Divided we fall

Polls show most voters want Congress to seek out compromise, but Republican congressman's vocal supporters want him to stand firm
Associated Press
Aug 14, 2013

Republican Patrick McHenry's loudest constituents have no desire to see conciliation on gridlocked Capitol Hill, unless it comes from President Barack Obama and his fellow Democrats.

As the congressman holds public question-and-answer sessions with constituents during Congress' summer break, conservatives and GOP loyalists who enjoy significant influence in his western North Carolina district are demanding that he and his House colleagues defund "Obamacare," refuse to raise the nation's debt limit and generally intensify opposition to the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Congress has abysmal approval ratings, and polls suggest that most voters want the divided government to seek out compromise. Yet the no-holds-barred attitude on display here — and elsewhere as other House Republicans hold town-hall style gatherings — offers an ominous forecast of the legislative battles ahead this fall and underscores how little political incentive many Republicans have to reach common ground on issues ranging from immigration to the budget.

The atmosphere has put Republicans like McHenry in a challenging spot. He and others are all but forced to square their criticism of the president with their unwillingness to go as far as the far right wants. In doing so, they risk irking the party's most conservative voters and drawing a primary challenge; many face re-election in districts Obama lost in 2012.

So at nearly every event over the past week, the 37-year-old, fifth-term congressman pre-emptively opened several recent appearances by suggesting that there are limits to the GOP's power, reminding his constituents that "elections have consequences ... (and) this president is in office through 2016." He found himself seeking to delicately explain why he doesn't support a government shut-down or a national credit default, and why there's only so much House Republicans can do to stop funding the health care law given that some of the federal spending is automatic.

Still, at the Lincolnton Chamber of Commerce, about 40 miles outside Charlotte, Keith Gaskill told McHenry he wants to see "more backbone from the Republican Party" against Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and the rest of the executive branch.

McHenry reminded Gaskill that he voted to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress.

And, when Lincoln County resident Robert Varney insisted that Congress should remove Holder from office, McHenry noted that the Democratic Senate would have to hold a trial.

"Do you really think that would happen?" he asked Varney, who was unbowed.

Varney was among voters who praised Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, tea party favorites who want to deny money for implementing Obama's health care law even if that means not financing core government functions at all after Sept. 30. Others pressed McHenry on whether he would vote to extend the nation's debt limit later this fall.

And a crowd at Lincolnton City Hall erupted in applause when a retired FBI agent from McHenry's hometown declared that "money is oxygen is Washington" and told McHenry that Republicans should "use the power of the purse" to extract what they want from the executive branch.

When constituents pressed him on health care, McHenry noted he voted against the law. But he also tried to convince the most vocal critics of it that shutting down government won't satisfy their concerns.

"No matter how much you dislike government, government does things we need," he said, citing military operations at one stop and noting Social Security at another.

On one hand, he called the nation's borrowing limit a legitimate tool for "leverage" against Obama and Democrats in an overhaul of the nation's taxing and spending blueprint — though he was short on details about his desired changes. Yet when pushed, McHenry carefully added a caveat. "We have to make good on our obligations," he said, tacitly explaining that raising nation's credit cap is about paying bills already due, not future spending priorities.

One pending issue where McHenry made little attempt at nuance was immigration. He assured multiple questioners that the House would act first on a single bill dealing only with border control. But he said, "Under no circumstance will I ever vote for the Senate bill" that includes an eventual path to citizenship for people in the country illegally.

McHenry, like others in GOP-leaning districts, still fielded withering critiques from outnumbered Democrats and the occasional independent. But the exchanges usually revealed sentiments in the congressman's favor.

Questioners in rural Polk County lambasted McHenry's vote for a less generous nutrition assistance program that Republicans want to separate from farm subsidies — ending a four-decade precedent for a unified farm-and-food-stamp bill. McHenry insisted that GOP plans won't harm "any individual child" but are aimed at "able-bodied adults who refuse to work," as many nodded their heads in approval.

Asked his thoughts on the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction blueprint— bipartisan recommendations for curtailing expensive entitlement outlays and raising taxes — McHenry called the plan "credible," but quickly added that it has "a number of flaws ... particularly when you talk about raising taxes even higher" than the January deal on earnings higher than $400,000.

At several stops, McHenry asked how many people believe "things in Washington are as bad as they've ever been?"

They're wrong, he said. The worst, he explained over murmurs of curiosity, was "about 150 years ago ... when a congressman walked over and caned a senator." Though he avoided the details, he was referring to an 1856 incident when a pro-slavery House member from South Carolina beat an anti-slavery senator from Massachusetts at his desk. "That," he said, "was the last time our country was this divided."

 

Comments

grumpy

Then answer why they didn't go for single payer instead of obamacare? They got ZERO repube votes for obamacare. If theyALL wanted single payer they should have went for it. But that would have meant all dims wanted single payer. ALL the dims DIDN'T want single payer. The 20% wing nuts had to compromise with the rest. As I said the dims comprimised with themselves to pass obamacare. The dims got ZERO votes from Repubes. Who were the dims compromising with? Why didn't ANY repubes vote for obamacare if they "compromised" with the dims?

