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Robert Reich
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Saturday 29 December 2012
The combination of a weakened national party and more intense competition in primaries is making the Republican Party relatively impervious to national opinion.

Cliff Hanger: Why Republicans Don’t Care What the Nation Thinks

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Are House Republicans—now summoned back to Washington by Speaker John Boehner—about to succumb to public pressure and save the nation from the fiscal cliff?

Don’t bet on it.

Even if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cooperates by not mounting a filibuster and allows the Senate to pass a bill extending the Bush tax cuts to the first $250,000 of everyone’s income, Boehner may not bring it to the House floor.

On a Thursday conference call with House Republicans he assured conservatives he was “not interested” in allowing such a vote if most House Republicans would reject the bill, according to a source on the call.

Democrats are confident that even if the nation technically goes over the cliff January 1, Boehner will bring such a bill to the floor soon after January 3—once House Republicans have re-elected him Speaker—and it will get passed.

But this assumes Boehner and the GOP will be any more swayed by public opinion than they are now.

Public opinion is already running strongly in favor of President Obama and the Democrats, and against the GOP. In the latest CNN/ORC poll, 48 percent say they’ll blame Republicans if no deal is reached while 37 percent blame Obama. Confidence in congressional Republicans is hovering at about 30 percent; Obama is enjoying the confidence of 46 percent. And over half of all Americans think the GOP is too extreme.

Yet Republicans haven’t budged. The fact is, they may not care a hoot about the opinions of most Americans.

That’s because the national party is in disarray. Boehner isn’t worried about a challenge to his leadership; no challenger has emerged. The real issue is neither he nor anyone else is in charge of the GOP. Romney’s loss, along with the erosion of their majority in the House and Democratic gains in the Senate, has left a vacuum at the top.

House Republicans don’t run nationally. They run only in their own districts—which, because of gerrymandering, are growing even more purely Republican. Their major concern is being re-elected in 2014, and their biggest potential obstacle in their way is a primary challenge from the right.

The combination of a weakened national party and more intense competition in primaries is making the Republican Party relatively impervious to national opinion.

This poses a large strategic problem for the Democrats. It could be an even bigger problem for the nation.

This article was originally posted on Robert Reich's blog.



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ABOUT Robert Reich

 

ROBERT B. REICH, one of the nation’s leading experts on work and the economy, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. Time Magazine has named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the last century. He has written thirteen books, including his latest best-seller, “Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future;” “The Work of Nations,” which has been translated into 22 languages; and his newest, an e-book, “Beyond Outrage.” His syndicated columns, television appearances, and public radio commentaries reach millions of people each week. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, and Chairman of the citizen’s group Common Cause. His widely-read blog can be found at www.robertreich.org. Robert Reich's new film, "Inequality for All" is available on DVD
and blu-ray, and on Netflix in February.

"On a Thursday conference

"On a Thursday conference call with House Republicans he assured conservatives he was “not interested” in allowing such a vote if most House Republicans would reject the bill, according to a source on the call."

So, it's OK to simply ignore the Democrats? I thought it was a majority vote in the House, not a majority vote of a (diminished) majority party. But -- wait -- a single member of the minority party (Republican) in the Senate can block -- for 4 years -- the appointment of the director of ATF -- or anything else the majority wants done. What the hell is going on?

As is so customary for

As is so customary for Professor Reich, on cue he inevitably forgets that that, there is also a Democratic Party and that they bear responsibility in
equal measure. The Democratic Party does not want to take on AIPAC,
the Medical lobbies, the defense lobbies (see John Tirman's THE SPOILS
OF WAR...), the lobbies of the financial sector. As has often been said:
"The game is the game."

jackwenayscott's picture

Reich seems to realize with

Reich seems to realize with one part of his mind that it is the populace that elects these people, based on the average citizen's awarenesses and bias. Good! Then, the next thing we hear is that it is a "corporatochracy" where big corporate money controls the politicians, now which is it? Logically, it is not both, either Boehner responds to the people who elected him, OR, he responds to the wishes of a corporation, not both! Meanwhile, the NRA is blamed for hoisting around the nation on gun issues, poppycock! Obvously, Nation of Chanage readers are still in their innocent state, quietly absolving Los Angeles show-business of the actual mental and emotional control of the voters that it really has. Why do I keep blaring it? Because it is TRULY ASTOUNDING! To have this blatantly obvious information about the character of our society and culture, whereas most other people completely space it! Meanwhile, Nation of Change writers jeer the NRA assertion that TV, videos, and movies are responsible for our culture of violence, I don't know whether to be disgusted or laugh! Yes, our culture is CREATED by TV, vidoes, and movies! It is OBVIOUS! Meanwhile, we still have to keep Jack away from the NRA, I just tried to send them a supportive email, and the "internet" said, "No dice." Yup, just like at the gun club where we had NO INFORMATION about contacting the NRA for Jack. No information about the NRA at a gun club???? (I'll try again, the NRA really should know I think they're right about our culture.....)

