TheDC Morning: Paul Ryan’s ‘Path to Prosperity’ fails to inspire fist fights at town halls

Mike Riggs Contributor
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1.) Boehner back in the hot seat — We hope the Speaker remembered to line his britches with asbestos, because the debt ceiling debate is only going to get hotter. The Club for Growth and Sen. Rand Paul will support raising the debt ceiling only in exchange for an all-but-impossible Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution. Americans for Prosperity, which has people in both the Tea Party freshmen’s “Hell no” caucus as well as GOP leadership’s “Well, OK” caucus, is “confident that the debt ceiling will not be raised unless there is something meaningful attached to it.” While Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips said, “I don’t know that there’s any conditions out there that they can create to get us to support [a debt ceiling increase].” Cantor’s office attempted to please all-comers in a statement released Thursday: “Republicans will not agree to raise the debt limit without binding budget reforms and immediate spending cuts that will guarantee we don’t continue these bad spending practices in the future.” And if GOP leadership caves? Michael Needham of the Heritage Foundation says, “There’s going to be a lot of disappointed people.”

2.) Did the NLRB bite off more Carolina BBQ than it can chew? — The National Labor Relations Board wants to prevent Boeing, a private company, from building its new 787 Dreamliner in South Carolina, a right to work state. If the NLRB thought this would be an easy task, it was wrong, and also insane. Sen. Jim DeMint is angry. The move, he says, is “nothing more than a political favor for the unions who are supporting President Obama’s reelection campaign.” DeMint is going to “use every tool at my disposal to stop the president from carrying out this malicious act.” Hell, even the South’s most delicate senator is upset. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the NLRB’s scheme is “one of the worst cases of unelected bureaucrats doing the bidding of special interest groups that I’ve ever seen.” The bolt munchers at the International Association of Machinists District 571, meanwhile, are hailing this as “a victory for all American workers.” Oh, except for the workers in South Carolina, where the unemployment rate is hovering around 10 percent.

3.) Gang of Six fails to inspire fear in colleagues — The bipartisan group of scapegoats tasked with creating a budget solve-all that Pres. Obama can take credit for is having a rough time of it. Anti-tax prophet Grover Norquist (deductions be upon him) is demanding that Sen. Tom Coburn abandon the group, and Sen. Orrin Hatch is threatening to derail whatever plan the gang comes up with. “Hatch has been insistent on no new taxes,” a Senate aide told The Hill, which also reported that Hatch “told conservative activists shortly before the April recess that he would oppose any deficit-reduction package that raises taxes, period.” Poor Gang of Six. This kind of crap never happens to the Latin Kings.

4.) Canada continues proudly suppressing political speech — In Canada, it is against the law to publish election returns until everybody in the country has voted. The ban on publishing election results dates back to the 1930s, and was upheld in 2000 when the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that a blogger had violated the law by publishing election returns on his blarg (Canadian for “blog”). In today’s 24-hour citizen-journo ecosystem, can Canada continue to suppress political speech? It’s certainly going to try, reports the Montreal Gazette. “Realistically, Elections Canada cannot possibly enforce a nationwide ban on premature tweeting or blogging or Facebooking of election results…Nonetheless, John Enright, who speaks for Elections Canada, says his agency has no choice but to administer the law as written. Citizens are allowed to phone or text friends, or send private e-mails. But posting to a Facebook wall, to a webpage or to Twitter will be considered a violation.” This email writer would take free speech over free health care any day of the week.

5.) Why are there no horrible town hall meetings about Ryan’s budget plan? — “The town halls of 2009—dry runs in June, and really volcanic ones in August—changed the way that Washington talked about the law that would become the Affordable Care Act,” writes Dave Weigel. So why haven’t Democrats coordinated the same response to Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan? According to Weigel, “Democratic strategists say there is no larger strategy at work right now” to oppose Ryan’s plan, but that labor leaders are supposedly getting ready for an August putsch that would amplify what happened in Wisconsin. But if nothing happens before then, suggests Weigel, “Republicans will return to Washington in May with the knowledge that the polls are a little overheated and Ryan’s budget is a go.”

6.) Ed Rendell to help sell alternative for-profit college regs — The for-profit college lobbying group Coalition for Educational Success is writing its own regulatory standards that it hopes will supersede the Department of Education’s hotly contested “gainful employment” rules, reports Inside Higher Ed. While the standards won’t be available for another 90 days, IHE expects they “would include more disclosure to prospective students on tuition costs, student debt and job placement, as well as guidelines for financial aid, enrollment and career placement, as well as a way to enforce the regulations.” And to help sell the package, CES has brought renowned charmer and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell on board.

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