Spirits were high inside the House chamber on Thursday, November 16, when, in the early afternoon, the gavel fell and a measure to rewrite the American tax code passed on a partisan tally of 227 to 205. As the deciding votes were cast—recorded in green on the black digital scoreboard suspended above the floor—the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, threw his head back and slammed his hands together. Soon he was engulfed in a sea of dark suits, every Republican lawmaker wanting to slap him on the shoulder and be a part of his moment.

Ryan was the man of the hour. Having spent a quarter-century in Washington—as an intern, waiter, junior think-tanker, Hill staffer and, since 1999, as a member of Congress—he had never wavered in his obsession with fixing what he viewed as the nation’s two fundamental weaknesses: its Byzantine tax system and ballooning entitlement state. Now, with House Republicans celebrating the once-in-a-generation achievement of a tax overhaul, Ryan was feeling both jubilant and relieved—and a little bit greedy. Reveling in the afterglow, Ryan remarked to several colleagues how this day had proven they could accomplish difficult things—and that next year, they should set their sights on an even tougher challenge: entitlement reform. The speaker has since gone public with this aspiration, suggesting that 2018 should be the year Washington finally tackles what he sees as the systemic problems with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Tinkering with the social safety net is a bold undertaking, particularly in an election year. But Ryan has good reason for throwing caution to the wind: His time in Congress is running short.

Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with President Donald Trump, Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He consults a small crew of family, friends and staff for career advice, and is always cautious not to telegraph his political maneuvers. But the expectation of his impending departure has escaped the hushed confines of Ryan’s inner circle and permeated the upper-most echelons of the GOP. In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker—fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists—not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.

Ryan was tiring of D.C. even before reluctantly accepting the speakership. He told his predecessor, John Boehner, that it would be his last job in politics—and that it wasn’t a long-term proposition. In the months following Trump’s victory, he began contemplating the scenarios of his departure. More recently, over closely held conversations with his kitchen cabinet, Ryan’s preference has become clear: He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress. This would give Ryan a final legislative year to chase his second white whale, entitlement reform, while using his unrivaled fundraising prowess to help protect the House majority—all with the benefit of averting an ugly internecine power struggle during election season. Ryan has never loved the job; he oozes aggravation when discussing intra-party debates over “micro-tactics,” and friends say he feels like he’s running a daycare center. On a personal level, going home at the end of next year would allow Ryan, who turns 48 next month, to keep promises to family; his three children are in or entering their teenage years, and Ryan, whose father died at 55, wants desperately to live at home with them full-time before they begin flying the nest. The best part of this scenario, people close to the speaker emphasize: He wouldn’t have to share the ballot with Trump again in 2020.

And yet speculation is building that, Ryan, even fresh off his tax-reform triumph, might not be able to leave on his own terms. He now faces a massive pileup of cannot-fail bills in January and February. It’s an outrageous legislative lift: Congress must, in the coming weeks, fund the government, raise the debt ceiling, modify spending caps, address the continuation of health-care subsidies, shell out additional funds for disaster relief and deal with the millions of undocumented young immigrants whose protected status has been thrown into limbo. It represents the most menacing stretch of Ryan’s speakership—one that will almost certainly require him to break promises made to his conference and give significant concessions to Democrats in exchange for their votes. To meet key deadlines, he’ll have to approve sizable spending increases and legal status for minors who came to the U.S. illegally—two things that could raise the ire of the GOP base and embolden his conservative rivals on Capitol Hill. There is no great outcome available, Ryan has conceded to some trusted associates—only survival. “Win the day. Win the next day. And then win the week,” Ryan has been preaching to his leadership team.

The speaker can’t afford to admit he’s a lame-duck—his fundraising capacity and dealmaking leverage would be vastly diminished, making the House all the more difficult to govern. When asked at the end of a Thursday morning press conference if he was leaving soon, Ryan shot a quick “no” over his shoulder as he walked out of the room.

PBS Documentary: Paul Ryan’s Secret 2014 Amnesty Plan Halted at Last Moment


Rep. Paul Ryan was about to announce that he had enough quiet GOP support to pass a nation-changing amnesty bill in June 2014 — but he was blocked when primary voters in Virginia’s 7th district ejected Majority Leader Eric Cantor, according to a PBS documentary.

Ryan and Florida GOP Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart had gradually persuaded a majority of GOP legislators to back a still-secret bill that likely included Ryan’s top priorities — amnesty for nearly all the 11 million illegal immigrants, plus a mechanism to allow companies to hire an unlimited number of foreign workers in place of Americans, including the 4.4 million Americans who turn 18 each year.

If House Speaker John Boehner had scheduled a floor vote, Democrats likely would have backed Ryan’s bill. Once returned to the majority by the subsequent wave of naturalized migrants, the Democrats — as they are now doing in California and in President Barack Obama’s White House — would solidify their power by gradually legalizing more illegal migrants, alongside the almost 1 million legal migrants that are given citizenship each year.

