Tag: kevin mccarthy
Freedom Caucus Still Whining About Speaker McCarthy's 'Broken Promises'

Freedom Caucus Still Whining About Speaker McCarthy's 'Broken Promises'

Members of the House Freedom Caucus are still seething at Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for coming to an agreement with President Joe Biden that avoided a catastrophic default. They insist he broke promises made in order to secure that final, 15th round of balloting that put him in the speaker’s chair—promises McCarthy and his team insist didn’t happen.

The Freedom Caucus swear that McCarthy promised he would never let a bill pass with more Democratic votes than Republican. The debt ceiling agreement passed with 165 Democratic votes, and 149 from Republicans. “We were told they’d never put a bill on the floor that would take more Democrats than Rs to pass it. We were told that,” Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona whined last week. Reps. Chip Roy of Texas and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who extracted coveted seats on the powerful Rules Committee in their deal-making with McCarthy, also insist he promised them nothing would be allowed out of that committee and onto the floor unless it had the unanimous vote of all nine Republicans.

The rest of the Rules Committee and McCarthy’s team deny that he ever made those promises, and there isn’t any public evidence that he did. There is, however, that unresolved mystery of the secret documents that plenty of people said they saw circulating during that chaotic week in January, when McCarthy was wheeling and dealing his way to the gavel. Plenty of rank-and-file Republicans believed at the time that the secret addendum to the rules package governing this session existed, and felt sold out.

There is one promise that he’s not denying, and this one is most dangerous for the future stability of the government: McCarthy reportedly told the Freedom Caucus that he would roll back funding for the 2024 fiscal year to 2022 levels. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck repeated that claim on CNN last weekend. “He promised when he was running for speaker that we would use the 2022 baseline numbers as the appropriation numbers for this year, and then went back on that promise with this particular legislation, where he promised and signed into law the 2023 numbers.”

The danger in this claim, which again McCarthy isn’t denying, is in those 12 spending bills that Congress has to agree to before Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown and/or a one percent across-the-board cut to everything starting in January. The topline spending for the next fiscal year was set in this debt ceiling agreement at nearly $1.6 trillion. Where Biden and the Democrats are looking at that as $1.6 trillion in guaranteed spending, the Freedom Caucus and Republicans could very well be looking at that as a cap, with the intention of spending much less.

McCarthy, maybe in a bid to recapture the hearts and minds of the Freedom Caucus, hinted at spending fights to come in the next few months, including getting all the “wokeness” out of government. No. Really.

There’s no denying that members of the Freedom Caucus were the biggest losers in the debt ceiling agreement, but they could still regroup to make that appropriations process impossible and threaten a government shutdown if they don’t see the cuts they say McCarthy promised them. The ultimate threat they have over McCarthy—the motion to vacate the chair and boot him—completely fizzled out this time around. It does, however, still exist as a possibility, and the fight over the 12 appropriations bills is a likely place for it to bubble up again.

One of the negotiators in the debt ceiling deal for McCarthy, Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, acknowledged that threat on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday. "I'm not ruling out anything. It depends on how reasonable each side is, obviously, in the negotiations. It's very difficult to predict.”

Between now and October 1, when the new funding agreement has to kick in, the House is scheduled to work a grand total of 36 days. That’s subject to change—they can always cancel recess and work.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

'I voted'

Poll: Congressional Republicans Rated Low In 2024 Battleground Districts

When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was asked what he learned from his debt default negotiations with the White House, he said that going forward, if Republicans stick together they will be able to "eliminate the wokeism ... eliminate the waste" in spending.

McCarthy's response to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt is the latest example of how the goals of congressional Republicans register among voters who aren't thoroughly steeped in the culture of MAGA grievance.

Not only do most Americans view the term "woke" in a positive light, but new polling from the progressive consortium Navigator Research also reveals the increasingly dismal view voters have of House Republicans, their priorities, and the job they are doing for the American people.

The survey asked 1,500 likely voters in 61 battleground districts about the performance of their specific member by name. Democratic incumbents as a group came out 6 points above water, with 39 percent rating their performance positively, 33 percent negatively, and 28 percent saying they didn't know.

That may not seem overwhelmingly positive at first blush, but Republican members who represent Biden districts and Trump districts fared far worse. GOP representatives in Biden districts were five points underwater (30 percent positive - 35 percent negative), and Republicans in Trump districts tested poorest of all the groups at nine points underwater (34 percent positive -- 43 percent negative).

