John Boehner and the GOP’s Alternate Reality

There has been no lack of punditry–much of it inane–in the wake of John Boehner’s resignation. But I encountered one of the more thought-provoking analyses at the progressive website Daily Kos. After detailing the gleeful reactions emanating from the more reactionary precincts of what used to be a political party (and is now some sort of cult), and accusations from people like Mike Huckabee to the effect that Boehner had “given the President more power on Obamacare,” the poster ruminated:

After total legislative obstruction, a government shut-down, more than 50 votes to repeal Obamacare, an ensuing presidential election, two Supreme Court lawsuits, and other pending litigation – – Republicans are livid with the belief that John Boehner has worked with the President to strengthen Obamacare.

No sane political observer could think that.  So, what gives?  As Jonathan Chait explains, we are witnessing a sort of collective Republican denial where they cannot accept that they are not the ruling party, not the “deciders” (to use a former president’s phrase):

To understand the pressures that brought about Boehner’s demise as an ideological split badly misconstrues the situation. The small band of right-wing noisemakers in the House who made Boehner’s existence a living hell could not identify any important substantive disagreements with the object of their wrath. . . . The source of the disagreement was tactical, not philosophical. Boehner’s tormentors refused to accept the limits of his political power. . . .

The “crazy caucus” continues to occupy an alternate reality. It exists merely to throw sand in the gears of government, refusing to accept anything less than everything it wants–and increasingly unable even to articulate what “everything it wants” is. (Anyone who has ever parented a cranky two-year-old can recognize the behavior…)

That said, the real problem isn’t that a minor, albeit significant faction of a major party is arguably insane. The real problem is, voters elected them. And non-voters abetted them.

That’s what is so frightening to contemplate….


  1. I will add that, per Joe Hogsett’s Facebook post yesterday, there are only a few days left to register to vote. If you haven’t done so…PLEASE do it today. You can register on line; don’t have to get off your butt till November 3rd to actually vote…and not then if you qualify for absentee ballots. Indiana has had Bureau of Motor Vehicles problems the past few years; get your photo ID if you don’t have it (and stop bitching about it), do this before Indiana follows Alabama’s lead and closes BMV offices in minority areas. Produce any form of ID required/requested at the polls and vote. Stop pouting and behaving like the two-year-olds Sheila referred to.

    Boehner is gone…he WAS at the top of the mountain and a primary cause of you-know-what that has been rolling downhill on us in recent years instead of that wonderful promised trickle-down economic improvement. Government is built from the foundation up; the foundation in Indianapolis this election day will be the Mayoral election…an excellent place to start bringing Indianapolis back to saner – if not totally sane – use of our tax dollars and the resolution of some major problems. Please note I said START bringing Indianapolis back; there are no miracles in our future.

    Sanity is missing from the Republican party these days but, more important and more powerful is the loss of hope that government and this country can be improved and that we, one by one as voters, can help restore hope to bring about change.

  2. This is all so true. The crazies in the Republican Party have had for some years now an empty battle cry for their cause. “Take Our Country Back!” Whenever I have asked, “Take it back from whom? Take it back to what?” I get nothing. Because there is nothing there. The voters who have supported this nonsense haven’t got a clue as to what it is that they want. They only seem to know that they don’t like what they’ve got now. And they know this only because the right wing media told them so.

  3. With toddlers, they are the most brittle and cranky just before they go to sleep. Hopefully it’s the same with political movements.

  4. Whenever you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can be assured of Paul’s vote. The “fair share” mantra has the left complaining inspire of the fact that the top 10% earn 20% of the total earnings and pay 40% of the total income tax. I am NOT in the top ten percent but I want to take the country back from anyone who thinks that formula needs to be more lop-sided!

  5. It is my belief that after years of trying the libertarian and anti government factions could not get elected with their crazy ideas, the Kock Brothers seized that opportunity to fund the rise of the Tea Party calling themselves Republicans. Operating like a Parasite they invaded the body politic of the Republican Party and set about draining it energy and keeping it alive only enough to claim that its part of its GOP host body.
    The Tea Party is a parasitic disease about to kill the Grand Old Party if steps are not taken by them to rid themselves of the effliction. If not what you will witness is a real GOP Zombie dead buy animated by big money and Cruz crazy people set loose on the American people that will disease their minds and turn them into host hostages of hate and toil for a Tea Party run fascism government.

  6. Ken, you’ve forgotten that your figures apply only to federal income tax. When all other taxes (state, excise, property, sales, and various and sundry fees ranging from communications access fees to highway tolls), the poor and middle class pay significantly more than the wealthy – in toto, and as a percentage of income.

  7. Thank you, Ginny, people seem to forget that their are countless forms of taxes we all pay and only income tax (and tax loopholes for business) has a lower percentage for the wealthy.

  8. Ken, please list exactly where the stats you posted are coming from.

    In addition, have you forgotten about the mega-corporations that pay no income tax? And, what about the very low tax on carried interest income that the millionaires and billionaires enjoy from their Wall Street earnings? They absolutely are not paying their fair share of income taxes.

