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Old November 15th 05, 02:52 PM
Posts: n/a
Default OT Republican Inside Fighting

Here's proof that not ALL republicans are lemmings, some are actually
coming to their senses and realizing Bush is a dimwit:

Red ink creates Republican rift
Bush's ratings, midterm election help bring divisions to surface
Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

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Washington -- Republicans in Congress showed a remarkable unity during
President Bush's first term that helped the White House pass a broad
agenda -- major tax cuts, a Medicare prescription drug benefit and an
overhaul of federal education policy.

But less than a year into the president's second term, major divisions
are appearing in the party that controls power in Washington.

After failing to move the president's top priority, Social Security
reform, and rebuffing his White House counsel for a Supreme Court seat,
the GOP-controlled Congress is engaged in an intraparty feud over how
deeply to cut federal spending, whether to drill for oil in an Alaskan
wildlife refuge and how to pay for extending almost $70 billion in tax

"We are seeing the fissures that have been there all along," said Jack
Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College near Los

Pitney said the combination of the president's low job approval
ratings, growing concern over federal deficits and Republican jitters
over possibly losing seats in next year's midterm congressional
elections is bringing the cracks within the party to the surface.

"You've got a lot more red ink, much worse poll numbers and a president
who is in his second term rather than in his first," Pitney said.
"Inevitably that makes it harder for the president to get his way with

Republicans showed their willingness to buck the president when the
Senate voted 90-9 last month to ban cruel and inhumane treatment of
detainees -- despite a White House threat to veto any bill that would
limit the government's ability to interrogate terrorist suspects.

Much of the debate that has split Republicans in Congress has been
about money: How can the nation pay for hurricane relief, rein in
federal spending to address mounting budget deficits, and renew major
tax cuts at the same time?

In the Senate Finance Committee last week, Republicans were unable to
pass an almost $70 billion tax cut plan when Sen. Olympia Snowe, a
moderate Republican from Maine, balked at extending a tax break on
capital gains and dividends -- which tends to favor wealthier investors
-- at the same time Congress is cutting social programs that benefit
mostly the poor.

In the House, Republican leaders are trying to cool the intraparty
tensions between moderates and conservatives over a budget bill that
would cut $51 billion in federal spending.

House Majority Leader Roy Blunt, R-Mo., postponed a vote on the bill
Thursday after GOP moderates complained it would cut too deeply into
programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, college loans and
foster care. Many conservatives had been pushing for even bigger cuts.

To secure enough votes for passage, Blunt reached a deal with moderates
to drop provisions that would allow drilling in the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and in the outer continental shelf, and to
soften a proposed cut in food stamps for legal immigrants. But the deal
backfired when angry conservative House members said they no longer
could support the package.

Rep. David Dreier, R-San Dimas (Los Angeles County), chairman of the
House Rules Committee and a top deputy to Blunt, said GOP leaders ran
out of time before last week's Veterans Day holiday to persuade enough
members to support the budget bill, which they hope to bring to a vote
this week.

"We're going to continue talking to members ... to address those
concerns," Dreier said. "Because the Democrats have refused to work
with us in this effort, it is going to take more time to get to where
we need to be."

Analysts said Republican moderates and conservatives are feeling more
emboldened to challenge Blunt, who has stepped in as interim leader
while Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, fights charges of criminal conspiracy.
Some Republican members are talking about holding new leadership
elections in January.

"If the substitute teacher can't control the House, then the substitute
teacher doesn't get hired for the full-time job," Pitney said.

The battle in the House is also exposing long-standing divisions
between East Coast Republicans, who tend to be more liberal on issues
of social spending and the environment, and the conservatives who now
dominate the party's leadership in Congress.

"It's the same way it was 14 years ago when I first got here," said
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, the chairman of the House Resources
Committee and a staunch conservative, who was elected two years before
the GOP took control of the House in 1994.

"You have guys that are kind of the old Republican Party, the
establishment in the Northeast, and you have the more populist guys
from the South and the West," he said. "It's a very diverse party, and
for 12 years we have been able to pull it together and get things

After being the minority party for 40 years, Republicans in the House
have been largely successful over the last decade as the majority in
setting aside their differences and backing a common agenda centered on
cutting taxes and bolstering the nation's military defenses.

But Republicans are worried they might not hold onto their majority --
and voting to cut Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps could be used
against some of them next fall.

Pitney said that given the number of incumbents who have been
redistricted into ultra-safe seats, it's going to take a major
anti-incumbent fervor to sweep Republicans back into minority status.

But he added, "A lot of moderates, precisely because of where they come
from, are more skeptical about the prospects for the party's long-term
control of Congress. ... The Republican majority is not that enormous.
An advantage of 20 seats is pretty modest by historical standards, and
a shift of 20 seats would mean a Democratic speaker of the House."

Points of contention
Conservative and moderate Republicans are increasingly at odds with
each other and the White House. Among their recent disagreements:

President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

Opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

How to cut the federal budget without hurting the poor.

The legal rights of detainees in the war on terrorism