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Lobbyist advises GOP to spend big and think small

boneless pork rectumsGOP estabishment politics is the epitome of a “green” industry. Nothing is ever thrown away. Baby poo is repackaged as butterscotch and sold to unsuspecting voters. Pathetic losers resurface time and again making the same mistakes over and over and collecting checks in the process. A prime example of this is a guy like John Feehery. Feehery used to work for go-along-get-along icon Bob Michel and was pushed aside during the 1994 Republican Revolution. As Erick says,

[Feehery] then weaseled his way back into power in Hastert’s office. Then we lost power. Hmmmm . . .

(as a note, mouse-over the link and check out the page title)

Since then he has proven himself the voice of true conservatism by supporting Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey… because Toomey just can’t win in Pennsylvania.

This is gut-check time for the Republican Party. They can be serious about taking back the Congress, or they can look good losing. Pat Toomey may be ideologically pure, but he can’t win in Pennsylvania. If he could, John Cornyn wouldn’t be taking such a strong position for Specter (and against Toomey). 

Arlen Specter can be a maddening figure to many conservatives, but he sides with the Republican leadership more often than not, and for the GOP to have any chance to take back the Senate a year from November, they need his seat to stay Republican. 

Likewise he supported Charlie Crist as being “more electable” than Marco Rubio. In 2012, while Mitt Romney was running up margins of+19 in North Dakota and +14 in Montana, the “electable” Rick Berg and Danny Rehberg lost by -1 and -4 respectively. In February 2009, he wrote a rather dickish op-ed in Politico slamming Rush Limbaugh. Today it is even more of a head-scratcher than it was at the time, especially in light of the 2010 elections, because clearly Rush has done more for the GOP than Feehery and a dozen of his coziest lobbyist butt-buddies.

None of this has hurt Feehery’s credibility with the GOP establishment. After Eric Cantor lost his primary to the “unelectable” David Brat, Kevin McCarthy became the new majority leader and Steve Scalise was elected majority whip. The first thing Scalise did was bring in Feehery to help select his staff. (An extensive, though partial, list of Feehery’s anti-conservative, big government positions are at that link, all RedState commentary on Feehery can be found here.)
Now that we’ve introduced you to the man, let’s take a look at his latest offering titled When the GOP Wins. Its preface:

Let’s assume that Republicans take the Senate and keep the House in this year’s midterms.

What happens then?

Here are seven thoughts about how they should govern.

Reading this one comes to the quick conclusion that Feehery a) has a tenuous grasp on what constitutes governing and b) confuses process with accomplishments.

1. Underpromise and overdeliver: The coach survived as Speaker for four complete terms because he kept expectations in check and consistently delivered for his conference. Conversely, while the Contract with America gets a lot of ink in the history books, it essentially was an exercise in overpromising and underdelivering. The result? Bill Clinton easily won reelection in 1996.

The Contract with America resulted in Bill Clinton winning in 1996. That alone should qualify Feehery for a chair in Martian History at any community college in the nation. See his point 5 for more details on how this worked.

2. Keep your agenda simple: When the Democrats swept into power in George W. Bush’s second midterm, they had the Six of ’06. The Republican Contract had 10 items. It’s better to keep it even simpler than that. When Hastert and Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) picked up the pieces after impeachment in 1999, they promised to “Secure America’s Future” with only four items (education, national security, economic security and healthcare). Ronald Reagan had only two big items: winning the Cold War and creating jobs.

This is so profoundly stupid one hardly knows where to begin. When Clinton ran in 1996, he did it on “Medicare, Medicaid, education, and the environment,” so the idea of catchy platform descriptions is hardly new or unique. But did that help him trounce Bob freakin Dole? I think not. Have you heard of “Secure America’s Future”? Quick, what were the Six of ’06? (answer) How does “underpromise and overdeliver” and “keep your agenda simple” work together? They don’t. Examine the Democrat Six of ’06 and you are able to understand how John McCain won in a landslide. How does “winning the Cold War and creating jobs” support the idea of “underpromise and underdeliver”? How could you over promise if you promised those items? Can we make “Fix it” our agenda? That is only one point.

