Weak willed Republicans just never learn do they?
Weak willed Republicans just never learn do they?
House Speaker John Boehner indicated on Sunday that if Attorney General Eric Holder doesn’t proceed with the contempt charge against former IRS official Lois Lerner, that will be the end of it.
“The contempt charge has gone to the attorney general. And it’s up to the attorney general, Eric Holder, to prosecute this. And to assign someone to prosecute the case. Now will they do it? We don’t know. But the ball is in his court,” Boehner told Fox News’s Maria Bartiromo.
Asked if he would consider issuing an arrest warrant for Lerner, Boehner said although the Constitution allows it, he won’t do it.
“And so that’s a — I’m not quite sure that we want to get on that path,” he said.
“So you’re not looking to do that?” Bartiromo asked him.
“No. It’s never been used,” Boehner said. “I’m not the historian here. But it has never been used. And I’m not sure that it’s an appropriate way to go about this. It’s up to Eric Holder to do his job.”
“Do you think he will?” Bartiromo asked.
“I don’t know,” Boehner said – leaving it at that.
(Press reports noted that Congress did arrest someone cited for contempt, once, in 1935.)
The House of Representatives voted 231-187 last week to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about her role in the targeting of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status before the 2012 election.
Lerner invoked her 5th Amendment rights after reading an opening statement in which she declared she’d done nothing wrong. Republicans said the fact that she gave a statement made her fair game for questioning.
The House also passed a resolution last week asking Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS tax-exempt office.
Holder himself was held in contempt of Congress in June 2012 for failing to produce documents subpoenaed by Congress in connection with the Fast and Furious gun-running investigation.
After conducting a search and straw poll, a national tea party group has settled on a Republican primary challenger to House Speaker John A. Boehner, picking high school teacher J.D. WintereggJ.D. Winteregg to carry the tea party banner in the intraparty battle.
The announcement, which the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) will make Wednesday, could help Mr. Winteregg gain attention in a field dominated by Mr. Boehner and his massive campaign bank account. Mr. Winteregg is one of several men running against Mr. Boehner in the GOP primary in the speaker’s western Ohio district.
Rusty Humphries with the TPLF, a political action committee, said Mr. Boehner has failed to follow through on conservative goals during his time as speaker.
“This is a guy that has allowed spending to increase. This is a guy that fought for benefits for congressmen while at the same time fighting to cut benefits for our veterans,” Mr. Humphries said.
Mr. Boehner has been under fire from tea party groups over last year’s budget deal, which boosted spending in 2014 and 2015, and for this month’s debt vote, when he allowed a 13-month debt increase to pass without conditions on the strength of Democratic votes.
Mr. Humphries said voters in the district itself are ready to dump Mr. Boehner, who is serving his 12th term in Congress – and second as speaker.
“The one thing I found a lot when I was in the district is how few people have seen him in the district in a long time,” Mr. Humphries said. “This is a guy who has not kept up with his people.”
But a campaign aide for Mr. Boehner said he’s still well-connected to Ohio’s 8th congressional district.
“John and his wife Debbie still live in Butler County and call it home. They made that choice – and stuck with it, even when he became speaker – because it was important to them to remain part of the community that has always been central to his service in the House,” the aide said.
As for the policy fights, the speaker had said he wouldn’t allow another government shutdown or default on federal obligations – either of which could have resulted from the failure to pass a budget or a debt increase. Mr. Boehner has argued that the 2014 election will be fought over President Obama’s agenda, including his health care law.
Mr. Humphries said the Tea Party Leadership Fund will post billboards and run radio commercials aiding Mr. Winteregg, and said the more money people donate to the leadership fund, the more will be targeted to ousting Mr. Boehner.
Unseating top party leaders is rare.
Mr. Humphries has been signed to write a column for The Washington Times, which has not yet debuted.
Two years ago Mr. Boehner easily saw off another tea party challenger, defeating pro-life activist David Lewis with 84 percent to Mr. Lewis’s 16 percent.
The No. 2 Republican in the House, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is also facing a primary challenge. Dave Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, is challenging the Virginia Republican, arguing his support for passing an immigration bill is kowtowing to big-business interests.
Mr. Winteregg’s positions on the issues:
The premise that seems to align people from all sides in America is a disdain for our representatives in Congress. This is our common ground. Instead of fighting each other–to the delight of those in power – we need to come together for one objective to replace those in power. Fortunately, the Constitution provides us with a way – through an amendment process–that allows us to enact real change in D.C. I’ve come up with a plan that, when implemented within our Constitutional framework, will change how Congress functions. It’s easy to understand, easy to articulate, and easy to support. These four elements will be my focus while in Congress.
