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Tag Archives: Paul Ryan
There is an old saying that a week is a lifetime in politics. In most weeks, there is a lot happening either behind the scenes or at lower levels (e.g., committee hearings and markups on bills that nobody is watching). It is the rare week, however, that so much is taking place front and center competing for the attention of the American public.
The big story of the week was the non-vote on and the collapse of the Republican effort at major health care reform — the so-called Affordable Health Care Act (a name that in itself was an attack on the bill that it was trying to “repeal and replace,” the Affordable Care Act. There are several significant aspects to this non-event.
First, despite their efforts, Donald Trump and Paul Ryan could not get the sizable Republican majority in the House to pass a bill (forget the exact details of the last version of the bill, they could not get a majority behind any version) on one of the top Republican priorities of the past seven years. While Trump may have been a great negotiator, it is very easy to reach a two-sided deal. (Of course, it’s possible that Trump’s belief in his negotiating skill may be one of his great delusions. He may have just been offering the right deal at the right time and actually have been taken to the cleaners in his business negotiations.)When you have three or more sides to a deal, however, it becomes very difficult to keep everybody on board. This problem is particularly true in politics — when one faction thinks that a bill is too conservative and the other faction thinks that the bill is too liberal, there really isn’t any change that could make both sides happy. At that point, it’s not really about negotiating but selling.
Now that the two national conventions are done, the next significant political events are primary elections across the country for offices ranging from the U.S. Senate to local offices and party committee people. As with presidential primaries, each state legislature gets to choose the date for their primary. Twenty states conserve money by holding their federal primary (and if they have state elections in an even year, their state offices primary) on the same date as their presidential primary. Ten states hold their non-presidential primary in May or June. (In addition, you have two weird states. New York holds three separate primaries — a presidential primary in April, a federal offices primary in June, and a state primary in September. Louisiana does not hold a separate primary, allowing all candidates to run in the general and using a run-off if nobody gets a majority.)
That leaves eighteen states that hold their non-presidential primary in August and September. Four states (Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington) hold their primary on August 2. Tennessee holds its primary on August 4. Four states (Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin) hold their primary on August 9. Hawaii holds its primary on August 13. Alaska and Wyoming hold their primary on August 16. Arizona and Florida hold their primary on August 30. Massachusetts holds its primary on September 8. The last three states (Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) hold their primary on September 13.
As each week passes, it is looking more and more likely that the Republicans are facing the great white whale of politics geeks — the contested convention. While as discussed earlier, it is likely that the campaigns will maneuver to change the rules governing the convention, there are also some games that the candidates can play within the existing rules as set forth in the Rules of the Republican Party.
We have already seen one type of game being played — trying to “steal” pledged delegates. As noted at this site, the national rules of the Republican Party do not give candidates the right to have input into the delegates pledged for that candidate, leaving it to the states to define what role (if any) candidates have in delegate selection. As the folks at 538 have noted, the majority of Republican delegates are selected by party conventions or committees. While each state has slightly different rules, a candidate with a good delegate selection strategy can slip his supporters into slots allocated to other candidates. While these delegates are supposedly bound by state party rules and Rule 16 to vote according to their pledge on the first ballot, those state rules only bind the delegates for a certain number of ballots (mostly only the first ballot). If nobody gets a majority on the first ballot, these stolen delegates could decide who wins on the second or third ballot.
The other games involve interpretation of the rules and the use of uncommitted delegates.
Sometimes, a week is a long time in politics. There are still 53 weeks to go to the 2016 general election, and three months to the Iowa Caucuses, but this week was a big week. Three candidates out on the Democratic side, a probable new speaker, an old investigative committee, a new investigative committee, and two elections — one in Canada and one in Louisiana.
In most Western democracies, the post of speaker is not considered to be a partisan post. Instead, the role of speaker is to be a fair and neutral chair. When a speaker retires, there are typically several candidates from all parties — experienced legislators who typically have served as deputy speakers or chairs of committees from outside the leadership of the parties. Choosing the new speaker is one of the few votes that does not follow party lines. In the U.S., however, the Speaker is expected to be a very unfair and partisan chair — the effective leader of his party in the House of Representatives. As a result, the internal divisions in the Republican Party have risen to the surface, making it difficult to choose a new speaker.
As has been discussed over the years in this blog. The Republican Party has some significant and fundamental divisions. On the one side, you have a dwindling number of moderate, so-called “Country Club” Republicans. While wanting a smaller government and lower taxes than Democrats, these Republicans have always seen the importance of good roads, a solid public education system, and an adequate safety nest. They are less concerned about social issues, except for desiring minimal disruption from social disorder.
Then you have “Wall Street” Republicans. This group wants low taxes with tax incentives for businesses. Again, social issues are less important.