3. Don’t overload reconciliation: When I talk to Republicans, they believe the only way they can get anything done is to stick it on the budget device that requires only 51 votes to pass. …

Thanks, John. We’d forgot all about that veto thingy. Good catch. We’ll retool our strategy. Of course, this is another bogus observation. A bill that passes with less than 2/3 vote is vulnerable to a veto. A budget or appropriations bill passing with 51 votes is just as vulnerable to a veto as a bill passing the Senate with 58 votes or 62 votes. What Feehery is actually doing is giving Obama carte blanche to do whatever he wants. If you are afraid to pass a bill because of a veto then your only option is to pass a bill that he’s happy with. This is what Harry Reid has been doing for five years. Congress has immense power to get its way when it is moving in the same direction. Worst casing it, the government works on a continuing resolution.

4. Get your work done: The appropriations process is the meat and potatoes of the legislative body… I think it is mistake to get rid of congressional-directed spending, not only from the constitutional perspective but also because it keeps every member in the game, trying to get something accomplished for their district. In any event, it is important that the Senate follow suit and get the spending bills done, because that takes power from the hands of the president and keeps it in the hands of the legislative branch.

As a lobbyist I am sure Feehery is feeling the pinch of the ban on earmarks. Just because that gravy train has ended doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. More to the point, this is process, not governance. And it is irrelevant process. Did Harry Reid’s refusal to pass a budget cost the Democrats a single Senate seat prior to December 2013? Is passing a budget going to be a factor in 2014? Those are rhetorical questions. This is the small minded thinking that so typifies the GOP establishment where a smooth process is the product, not the actual contents of the budget itself.

5. Remember that the last election wasn’t about you: Midterm elections are all about the president — not about the Congress. …

All Feehery needs is a toga and he would be ready to stand in the chariot whispering  “sic transit gloria mundi” in Mitch McConnell’s ear.

6. Try to expand your base: … Republicans should take some chances to make their brand more popular with non-Republicans. They should pass immigration reform, pronto. They should extend the Voting Rights Act. They should consider making birth control over the counter.

Expanding your base is nice. Burning your base down, not so much. There is no constituency in the GOP for “immigration reform” in any form that Obama would sign or could be trusted to carry out. For the first time the GOP is the party trusted on immigration and that is because conservatives in the GOP have held the line on the Senate’s amnesty bill. The Voting Rights Act has been extended. Presumably, Feehery is referring to “fixing” Section 4 of the VRA after the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional but one hesitates before assuming he actually knows what he is saying. But singling out states for shaming when there is no evidence of any violation of the VRA is just stupid. Congress can’t make birth control pills available over the counter, there is this whole FDA thingy out there that does that and overriding the scientific review process is hardly likely to be successful as Obama would veto such a bill.

7. President Obama is no longer the enemy: Republicans will gain more for their brand by proving they can govern than they will in continuing to oppose the president. Hastert worked with Clinton on spending bills and on the New Markets Initiative and, in the process, restored the Republican brand to such an extent the party could win the White House in 2000. For Republicans to be able to win back the White House in 2016, they have to prove they can run the country in 2014 — and they can only do that with the cooperation of President Obama.

So long as we have a Constitution that gives the president the authority to veto legislation, and the president continues to appoint the head of executive branch agencies, Congress cannot govern. It is impossible. Congress can act in concert with the president but mostly it must act in opposition — here I’m working on the novel idea that the parties actually believe in different things. Obama has no incentive whatsoever to allow the GOP to do things their way and every incentive to set up an endless series of policy fights in order to fire up the Democrat base for 2016. Feehery’s interpretation of the 2000 election is so far fetched as to defy comprehension. If you go through the history of the 2000 election you will find the number of people who went into the voting booth mumbling “gotta vote for Bush because Denny Hastert worked with Bill Clinton on the New Markets Initiative” approached zero. People don’t vote that way. To paraphrase Feehery’s point 5, presidential elections are about the president — not about the Congress.

What Feehery is not-so subtly pushing is a program of increased government spending that Obama will sign into law. He has editorialized in favor of crony capitalism. He is not interested in the future of the nation or the future of the GOP. He is interested in lining his wallet.

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