That's a five-alarm fire right there for a majority that can't lose more than a handful of seats next year. Even on "the economy," Democrats tested better than Republicans. Although Democratic incumbents were six points underwater, Republicans in Biden districts were 10 points underwater, while those in Trump districts were 13 points underwater.

By 19 points, voters across these 61 battleground districts say the House Republican majority has "prioritized the wrong things," 34 percent right things -- 53 percent wrong things.

But perhaps most damning for the House Republicans: GOP members in Biden districts are also 19 points underwater on the priorities question, 35 percent right things -- 54 percent wrong things.

The Republican majority performs even worse when voters are asked if it has focused more on "economic issues" or "non-economic issues." Across districts, Republicans are net -26 points, with just 29 percent saying they're focused on the economy while 55 percent saying they're focused on non-economic issues. Republicans in Biden districts are similarly 25 points underwater.

The negative assessments of Republicans' job performance and issue focus culminates in a question revealing that voters across these battleground districts don't believe GOP incumbents care about people like them, or share their values and priorities.

Asked whether their representative cares about people like them: Democratic incumbents are 3 points underwater, but Republican incumbents in both Biden and Trump districts are 15 points underwater.

Asked if their member shares their priorities: Democrats are net -2, while Biden-district Republicans are net -16, and Trump-district Republicans are net -15. A question about their member sharing their values drew very similar results: Democrats -4, Biden-district Republicans -15, and Trump-district Republicans -17.

These findings add yet more evidence to a pile of data suggesting congressional Republicans could be facing a very tough cycle, particularly as they continue to prioritize anti-woke rhetoric and advance wholly irrelevant conspiracy-based investigations for the remainder of the 118th Congress.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Joe Biden

Biden's Debt Ceiling Victory Destroyed The Right's 'Senility' Smear

It is part of the right-wing canon that President Joe Biden is senile, with his mental faculties deteriorated to the point where he must be confined out of sight in his basement to avoid embarrassing himself publicly. This talking point was always a dubious and opportunistic political attack. But Biden’s successful negotiation of the debt ceiling deal demolishes the claim – and the right hasn’t figured out how to handle that.

Republicans and their allied media apparatus have hyped claims of Biden’s purported dementia since the 2020 presidential race. Trumpists on Fox News and elsewhere frequently highlighted Biden’s speech flubs (he has a stammer) and out-of-context video clips to draw attention to his admittedly advanced age and suggest he was “struggling.” At the same time, they attacked Biden for purportedly “hiding in the basement,” suggesting that Biden was eschewing public rallies not due to the pandemic but rather because his campaign was hiding him from voters to avoid scrutiny of his mental acuity.

Biden’s electoral victory did nothing to quell such attacks, with Fox figures regularly and casually describing Biden as “senile,” and extremely online Republican officials like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis talking on the campaign trail about the need to send “Joe Biden back to his basement.”

The last week has been brutal for this theory, with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Biden personally negotiating a debt ceiling deal that right-wing media figures call a “total cave” to Democrats that produced “a typical DC swamp sewer bill.” In March, McCarthy offered to bring the president “soft food” to kickstart negotiations, an obvious crack at his age. But on Sunday, after striking a deal, the speaker described Biden to reporters as “very professional, very smart. Very tough at the same time.” The resulting legislation passed the House on Wednesday night and now moves to the Senate.

The right is having difficulty coming to terms with how, as Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) put it on Twitter, “Republicans got outsmarted by a President who can’t find his pants.”

Some, like Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity, are treating Biden’s purported senility as entirely unrelated to the result. Hannity was discussing foreign policy as the House began voting on the bill, and said of the president, “We all know he's a cognitive mess, and he has no idea that today is Wednesday.” Minutes later, after the bill passed, Hannity complained that Republicans’ “hand was stronger” and expressed disappointment that they didn’t get more out of their hostage-taking. But he did not apparently consider how a president who didn’t know what day it was had managed to outnegotiate McCarthy.

Others, like Fox’s Jesse Watters, are continuing to talk up Biden’s purported mental frailty while ignoring the debt ceiling negotiations altogether. Watters did not mention the debt ceiling deal at all during Wednesday’s show. But he found time to amplify an actor’s claim that Biden has “obviously declining mental faculties” and to claim that Biden is “going to stay at home, he's not going to campaign” for reelection.

