown this October 1 is real, growing and needs to be taken very seriously.

I know…there’s a countdown clock for everything these days. News and sports networks are using them so often for routine events that they’ve become a cliché and those that use them have become the butt of jokes.

But in this case it’s fully justified. The deadline for Congress and President Donald Trump to come to an agreement that will avoid a government shutdown this fall — which may be a much more frequent threat and occurrence these days than it used to be but would still be anything but routine – is approaching quickly and neither the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have done anything to make it less likely.

…the chances of a shutdown happening this year are greater now than they were even a few week ago.

Because of that, because the time left to prevent it from happening is steadily dwindling and because the other must-do tasks Congress has left are still multiplying, the chances of a shutdown happening this year are greater now than they were even a few week ago.

For these reasons I’m raising my previous estimate of a government shutdown occurring this fall from 50 to 60 percent.

There are five reasons a shutdown is now more likely.

1. The shutdown countdown clock shows that, as of today, there are only 69 days left before the federal government turns into a pumpkin on October 1. But the countdown clock shows calendar days, which includes weekends. When you subtract those, congressional recesses, religious and national holidays and days when Congress is in session but no votes are scheduled, the number of legislative days when the House and Senate are both working is probably less than half that number.

2. There’s been no movement at all over the $25 billion Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The president has already threatened multiple times to veto a continuing resolution — the funding bill needed to keep the government from shutting — if it doesn’t include these funds and the votes don’t currently seem to exist in either the House or Senate to provide them.

3. Vetoing the CR and shutting the government over funding for the wall will be Trump’s best way to enrage his base further on the immigration issue before the election. Ryan and McConnell may also see a wall/immigration-motivated shutdown as the best way to increase Republican voter turnout and protect GOP incumbents.

4. The House and Senate are now both planning to spend much of September debating things other than legislation that would keep the government from shutting. As I posted several days ago, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has let it be known that the House will debate three tax cut bills even though they have no chance of being enacted. Meanwhile, the Senate is very likely to be tied up for days that month trying to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

5. Unless he starts a war, a government shutdown may be Trump’s best/only opportunity this fall to divert media attention away from (1) the Mueller investigation, (2) the Michael Cohen trial, (3) Paul Manafort, (4) Stormy Daniels, (5) Karen McDougal, (6) Vladimir Putin and who knows what else.

I’ll be updating this analysis weekly.