. . . Shhh it is a

. . . Shhh it is a secret....we the people do not run our country... We can not go to Washington and complain because we no longer have the right to complain...
They run our country and look down on us - - - look at how the politicians walk around with their heads (blank - blank - blank ) up in the air.....strutting around smuggly with their five weeks vacations - - their..... shh secret fact finding excursions to play golf as a side trip......
. . There was a judge here in N.J. "iron mike" never gave anyone a break....a.k.a. maximum mike - the harshest sentence premissionable by the law......when scumby got caught with his fingers in the till - HE GOT P.T.I. ( PRE-TRIAL-INTERVENTION).......NO COMMENT FROM THE BAR. . . . NO COMMENT FROM HIS FELLOW ??LAWYERS?? ( OH, GEE. GOLLY MISS MOLLY I MIGHT BE NEXT I'M NOT SAYING NOTHIN )......
. . . L A CK I N G ......M O R A L I T Y .......W A S H I N G T O N ........Shh SECRET

If you want to understand why

If you want to understand why poor Southern right-wingers are so easily duped, read "Deer Hunting with Jesus"

I've read that book, equal

I've read that book, equal parts funny and depressing, how people are manipulated into thinking that ignorance is a virtue, and then vote for candidates that oppose their economic interests. Al Franken referred to this as the "Guns, God, and Gays" process, playing up those issues to avoid any discussion of economic fairness or the necessity of working for the common good.

Reich is correct about the

Reich is correct about the Gops but misleadingly he writes as if most of what he says doesn't apply equally to the Dems. ALL members of Congress run only in their districts. Unless the district is a relatively unusual 'swing' district, a Congressguy doesn't have to worry about what the public thinks. And right now, just after an election and nearly two years to go before the next one, even from a swing district the guy doesn't really have to worry. No, the Gops don't have an evident active national leader, but aside from the right-of-Richard-Nixon lame-duck president do the Dems have one either? And anyhow, even if there were a Gop 'leader', why would that person have to worry now - with the next election nearly two years away? Yes, for now the public will blame the Gops more than the Dems, but how much of the public will put much weight on the concerns of Jan. 2013 - or even remember them - a year and a half later, going into the next campaigns?

All of which is to say: not just the Republican party is broken; the entire federal system - which can render itself immune to public feedback for two years at a time - is broken.

"their own districts—which,

"their own districts—which, because of gerrymandering, are growing even more purely Republican."

This doesn't make sense. Gerrymandering means you create a few districts with large majorities of the opposition so that you can have a narrow but decisive majority in many other districts.

Please explain what I'm missing.

nope. It means the party in

nope. It means the party in power in a state creates as many districts as it can where they will be the majority. Precisely why Calif voters decided to have a bipartisan non- politician committee draw the districts after census

Republicans only care what

Republicans only care what billionaires and millionaires think because Money Talks.

why is it not possible that

why is it not possible that the real issue is decreasing spending, yes everyone knows and 85% believe we need more revenue, but we need to cut spending. does anyone out there think we can continue to borrow from our children to fund current programs.

decreasing spending means

decreasing spending means closing our useless overseas bases and ending our purposeless multi-trillion dollar wars.

that is something our govt (both parties, :( ) absolutely does not want to do.

thanks reich and why are the

thanks reich and why are the people from the south so backward politically....they support a party that is totally against them and they are its slaves...I am not a politician so I can say it like it is!!!!!

thanks reich and why are the

thanks reich and why are the people from the south so backward politically....they support a party that is totally against them and they are its slaves...I am not a politician so I can say it like it is!!!!!

j a b is finding out that bho

j a b is finding out that bho wants the cliff to happen that is why no compromise from the white house

Oldhat, there hasn't been

Oldhat, there hasn't been further compromise from the White House because BHO made his initial offer (more taxes for all over $400K) a compromise from what his base was calling for (more taxes for all over $250K income). BHO always seems to be so concerned to try to make policy the GOP can get behind that he gives away what his base wants before the GOP can demand it, so the GOP thus gets away with the claim that he won't compromise when that is about all he ever does, from the first initial offer of negotiations.

the 400 plan was jab idea and

the 400 plan was jab idea and in the press conference bho said no way bho will get what he wants [ cliff] he just would like gop to agree wait till the 15 states or so that expanded medicaid are told no fed dollars suckers

This comment is clueless.

This comment is clueless. Boehner can't even get the support of republicans for his $milllion/year exclusion to tax cut extension. Please tell me you are pulling in $400K + per year, so must attack the demo plan (for shortsighted, selfish unpatriotic reasons). Otherwise you are simply a pathetic fool. A slave who loves his corporate masters.

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