And a third group, headlined by Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, is trying to cope with the tension here, albeit without considering that perhaps the problem is that their talking point isn’t true.

It is an embarrassing failure for Bartiromo and company to have spent years telling their audience that Biden is practically a “vegetable,” leaving them woefully unprepared to grapple with evidence of the president’s actual faculties. But don’t expect anything to change – they are all too deeply committed to the bit to alter course at this point.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Kevin McCarthy

McCarthy Admits Biden 'Walled Off' Social Security And Medicare In Buidget Talks

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday that he wants to create a commission to look into future cuts to Social Security and Medicare because President Joe Biden refused to allow any cuts to the programs during negotiations over raising the debt ceiling.

“We only got to look at 11 percent of the budget to find these cuts. We have to look at the entire budget,” McCarthy said during an appearance on Fox News.

When anchor Harris Faulkner asked McCarthy why Republicans didn’t see the entire budget during debt ceiling talks, McCarthy replied, “The president walled off all the others.”

McCarthy said: “The majority driver of the budget is mandatory spending. It’s Medicare, Social Security, interest on the debt.” He told Faulkner that Congress was not done cutting spending out of the budget: “You know what, I’m going to make some people uncomfortable by doing that, but I’m not going to give up on the American people. … This is the first step. I’m going to announce a commission coming forward from the speaker, from bipartisan on both sides of the aisle,” to look for possible further budget cuts.

It’s unclear who would be on the committee, or how it would be different from the House Budget Committee, which exercises oversight of the annual federal budget. A McCarthy spokesperson did not return a request for comment from the American Independent Foundation regarding the committee’s makeup.

But Democrats are already slamming the proposal.

“The Speaker is once again making it clear that Republicans cannot be trusted to protect these lifesaving programs and that’s why voters will relegate them back to the minority next year,” Viet Shelton, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to the House, told the American Independent Foundation.

McCarthy and House Republicans had been refusing to raise the debt ceiling without any cuts in federal spending, claiming the national debt is out of control and needs to be reined in. Republican lawmakers, however, played a large role in the debt, voting to pass a massive tax bill and multiple COVID-19 packages that added $7.8 trillion in debt during former President Donald Trump’s tenure, according to a report from ProPublica.

In remarks prepared for his State of the Union address in February, Biden asked Republicans to agree that they would not force cuts to Social Security and Medicaid in exchange for raising the debt ceiling:

Let us commit here tonight that the full faith and credit of the United States of America will never, ever be questioned. Some of my Republican friends want to take the economy hostage unless I agree to their economic plans. All of you at home should know what their plans are. Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Medicare and Social Security to sunset every five years. That means if Congress doesn’t vote to keep them, those programs will go away. Other Republicans say if we don’t cut Social Security and Medicare, they’ll let America default on its debt for the first time in our history. I won’t let that happen. Social Security and Medicare are a lifeline for millions of seniors.

When Republicans booed Biden’s comments, he ad libbed, “As we all apparently agree, Social Security and Medicare is off the books now, right?”

As a result of Social Security and Medicare cuts being taken off the table during the debt ceiling negotiations, White House concessions to House Republicans were confined to caps on discretionary spending for the next two years, some cuts to IRS funding, and new work requirements for food stamps.

Republican hard-liners have railed against the deal, which would suspend the debt limit through January 2025, after which it would raise the cap by one percent, saying it did not make enough cuts.

“No. Republican. Should. Support. This,” Rep. Chip Roy, a Texas Republican leading the opposition to the deal, tweeted on Tuesday.

Combined, Social Security and Medicare account for nearly one-third of the federal budget, according to data from the Treasury Department.

But cutting funding to the programs, which provide retirement, survivor, disability and health care benefits to Americans, is deeply unpopular among voters.

An Associated Press poll published in April found 79 percent of voters oppose cutting Social Security benefits or raising the eligibility age, while 70 percent oppose raising the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67.

A Fox News poll from March found that 71 percent of voters thought it was more important to keep the Social Security and Medicare programs funded at current levels than to reduce the deficit.

Democrats have applauded Biden for the deal he negotiated.

“I commend President Biden for his leadership in fending off devastating cuts and protecting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid,” Rep. Kevin Mullin (D-CA) tweeted early Thursday morning.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.