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from The Great Debate:

How far right can Republicans go?

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to supporters during a campaign stop at the Lexington Airport in Lexington, Kentucky

The line between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party has blurred.  That spells trouble for the GOP in the long run.  Possibly this year, more likely in 2016.

It might not look like it right now. The Republican establishment, which has been on the defensive since the Tea Party emerged in 2009, is on a roll. Establishment candidates have won contested primaries in North Carolina, Florida and now Kentucky and Georgia.  Republican voters seem to be turning away from the kinds of fringe candidates they went for in 2010 and 2012,  like Christine O'Donnell in Delaware (“I am not a witch”) and Todd Akin in Missouri (“legitimate rape”). Candidates like that cost Republicans their chance to take back control of the U.S. Senate.

So this year, the party stands a good chance of taking over the Senate and expanding its majority in the House of Representatives.  The Obama era is over!

Oh, wait.  Barack Obama is still president.  And the Republican Party's long-term problems are far from resolved.  For one thing, the party's good fortune this year is mostly the result of temporary advantages:  -- Democratic Senate seats up for grabs in strongly Republican states; Democrats defending House seats they won narrowly in 2012.

from The Great Debate:

Reasons to miss the political bosses

CREDIT: Matt Mahurin

The late Democratic Senator George S. McGovern and today’s Republican Tea Party activists might not have a great deal to say to each other -- they both represented their party’s extremes. For that very reason, however they have one thing in common: Their rise to prominence defied the wishes of their respective party’s establishment.

Forced to fling open the doors to their smoke-filled back rooms, party leaders no longer possess their once-vaunted power over the careers of would-be presidents, governors, county legislators, and even, yes, the occasional dog-catcher.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Enlightening the puzzled Republicans

Moderate Republicans cannot fathom what has happened to their party.

Once a happy band of no-nonsense, pro-business conservatives, cautious in everything from money to marriage -- including their wary response to the onward march of 1960s liberal social values -- they were prepared, within reason, to trim their policies to match the voters’ mood. After all, to achieve anything in government you first have to win elections.

But that was before the revival in fundamental conservatism that has turned the GOP from a pragmatic party to a collection of inward-looking ideological tribes. Republicans puzzled by the rise of dogma and division in their party can find answers in a new survey that explains how large the factions are and what they think. They will be surprised by the findings.

from The Great Debate:

Democrats: It’s the states, stupid (Part 2)

ILLUSTRATION: Matt Mahurin

Since the government shutdown, public opinion of the Republican Party has hit a new low. Yet the Democrats might not be able to gain from it. Despite the GOP’s fall from grace -- and even if they suffer a lower vote count in the 2014 midterm elections -- the Republicans might still control the House of Representatives and many state legislatures after the polls close.

Our Constitution is unique in that it gives state legislatures virtually complete control over how we elect the president and Congress. In other democracies, the national government runs elections, usually through an impartial commission. Our system, however, lets the party that controls the state legislatures manipulate election rules to help itself and harm its opponents in both the state and House races.

from Barbara Kiviat:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not the same thing as American business

I don't understand why everyone is so surprised to find out that large corporations are funneling massive amounts of money to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Last week's NYT report has been making the Internet rounds, and while I appreciate the point that the Chamber is much more partisan than its non-profit status would suggest—70 of the Chamber's 93 midterm campaign ads either support Republican candidates or attack their opponents, despite the Chamber's promise to the Federal Election Commission that it only talks about issues—there's also a curious amount of wonderment at big-company donations. Yes, Wall Street firms sent millions of dollars to the Chamber when financial re-regulation was on the table, and the insurance industry got out its checkbook when it was time to talk healthcare reform. Why would anyone be surprised?

The more counterintuitive and telling story, which the Times only flicks at, is how unsatisfied certain businesspeople are growing with the U.S. Chamber. A couple of weeks ago, New Hampshire's Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce decided to break ties with the national organization, because, in the words of the Nashua Telegraph:

from Tales from the Trail:

Pelosi takes on Chamber of Commerce over campaign spending

The phrase "Buy American"  may be taking on a new connotation in the rough-and-tumble battle over corporate financing and the midterm congressional elections.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has been pumping lots of cash into the campaign, received multimillion dollar donations from some major companies as it fought against government policies, the New York Times reported Thursday.

from Tales from the Trail:

Bejeebers! A scary fiscal outlook and Tea Party politics

Tackling huge budget deficits and growing debt is essential for the United States to avoid a financial market crisis that would push interest rates higher and severely damage the U.S. economy, many economists have warned.

Compromise and statesmanship will be needed to cut spending and raise revenues to narrow the budget gap, and that might not be possible inUSA-ELECTIONS/TEAPARTY the current political environment, says at least one experienced budget expert.

from Tales from the Trail:

Butchers offer financial services? “Completely false,” says Obama

President Barack Obama started his day by learning he had won the Nobel Peace Prize,  but that didn't stop him from quickly turning downright prickly.

After a meeting with Americans who had been ripped off by the financial system, Obama on Friday said big banks and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce were trying to block some of his efforts at financial regulatory reform.

from Environment Forum:

U.S. chamber wants Scopes trial on climate change

The biggest business lobby in the United States wants to hold a public hearing "to put the science of global warming on trial," The Los Angeles Times reports.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, trying to drive back major emission limits, wants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to hold the hearing on evidence that climate change is man-made.

from Financial Regulatory Forum:

Delays drag as Obama financial reforms advance

U.S. President Barack Obama By Kevin Drawbaugh
WASHINGTON, July 21 (Reuters) - The Obama administration's plan to form a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a central part of its bold regulatory reform agenda, sailed onto the shoals of congressional delay.
Under attack from banking and business lobbyists, the CFPA proposal will not be drafted and voted on as planned next week at the committee level, said the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee handling the measure.

Instead, a bill-drafting session will be held in September, after Congress' summer recess, giving lawmakers more time to take a closer look at it, said Democratic Representative Barney Frank, committee chairman and an administration ally.

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