Commentary

Editorial: Tillis’ excuse on Supreme Court nominee is “hollow,” “phony”

In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer joined a long and growing list of major newspapers around the country to editorialize in favor of a hearing and vote for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Here’s the Observer in a recent editorial:

“In Merrick Garland, President Obama has nominated an eminently qualified jurist for the nation’s highest court.

As the well-respected chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit – commonly called the nation’s second highest court – one could argue that Garland is the most qualified jurist Obama could have picked….

Now that Obama has indeed named Garland, the GOP’s self-constructed political box squeezes a bit tighter. Most Republicans are sticking to their no-hearings stonewall. Hatch, however, says he’d be open to considering Garland during the lame-duck congressional session, should Hillary Clinton win the White House in November.

That’s rich. So, the Senate would block Obama’s nomination because he’s a lame duck. But a lame-duck Senate would willingly take up the nomination if threatened with prospects of a younger, more liberal nominee from a President-Elect Clinton or perhaps even some unpredictable wildcard from a President-Elect Trump.

It all underscores the hollow, phony quality of GOP leaders’ protestations that their no-hearings stance is ‘about the principle, not the person,’ as our own Sen. Thom Tillis put it.

The real principle has nothing to do with Obama’s lame-duck status, of course. The real animating principle is the same one that has driven the GOP the past seven years: Obama is the enemy. Whatever he wants, block it – even if sensible compromises or the occasional well-qualified nominee gets trampled in the process.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

Commentary

McCrory issues laughable response to offshore drilling decision

As reported hNoDrillJpgere and many other places this morning, the Obama administration has, after lots of careful consideration, decided to listen to public opinion, science, economics and common sense and say “no” to offshore oil and gas drilling off the coast of North Carolina and other Atlantic states. This is a great victory for our state’s already endangered coastline.

Not surprisingly, however, Governor Pat McCrory is cranky about the decision. This is from a statement he issued a few minutes ago:

“President Obama’s total reversal can only be described as a special political favor to far-left activists that have no problem importing energy resources from countries hostile to the United States. What’s more troubling is the President is closing the door before he even knows what resources can be harnessed in an environmentally sound way. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s deal could ultimately cost North Carolina thousands of new jobs and billions in needed revenue for schools, infrastructure, dredging and beach renourishment.”

A “favor to far-left activists,” huh? Uh, Governor, setting aside the absurdity of suggesting that a President in his last year of office is motivated by a desire to grant “favors” to “activists,” you might want to take note of the fact that your plan to drill right off of the North Carolina coast was opposed by more than 100 municipalities in North Carolina as well as scores of elected officials throughout the region, including loads of Republicans like Congressman Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford.

Commentary

Even Chris Christie thinks the U.S. Senate is wrong not to consider Supreme Court nominee

Chris ChristieHow outrageous is the mindless blockade launched by GOP U.S. Senators of any nominee President Obama might submit to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court? This outrageous: Even New Jersey Governor and Donald Trump supporter Chris Christie thinks it’s wrong. This is from a post on Talking Points Memo:

‘People can always vote up or down however they choose, but hearings should be held,’ said Christie, who dropped out of the presidential race and endorsed Donald Trump.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that Federal Appeals Court Judge Jane Kelly is under consideration by the White House for the position. If she is in fact the nominee, it will be fascinating to hear GOP Senators explain their reasons for not considering her.

In 2013, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley supported her nomination to the Court of Appeals by describing her as a “forthright woman of high integrity and honest character” and a person of “exceptionally keen intellect.” She was then confirmed by the Senate 96-0.

Commentary

Thom Tillis’ disingenuous “opposition” to the obstruction of an Obama Supreme Court nominee

Thom_Tillis_official_portraitIt looks like the advice of political pros has begun to sink in with national GOP leaders and they’re starting to back off slightly from their absurd “no way, no how” stance when it comes to considering an Obama Supreme Court nominee in 2016. How else to explain the fact that they’ve allowed a junior, non-lawyer backbencher like North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis to publicly express the concern that his Republican colleagues shouldn’t go down the road of becoming “obstructionists” when it comes to a nomination?