Community- All representatives must live among their constituents. The number of days they spend in Washington, D.C. will be capped. With the technology that exists, and with the need to diminish the lobbyist influence, this mandate will ensure that the representatives do what they’re meant to do – represent the people.
Authenticity- Immediately prior to entering Congress, representatives must have held a non-political, non-lobbying position for a period of 4 years. This will break up the political ladder climbing and ensure that our representatives understand what working in the “real world” is like under the current rules and regulations.
Service- The opportunity to represent a district should be viewed as an honor and framed in a way that reflects that. As such, this amazing service opportunity will be capped at 12 years. No representative or Senator may spend more than 12 years representing a district or state in D.C.
Transparency- No former representative or Senator walks out of D.C. as a member of the middle-class. As members of Congress, they – and their spouses – will be required to publicly and prominently display where all of their earnings are derived. No ranges – specific amounts. This instills another measure of accountability on those in D.C.
Reforming Congress must happen first. Only then will representatives be able to effectively–and fairly – fight for the issues that are important to their respective constituents.
In addition to these ideas of reform, I am proud to say that I am a Christian conservative Republican who believes that relying on the Constitution will help to push our exceptional country back in the right direction.
Premise of governance
I believe that words have meaning, so by extension, the Constitution means today what it meant when it was written. The Preamble to this great document makes clear that the Constitution was written, among other reasons, to secure the blessings of liberty. An activist federal government undermines this key founding principle, so I will work to restore our process of governance to what the founders originally intended with the Constitution as my guide.
We need to secure our borders and enforce the laws that we have on the books. I am 100% opposed to amnesty.
I believe in the free market Capitalist system, and the only way for that to thrive is for the government to have a minimalist approach in intervening.
Without life, there is no liberty. I am pro-life, no exceptions.
I believe in our second amendment right to keep and bear arms. This right should be vigorously defended from attempts by the federal government to undermine it.
We need to reduce the government involvement with respect to our healthcare. Allowing the free market to run its course will help to make healthcare more affordable to all. I am in support of the movement to entirely defund Obamacare.
As a public school teacher, I understand the importance of this issue. As someone who feels the effects of federal mandates, and as someone who has witnessed the toll it has taken on my colleagues and students, I believe that education is best left to the local level. Parents and communities know what is best for their own children, and these decisions need to be left to them.
Representatives need to understand that the government is not the primary source of economic growth. The private sector is more efficient and productive than any government effort. Representatives should work with constituents to achieve private solutions to public problems, and they should avoid at all costs taxing the citizens. Federal spending should be done within the parameters of a balanced budget. Government fraud, waste, and abuse should be addressed before any taxes are raised on the American people.
The House passed a “clean” debt ceiling increase Tuesday granting President Obama power to borrow as much as the government needs for the next 13 months, after House Republican leaders surrendered on their long-standing demand that debt hikes be matched with spending cuts.
Unable to muster his own troops, Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republicans, had to turn to Democrats to provide the necessary votes. The bill, which cleared on a 221-201 vote, now goes to the Senate.
SEE ALSO: HURT: Obama reveals his obliviousness at Monticello
The legislation must be approved by the end of the month, when the Treasury Department says it will run out of borrowing room.
Even as he advanced the bill and voted for it, Mr. Boehner washed his hands of the blame.
“It’s the president driving up the debt and the president wanting to do nothing about the debt that’s occurring,” the speaker said. “So let his party give him the debt-ceiling increase that he wants.”
Democrats hailed the vote as a victory and heaped praise on Mr. Boehner, who they said he put the country ahead of the tea party wing of the GOP by holding the vote.
Just 28 Republicans joined 193 Democrats in voting for the increase. Two Democrats and 199 Republicans voted against it.
“Once again, the Republican Party and their caucus has shown they’re not responsible enough to be ruling and governing here,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley, New York Democrat.
SEE ALSO: Conservative group calls for Boehner’s head
Business groups, worried about the effects of bumping up against the limit, urged Congress to act.
But conservative and tea party groups warned of dire political consequences for Republicans who voted for the increase.
For the past century, Congress has imposed a borrowing limit on the federal government. As the government has run up record deficits under President George W. Bush and Mr. Obama, lawmakers have repeatedly raised the limit – though it’s often been a major battle.
As of Monday, the gross debt stood at $17.259 trillion. It was $10.629 trillion when Mr. Obama was inaugurated in 2009.
Under the new debt policy, the government’s borrowing limit would be suspended until March 15, 2015, meaning whatever debts are incurred until then would be tacked onto the legal limit.