  9. “top 10% earn 20% of the total earnings and pay 40% of the total income tax”

    Ken, welcome to capitalism. I’m sure that you remember from school how capitalism works right? Reward greed. Inspire power with money.

    You report it as working exactly as advertised.

    Here’s a math problem for you. You and I split an annuity the terms of which are we start at 50% – 50% and every year your share goes up (and therefore mine goes down) by 10%. How many years before you’re getting the whole pot?

    So progressive taxation is what, as Karl Marx predicted, prevents Communism. (Actually regulation of markets contributes too.)

    Progressive taxes. Good for capitalism. Good for America. And as you have pointed out by omission you have no alternative to.

  10. As shown in Ken’s post, the Republicans depend on a simplistic, and erroneous, understanding of economics by their voters. Actually, they depend on simplistic, erroneous understanding of most issues by their voters.

  11. Pretend for a moment that you’re Donald Trump. Or a Koch or Walton. Or a Bush or Romney or Ben Carson. What problems do you face?

    Filet or lobster.

    So when such people decide that the only mountain left to climb is to ascend to royalty, despite democracy, they must create problems that don’t exist in their or anyone else’s life in order to offer pretend solutions to attract votes.

    Abortion. The tax code. Armament regulation. Public education. The defense of Israel, a country which has never lost militarily. The financial support of the obsolete fossil fuel industry. The imminent assault on the country from Muslims or Mexicans or blacks. The list goes on.

    Meanwhile, and fortunately for America, President Obama and liberals continue solving all of the real problems.

    Climate change. Our completely unaffordable health care system. Improving public education. Solving global issues diplomatically instead of militarily. Creating jobs. Defending the freedom of religion. Preventing crazies with guns from killing innocents. Creating neighborhoods safe from criminals and cops. Maintaining democracy and it’s byproduct freedom. Defending the Constitution through changing times. Stamping out ignorance in all of its forms.

    It’s our country not theirs. If we don’t take care of it nobody will, especially them.

  12. A guilty confession – I sometimes watch Fox News. When Boehner’s resignation happened the
    Fox crew brought on all their pundits to pile on about how weak Boehner was in the confrontations with Obama. The Foxies lamented the fact that Obama was so weak in the face of: Russia, Syria, ISIS, China and Iran. By the Foxies logic this meant Boehner must be very weak and lacking a spine, since he failed to stand up to Obama.

    The Foxies trotted out a number of issues they felt led to Boehner’s justifiable demise. Boehner caved in to Obamacare, immigration, not defunding Planned Parenthood, not strongly supporting Israel, a failure to stand up to the Supreme Court in face of approving Obamacare and same sex marriage.

    Boehner’s replacement is likely not going to be hard enough to the Right for some, the struggle in the GOP will continue the Hard Right vs the Corporate GOP. This will play out rather interestingly with the back drop of the GOP trying to figure out who takes the cake and wins the Republican Nomination for President. The hard right will not accept another Rombot for the presidency.

  13. But the real news is Kevin McCarthy. This guy does not have full command of the English language, and if his future public statements are anything like he has made in the past few days, we are in for some real entertainment. This is Yogi Berra without the brains. A totally appropriate “leader” for the House majority. It’s going to be like watching the three stooges.

  14. The GOP has ceased being a political party and become pure and simple a business selling influence. That’s their choice but we have choices to. I don’t see any alternative to temporarily getting along with only one party. I’m sure that in time it will splinter and will restore our two primary party system.

  15. It’s easy to move to a lower tax bracket but hard to
    move up.

    How many people do you know who chose to move down to save on taxes?

    I’ve personally have never heard of one.

  16. Pete! The IRS tracked the bottom quintile from 1979 for 17 years. Five percent were still in the bottom quintile and remarkably, 29% made it to the top quintile. I will predict that no other country in the world provided comparable upward mobility. Contrary to perceptions on this site, conservatives want to help the 5% “stuck” in the bottom quintile.

  17. Ken; here is one economic “perception” published in 2012, giving the wealthy “consideration” for expenses only their level can claim. Keep in mind that $70,000 tax deduction Mitt Romney benefited from for his wife’s dancing horse as one consideration. That bottom quintile doesn’t get consideration for health care, food, housing, clothing, education, transportation; if they can afford any or all of the above, which prevents them from moving up. I will predict that in this country, deemed to be the richest in the world, the conservatives will continue to “help” those stuck at the bottom to say at the bottom…and are adding more to those numbers in the current economy. Conservative John Boehner has led the way till now; he left deliberately at a time when vacating his Speaker position would cause the most turmoil in Congress.

    “The chart, presumably crafted by Menzi Chinn, is compiled from CBO data and is presented as a continuation of a discussion from a couple years back sparked by an infamous column by Todd Henderson complaining that rich people aren’t so rich as people think, once one deducts the perquisites of a rich person’s lifestyle such as a huge house, private schooling, and a full time nanny. It’s also somehow supposed to undermine “beliefs held in the fevered imagination of some commentators that taxes have risen enormously under the current Administration.” How it does that, given that it ends with the Bush administration, is not immediately clear to me. But then, I’m not an economist.”

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