Come back and get your snout rubbed in it some more. The dims compromised with themselves.

The Big Dog's back

As usual you're wrong. But you know that, but you're just a troll.

grumpy

Again WHO, specfically did the dims compromise with? They dims didn't get a single vote from the repubes for obamacare. They DIDN'T compromise with ANY repube, the 20% left wingnuts compromised with the rest of the dims to even get obamacare passed.

They had to payoff several dims just to pass obamacare, they had no chace with single payer. If ALL dims wanted single payer they would have passed that since the dims got NO repube votes. If ALL dims wanted single payer, WHY DIDN'T THE DIMS VOTE ON THAT? They didn't have the votes, only the 20% left wingnuts wanted single payer.

If it is so obvious I am wrong, link to your evidence. Simple it doesn't exist, you lied again.

SamAdams

If most Americans want Congress to compromise, they're certainly getting what they want, and in spades!

Congress compromises all the time! Members compromise their principles. They compromise the Constitution. They compromise national security, the economy, and just about everything else. And the White House? It compromises in the same manner and just as often itself.

What Americans NEED (regardless of what they want or THINK they want) are politicians that DON'T compromise such things. You can appreciate a candidate's position on a given issue or not, but if it's a basic principle of his/hers, you should (at a minimum) be able to count on him/her to uphold it. Instead, whatever benefits the powers that be is more often than not the end result of just about anything and everything.

The sad thing is that you and I have the power to ensure that certain compromises AREN'T made. Some years ago, I met then-Senator Mike DeWine and asked him a question. He gave me the usual political babble, smiling all the while. When he finished, I looked him right in the eye and said, "Yeah, that's great. Now could you answer the question?" He was taken aback – I don't imagine he was much used to that kind of thing — but you know what? HE ANSWERED THE QUESTION.

Forget the nonsense of who cares about re-election and who doesn't (silly premise since almost ALL of them seem to care EXCLUSIVELY about re-election once they're in office, but bear with me, here). If somebody makes promises, HOLD THEM TO THEM. If they fail to at least put out a credible effort to KEEP those promises, then find another representative who WILL.

Stop complaining about politics and politicians. It's patently obvious it doesn't work. Instead, start being responsible your OWN self and behave accordingly. Pretend you're the parent of a wayward three year-old: Demanding, throwing tantrums, certain he's the center of the universe. And then spank, put into the "thinking corner," or withhold privileges until he learns the lesson. There's only one way to raise a responsible and honorable adult, and it's demanding responsibility and honor from the first.

The Big Dog's back

And this my friends is why we have gridlock. Your principles may not be the same as mine. So now what?

SamAdams

Gridlock isn't necessarily a bad thing. If two principles (NOT "wants," NOT "necessities," but PRINCIPLES) are so diametrically opposed, They're either both wrong, or one is COMPLETELY wrong. In that case, it's much better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing!

Huron_1969

Gridlock leads to "Kick the can down the road" and the results often lead to a bigger problem at a later date than what you started with.
Might as well put up a sign "Country For Sale, needs some repair, good fixer-upper project"

Maybe we need a new rule for congress... kick the can down the road 3 times and your out! Send 'em to the dugout and bring in a new squad. Maybe then they would rediscover teamwork and realize we are all on the same team

Contango

Re: "'Kick the can down the road'"

Not-to-worry, democracies tend to inflate their way out of debt leaving their citizens to pay the price.

See: "This Time is Different"

http://www.amazon.com/This-Time-...

The Big Dog's back

What???

Contango

Pres. Obama's "mandate":

"As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people.

We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

- H.L. Mencken, Baltimore Sun (26 July 1920)

grumpy

" the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

We've had that come true for the last few decades... some worse than others.

Contango

Caption on the above photo:

Hey, Mitch! See this $50K watch? I used money from my campaign slush fund to buy it. Nice huh?

Contango

Re: "some worse than others."

Two bad ones back-to-back, LBJ and Nixon pretty much did me in on the major parties.

Nemesis

Gridlock? GREAT!!! When the legislature is passing bills, no one's life, liberty, or property is safe.

The freest states in the union have legislatures that only meet for a month or less each year.

The Big Dog's back

We're talking about the national level.

Contango

Re: "We're talking about the national level."

GAWD are you stoopid.

He's writing that the U.S. Congress should do likewise putz.

The Big Dog's back

Unfortunately nincompoop, the world doesn't stop because the Repubs want to sip martinis and sit around the pool.

Contango

Re: "the world doesn't stop"

So without govt. the world would stop?

GAWD are you stooped!

The Big Dog's back

Your comebacks are getting more off the wall everyday. Did you change meds?

kURTje

Remember Dog who "ain't" a Christian. Karl Marx was an atheist too.

Centauri

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R...
The Ruling Class And What They Own

Centauri

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/

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