It’s impossible to predict how much debt would accumulate, but the government has added more than $800 billion in gross debt in the past 13 months.
For Republicans, the vote was a major retreat. When he became speaker in 2011, Mr. Boehner vowed to use debt increases as leverage to extract spending cuts. He set a goal of matching debt increases “dollar for dollar” with cuts.
In 2011, during the first debt fight of his tenure, he won a deal that has cut overall spending for two consecutive years – the first time that has been achieved since 1950.
Since that peak, though, Republicans have struggled to win concessions on three successive debt votes and has reversed its push against spending. Indeed, December’s budget deal offset some of the cuts Republicans won in the 2011 budget agreement.
On Tuesday, Republicans said they were left with little choice.
With so many Republicans opposed to any debt increase, leaders were unable to come up with the votes to pass a plan that would halt parts of Obamacare or build the Keystone XL pipeline in exchange for a debt increase.
Most of the 28 Republicans who voted in favor of the clean debt increase were leaders, chairmen of committees or members of the Appropriations Committee.
Rep. Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who voted against the debt increase, said Mr. Boehner had no options, but he added that the result of agreeing to a third straight increase with no major cuts attached is that Republicans lose leverage in any future debt negotiations.
“I understood the previous times, but I think we’re slipping into a bad habit,” he said. “I’m not here condemning people for what they did – they’ve done it to try and deal with the immediate situation, but I think long term, we need to rethink how we do it and a lot of Democrats would like to get rid of the whole debt ceiling idea altogether. I think that’s a mistake, personally.”
Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats remained united throughout the battle for a clean debt increase. That left Mr. Boehner with no negotiating partner and no offer of his own.
“We don’t have 218 votes. And when you don’t have 218 votes, you have nothing,” the speaker told reporters ahead of the vote, explaining his lack of leverage.
Just a single Republican – Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan — spoke during the floor debate.
Most Republican lawmakers seemed eager to move on and saw the vote as a way to “clear the decks” of a thorny political problem and resume attacks on Obamacare and Mr. Obama’s other policies.
Democratic leaders were eager to debate the bill. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said it proved that Democrats were the ones interested in upholding the Constitution’s directive that the validity of the debt never be questioned.
“The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not in doubt,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
In an abrupt switch from his months of work to bring immigration reform back from life support, Speaker John Boehner told reporters today that the issue cannot move forward until President Obama proves he can be a trustworthy partner to implement the law as written.
“There’s widespread doubt about whether this administration can be trusted to enforce our laws. And it’s going to be difficult to move any immigration legislation until that changes,” Boehner said.
The change in tack comes after rank-and-file members pushed hard against action on the issue this year when immigration “principles” were unveiled at a retreat last week and top immigration hawks had begun to discuss how they could thwart Boehner in his march to bring the issue to the floor.
In the hours before Boehner made his surprise announcement, lawmakers and aides had told Breitbart News that early discussions had begun about whether to force a special leadership election in the event Boehner moved forward with immigration legislation.
“It’s going to require blood if this happens,” one GOP member said.
At the press conference where he made his surprise announcement, Boehner said Obama has exacerbated the distrust on the issue with his recent vows to act with or without Congress.
“The American people, including many of my members, do not believe that the reform that we’re talking about will be implemented as it was intended to be. The President seems to change the health care law on a whim, whenever he likes. Now he’s running around the country telling everyone that he’s going to keep acting on his own. He keeps talking about his phone and his pen. And he’s feeding more distrust about whether he’s committed to the rule of law,” Boehner said.
The Ohio Republican didn’t fully close the door, saying Obama could work with Republicans to help enact some of their priority bills to rebuild trust and that he would continue to discuss the matter with his conference.
“I’m going to continue to talk to my members about how to move forward, but the president is going to have to do his part as well,” Boehner said.
And anti-amnesty activists were not letting down their guard. “Unfortunately since we know that since the Republican leadership wants to push amnesty… we can’t trust these declarations,” said Rosemary Jenks, the director of government relations for NumbersUSA.
Prior to putting the brakes on immigration reform, Boehner had become increasingly isolated in his strong push for action.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday that it’s unlikely any legislation could be enacted this year, a major blow, and GOP and conservative pundits had repeatedly questioned whether moving forward made any political sense.
GOP lawmakers, meanwhile, loudly complained that Obama was not a trustworthy partner when Boehner unveiled his immigration “principles” at a retreat in Cambridge, Maryland last week.
In the days after the retreat, Boehner continued to move forward, issuing promotional materials about the principles. Rep. Jeff Denham of California, a top proponent for moving on immigration, told Breitbart News that leadership wanted to bring legislation to the floor as soon as possible.