Of course, as welcome as Tillis’ change of tone is, it still falls well short of being truthful and/or helpful for at least two big reasons.

Number One is that despite expressing concerns about not even considering an Obama nominee, Tillis went on to make clear that he still favors what can only be called obstruction. According to the senator, unless the President essentially nominates the second coming of Antonin Scalia, “we’ll use every device available to block that nomination.” In other words, Tillis’ isn’t really opposed to obstruction of a nominee — just the appearance of it.

Number Two is the blatant hypocrisy of Tillis’ stance. You see, despite his professed concerns about being an obstructionist, that is actually the only way one can fairly characterize what the senator has been ever since he arrived in Washington last January and somehow managed to wangle an appointment to the Judiciary Committee. As the good folks at People for the American Way, the Center for American Progress, Defenders of Wildlife and many other groups have been documenting for years, Senate Republicans have been obstructing Obama court appointees with such regularity that the whole thing has long since descended into farce.

Throughout the country, dozens of important federal judicial slots stand vacant — many for years — all because GOP senators won’t consider and confirm nominees at a reasonable pace. Heck, here in North Carolina, the vacancy in the Eastern District federal court is so old that the Obama administration has given up on even appointing someone. It’s so bad and so ridiculous that the delays of month and years have even occurred for nominees who have ended up getting confirmed unanimously. If Tillis is so concerned about being an obstructionist, why has it taken him 13 months to speak out — especially when he serves on the committee that does most of the obstructing?

The bottom line: Let’s hope Tillis’ statement heralds a real change in the senator’s behavior and that of his colleagues, but given his record and absent genuine action anytime soon, it’s safe to assume that the new stance is all for show.

 

Commentary

Obama’s “socialist” budget vs. Reagan’s: Some amazing comparisons

obama2Ronald reaganBob Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is out with a new and, as always, trenchant and fact-heavy take on President Obama’s new budget proposal. Here, however, are two paragraphs that really speak volumes:

“Some critics undoubtedly will castigate the budget for focusing its deficit reduction efforts on the revenue side. But we should keep several facts in mind. First, its $2.9 trillion in deficit reduction for 2017-2026 would come on top of the $4 trillion to $5 trillion in deficit reduction that policymakers have already achieved since 2010, and those savings came heavily on the spending side. With the new Obama proposals, total deficit reduction over this period would fall roughly 50-50 between spending and revenues, OMB estimates.

Also, part of the proposed Obama revenue increases would effectively “pay for” the large year-end tax bill that policymakers enacted in December without offsetting its cost. Under the budget, federal spending would average 22.3 percent of GDP over the coming decade, which isn’t far above the 21.6 percent average of the Reagan years. Moreover, a significantly larger share of Americans is elderly now and receiving Social Security and Medicare than in the Reagan years. In addition, we’ve experienced more than a quarter-century of health care cost growth since the Reagan years, which has boosted the cost of federal health insurance programs, most notably Medicare.”

You got that? Not only has the President made enormous progress in deficit reduction since taking over during a period of economic chaos, the deficit in his latest proposal is essentially on par with those of Reagan years. Indeed, given our aging population and the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in recent decades, its quite arguably more conservative and tightfisted than the ones the country lived under during the presidency of the modern Right’s patron saint.

At a supposedly nonpartisan Locke Foundation event the other day (the one at which the group’s former boss, in truly nonpartisan fashion, lambasted a current candidate for President as a “a charlatan, and just a pathetic, disgusting human being”), a conservative politico attacked President Obama (according to a tweet by a Locke  staffer) for supposedly seeing himself as “the linear heir to continue FDR’s socialist agenda.”

If that’s so, Greenstein’s post makes clear that the “line” ran through Ronald Reagan as well.