News Section: Local Government
This Week in Politics
Columnist Dennis Maley runs down the week's big local, state and national political stories in this new, exclusive TBT feature. This week, what did House Speaker John Boehner mean when he told the re-elected president, "We're ready to be led"? Apparently that the House was staying on their exact sticking points on the budget -- the ones that clogged things up the last time negotiations fell apart. But if the president decided he wanted to concede to their positions, that would be okay too. Outgoing Congressman Allen West gets an invitation to head north and County Commissioner Donna Hayes causes an Election Day dustup in Volusia County.
Republicans didn't fare very well in this year's elections, yet they don't seem humbled by the results. John Boehner hasn't cried ... yet, but he has jumped back and forth on his position regarding the up and coming budget discussions in a fit of flip flopping so impressive it might make you say Mitt who?
After releasing some bombastic tweets election night, Boehner dialed back his bravado on Wednesday, telling the president the House was ready to be led, while suggesting that tax increases were on the table. That should be a no-brainer. The president won reelection and campaigned on nothing as adamantly and consistently as raising taxes on Americans making over $250,000 a year. Exit polling confirmed that Americans overwhelmingly supported such a policy.
At a news conference this Wednesday to announce new House leadership positions, however, Boehner and company did an about-face, apparently getting the memo from Grover Norquist that such ideological blasphemy wasn't on the script. Boehner and cohort Eric Cantor scoffed at tax increases, suddenly posturing their own air of victory. The President may have won a mandate, but so have we was the new party line. They then proceeded to repeat the same job creator rhetoric that we've heard for the last two years, explaining over and over that they were not going to hurt the economy by raising taxes on anyone and were only open to closing tax loopholes to that would “give the president the revenues he's looking for.”
In other words, we're ready to be led, meant we're sticking to the plan of the guy you just beat for reelection, because hey, we got reelected too. Someone needs to point out what a laughable false comparison that is. The President won reelection by winning both the electoral college and the popular vote. He has a job approval rating over 50 percent. Republicans in the House actually got less votes than Democrats. The primary reason they maintain their majority is the overt gerrymandering of Congressional districts in states controlled by Republican state legislatures, which is well-documented. Congress' approval rating is hovering around single digits. If there is an institution in the world without a mandate, it's Congress. Truth is, Americans would likely throw them all out. Congress has just stacked the deck to make it very hard to throw out even a few.
To assert that they were deliberately sent back to continue their obstructionist policies is laughable, yet that's exactly what they're trying to do. Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskan (R-IL) suggested Friday that the president "take a victory lap on the new renvenues and let Repubicans take a victory lap on keeping rates low." Roskan explained that Speaker Boehner said they were ready to be led and then laid out a good pathway for the president to lead them down. Does he even understand how ridiculous that sounds? In the follow up question, it was suggested that the president's victory, his campaign promises and exit polling all gave him a mandate to which Roskan replied, "If the president had a mandate, Nancy Pelosi would be getting the gavel." In other words, sort of, except Grover said we can't acknowledge that.
So, the plan is clearly to keep obstructing until they're voted out of their gerrymandered districts. They should be careful. As Allen West found out, even gerrymandered districts with far more Republicans in them don't mean you can't be so out of step with the American people that they'll turn out enough people even to vote for someone nobody had ever heard of. Speaking of West, the Georgia RNC chair said she'd welcome him back to the peach state (West is from Atlanta). I like to vacation in Savannah too much to wish that on Georgians, but I wouldn't be sorry to see West say sayonara. The darling of the Tea Party turned out to be little more than a World Wrestling Federation cartoon spouting the same rhetoric you can hear from Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Sarah Palin any day of the week, only while wearing military medals on the lapels of his suits because apparently that's the only way gaudier than a flag pin to show you love America.
It looks like outgoing Manatee County Commissioner Donna Hayes still has the political fire in her belly. On Election Day, Hayes raised a ruckus in Volusia County, where Deputies were called after the feisty politician allegedly became aggressive with poll workers, while campaigning for her son, Rich Gailey, who was running for their county board. Hayes was accused of campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place, dropping unwanted election material into the open windows of passing vehicles and even grabbing a poll worker's badge, saying "What is this? This means nothing," when the woman asked her to stop. No charges were filed and Gailey lost by 20 points despite Hayes' efforts.
Hayes is no stranger to controversy or to sporting an air of superiority. She dropped out of her reelection bid this year after being cited for fleeing the scene of an accident when she rear ended someone in her Cadillac XLR, but couldn't stick around because she was running late for a hair appointment.
Hayes said her goodbyes at this week's meeting, but not before blessing this column with one more jewel. When the board was discussing signing over Manatee Health Network contracts to Manatee Glens, they got on the subject of AETNA and how the change to their network has resulted in many people having to switch doctors who refuse to accept their plans. "That's Obamacare," Hayes was quick to chime in, clearly misunderstanding the entire line of discussion.
To her credit, Commissioner Carol Whitmore attempted to explain that it had nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act and that providers have become increasingly reluctant to deal with the insurer, who's been criticized for making it so difficult to collect payment on claims as not to be cost-effective to their practice – all of which began long before the ACA was passed. Of course Hayes was having none of it, but that's what makes her Donna Hayes. She will be missed.