With Boehner continuing to march forward, top immigration hawks had begun to organize much more dramatic responses to try to head him off.
“There has been talk among House Members about forcing new leadership elections in the House to include a new Speaker if they try to bring an immigration bill to the floor this year,” a senior GOP aide said Wednesday. The GOP member and two other aides said such discussions had occurred among House Republicans.
“I think it should cost him his speakership,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) told Roll Call about if Boehner brought immigration to the floor in 2014.
Boehner survived a mutiny in early 2013 after the fiscal cliff showdown. But it is unclear how widespread the discussions about challenging Boehner over immigration were – several lawmakers who were part of the earlier coup attempt said they hadn’t heard anything about any such effort relating to immigration.
Eric Gurr is a 48-year-old Ohioan and a lifelong Republican. He was born and raised in Hamilton, a suburb of Cincinnati. Mr. Gurr is the CEO of a computer consulting firm based in West Chester, Ohio. He is married and has three children as well as two grandchildren. He and his family reside in fast-growing Liberty Township. He has never run for political office before.
Oh, and he just happens to be challenging House Speaker John Boehner in the Republican primary for Ohio’s 8th congressional district.
Mr. Gurr was kind enough to grant yours truly an exclusive interview.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview, Mr. Gurr.
So did you go to college in Ohio? How does your family feel about your decision to run for high public office? What prompted someone who has never run for political office before to decide to challenge one of the most powerful elected officials in the country?
ERIC GURR: I went to college at The University of Cincinnati. I started out in mechanical engineering in 1983, then switched to computer related. I dropped out in ’87 and have worked with computers, programming, and related endeavors since that time.
My family has been very supportive of my decision.
What prompted me to run was the realization that since 2008 Mr. Boehner had slowly pulled away from my views and what I thought was in the best interest of the nation long-term. I was not in favor of the TARP programs and I still think our monetary policy is on the wrong track.
Syria was the tipping point. I thought that war with Syria was a terrible idea. Essentially it is a very high-risk proposition with little or nothing to be gained. I also believe strongly that the immigration bill was a bad bill at the wrong time. It makes no sense at all to add to a workforce burdened by high unemployment and underemployment.
When I started putting all of these things together I realized that Speaker Boehner has just been in Washington too long. Publicly elected servants should serve a few terms and then leave lest they become forever detached from their constituents. Over time this leads to a moderation not only in positions and policy, but in passion for the fight. Inside that beltway, conservative values (both economically and socially) are seen as “extreme.” We as the base of the GOP have no desire nor need to apologize for these conservative principles as they have served the nation quite well for over 200 years.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: What are your thoughts on the multiple scandals that have engulfed the Obama administration – IRS, NSA, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, etc.?
ERIC GURR: The IRS scandal is the biggest scandal to hit this country since Watergate. The most feared institution has been used for political purposes. I find it highly improbable that Ms. Lois Lerner acted of her own volition. I am stunned that the Democrats don’t seem to understand the gravity of this situation. This scandal needs to be investigated until we know absolutely everything.
The NSA is not permitted to spy on citizens without a proper warrant. I think that the Constitution is quite clear on this. I know there are many who say that this invasion of privacy protects us all, but where does that end?
I also believe Benghazi is a real and serious scandal. If we follow the timeline it appears that we first received word of an attack at 10:00 PM. If the State Department didn’t send help they must answer the question: why? The canned response is that the main thrust of the attack happened at 4:00 AM and the forces would not have had time to get there. But there is no way they could have known when the next attack was coming.
Fast & Furious was probably a well-intended venture that spiraled out of hand. But when our own agents are shot with these weapons I think some answers should be expected. The attorney general has some real inconsistencies in his statements to Congress and needs to be brought back on the carpet. If we cannot trust the attorney general to follow the laws, who can we trust?
ROBERT ELLIOTT: How do you feel about the recent efforts of House and (some) Senate Republicans to defund Obamacare?
ERIC GURR: I think Ted Cruz and others supporting him are on the right track. With control of only the House there are few tools left in the tool box. It will be no consolation for Republicans to say in three or four months, “We told you this would happen.”
The bill is axiomatically prevented from working for several reasons. The biggest reason being that there is no addressing of the supply side in the bill. If you want to lower cost while increasing demand for services you must first address the supply. It takes years to become a doctor. So the first portion of a serious bill like this would have been to delay for eight years while you fund an increase in the number of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers and equipment. This bill added an anti-science and anti-technology excise tax of 2.3 percent. If the GOP is somehow successful in the endeavor and at least delays implementation by a year or two the economy will rebound, job growth will ensue, and we will have a clearer picture of what needs to be done to reform existing systems. If some of the old guard in the GOP leadership continue to delay and obfuscate, we’ll never get the opportunity to explain to the American people (the few who still support the bill) how damaging it is to the long term economic viability of the nation.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: Candidates who seek to unseat incumbents are almost always at a financial disadvantage. This is especially true in your case, since you are taking on such a powerful and high-profile incumbent in the Speaker of the House. How much cash do you think your campaign will need to raise in order to mount a credible challenge? And how do you plan to raise it? Have you considered a “money-bomb” type of event?
ERIC GURR: Money is the challenge. I’ve been contacted by people all over the country suggesting a “money bomb” type of event. I have tried to contact a few of the conservative outlets, but have been told I must be “vetted” first. Over the past two weeks I’ve tried to respond to as many online requests as I can and that’s starting to produce. The website gurrforcongress.com is averaging over 300 visits per day. I’ve tried to analyze the situation in the 8th congressional district of Ohio and the good news is that millions of dollars probably won’t be needed. Speaker Boehner can only bombard the voters with so much information. I’ve figured I’ll need about $300,000 to make a serious challenge. Although it sounds like a lot, the reality is if I can get a few thousand people to donate $25 – $50 I’ll be in a strong position. In order to become competitive with his fundraising machine I’ll have to look outside the district. With a solid drive and $100,000 or so I think I can pull that off.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: How do you feel about term limits? If elected, would you pledge to serve only a certain number of terms?
ERIC GURR: I’m in favor of term limits but much more in favor of politicians keeping their word. I would not serve more than four terms and prefer to serve three, then be challenged in a primary to get the word out about new candidates. If you lose, you lose. If not, the next year there are a few candidates the public has come to know who can run for the seat and I would drop out. There is absolutely no chance I would serve more than four [terms]. A citizen legislator must be a citizen first. If you stay in Washington for 15 or 20 years, you have become a professional politician.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: How would you work to tackle the federal budget deficit? Assuming you plan to support spending reductions, are there any areas that you think should be off-limits to cuts?
ERIC GURR: The deficit should be cut in two phases. In the first phase I would propose to Congress cutting 3% across the board with an exemption for Social Security and Medicare. Then I would push hard for a significant cut in the capital gains tax. This tax cut has historically increased revenue. I would also delve deeper into cuts for the EPA, agricultural subsidies, and even the Department of Education. All of these agencies have poor track records recently and have seen their budgets bloated beyond any reasonable level of growth.
Defense spending is worth a look, but I don’t know that I would commit to any cuts at this point. It’s not that I think there isn’t room, it’s just that I know when you have a certain level of access to information you may be inclined to change your views. I am in favor of missile defense but not in favor of a large standing army with bases spread across the world.
The American people have felt the pinch for five years and I think it is time for Washington, D.C. to share in a little of the belt tightening.
ROBERT ELLIOTT: Would your campaign like to communicate a direct message to potential donors and/or Republican primary voters in your district?
Frank Milillo, Eric Gurr’s campaign manager:
As many of you may have heard, Hamilton native Eric Gurr is challenging John Boehner in the May primary for the Ohio 8th district U.S. congressional seat. Many of us have supported Mr. Boehner over the past 20-plus years, but I think many of you now agree it’s time for a change. Eric is a principled conservative and wants to cut spending, lower taxes to promote jobs and economic growth, and put an end to the ill-conceived Obamacare.
It is difficult to defeat a politician as entrenched in Washington culture as Mr. Boehner has become. He has nationwide donations and deep pockets. But we believe the people of Ohio deserve better, and with your donation of as little as $25 we can get the word out and make a hopeful and helpful change for the people of Ohio and the United States of America.
To donate, please visit the campaign website at gurrforcongress.com
Orr if you prefer, you can send a check to:
Gurr For Congress
7182 Liberty Centre Drive, Suite O
West Chester, Ohio 45069
Nancy Pelosi isn’t going anywhere.
While many thought the California Democrat would step down as House minority leader after this Congress, Pelosi confidants now believe she will remain atop House leadership through 2016 and maybe even longer.
Pelosi herself won’t tip her hand about her plans. But she doesn’t appear to be contemplating retirement.
“I’m not here on a shift. I’m here on a mission — and when my work is done, that’s when I will leave,” Pelosi said in a recent interview with POLITICO.
A mission she says. Hmmm, seems that mission is to pad her riches, and destroy what is left of our Constitution.