Ryan assembled the list of GOP amnesty supporters, dubbed a “whip count,” after a go-ahead from Boehner.

“In our conversations with folks, we started to whip it, and we were asking ‘Yes? No?’ and we were getting yeses,” Cesar Gonzalez, chief of staff for Diaz-Balert, told the camera. By June 9, “the speaker already knew what our count was,” he said.

“It is Monday June 9th. After months of work, and countless one-on-one conversations, Paul Ryan and Mario Diaz-Balart, have carefully crafted a bill they know the majority of Republicans can agree on,” the voiceover declares on the video, which aired last night.

“They have the votes. They make an appointment to see Boehner, on Thursday,” June 12, says the announcer.

Tuesday, June 10th, primary season is almost over. Washington is slowing down a little. The Diaz-Balart office meets for drinks after work to celebrate their whip-count. Then, is it 9 PM and a piece of news almost unimaginable in Washington breaks – a primary race that no one is even watching. [Rep.] Eric Cantor, the [GOP] House Majority Leader, the guy widely expected to take over Boehner’s job, has just lost his primary to a political unknown.

Dave Brat, the challenger, got a huge campaign boost from conservative radio host, Laura Ingraham adopted him and made a hard line on immigration his main campaign issue… It was Brat’s opposition to immigration that got all the credit.

“Not exactly what we had planned,” Gonzales tells the camera.

“Before the [fall 2014] meltdown the Southwestern border, it is fair to say there was a majority of Republicans who wanted to take it up now,” said South Carolina Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who supported passage of an immigration and foreign-worker bill. “I was absolutely convinced that the Republicans and Democrats in the House wanted to fix the problem,” he said, adding “that’s kind of invigorating.” Companies in Mulvaney’s districtrely heavily on low-wage migrant labor – not American-built machinery – for agricultural work.

Ryan is now trying to win the House Speakership. If he gets the job, he would have the power to introduce and pass a more radical amnesty-and-open-borders bill, including a bill with an “any willing worker” provision that would allow employers to hire foreigners if white-collar and blue-collar Americans decline the wages offered by the employer.

The video-makers closely followed amnesty-advocate Rep. Luis Gutierrez for a year, and filmed meetings between Gutierrez, Diaz-Balert and their staffers, plus allied lobbyists.

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The video-makers made minimal effort to track business’ financial calculations, what the public preferred, or opposition from pro-American legislators and advocates.

The GOP’s business allies strongly back immigration, because it provides them with a pool of new workers, plus a huge stream of new, taxpayer-funded consumers.

In 2013, for example, Obama and the 1965 immigration law added at least 2 million new workers, and perhaps 3 million extra consumers, to the nation’s labor and consumer marketplaces, even as 4.4 million young Americans began looking for jobs.

Wages flatlined, and the percentage of native-born Americans with jobs fell slightly that year. Correspondingly, profits spiked and stock-prices shot up 26 percent, adding $5 trillion in value to Wall Street.

Yet another establishment insider has announced he won’t run for re-election in 2018 – Rep. Jeb Hensarling Won’t Run for Re-election in 2018

by MICHELLE MOONS 31 Oct 2017Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC — Yet another establishment insider has announced he won’t run for re-election in 2018, Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

Tuesday afternoon, Washington Examiner Senior Political Correspondent David Drucker posted news of Hensarling’s retirement:

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House Financial Services Committee Chairman Hensarling issued a statement the same day regarding his retirement:

Today I am announcing that I will not seek reelection to the US Congress in 2018.  Although service in Congress remains the greatest privilege of my life, I never intended to make it a lifetime commitment, and I have already stayed far longer than I had originally planned.

Throughout this time, my family has graciously sacrificed for my service.  As the parents of two teenagers, Melissa and I know there are only a few years left before they leave and make their own way in life.  I want to be there for those years.  Since my term as Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee comes to an end next year, the time seems right for my departure.

Although I will not be running for reelection, there are 14 months left in my congressional term to continue the fight for individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government – the causes for which I remain passionate.  Much work remains at the House Financial Services Committee in the areas of housing finance reform, regulatory relief, cyber security and capital formation to name just a few.  Furthermore, important work remains in the Congress as a whole – especially pro-growth tax reform.   I look forward to continuing this work on behalf of the people of the 5th District of Texas and all Americans.

I am sure we will continue communicating over the months to come, but please know how grateful I am for your help, support and friendship through the years.  I could not be more appreciative of the opportunity to serve our republic and of the trust you have placed in me to advance the principles we share.

In the span of just about a month, Hensarling becomes at least a fourth establishment Republican to either be ousted or announce they will not run for re-election in 2018.

September 26 was the day of a highly contentious Alabama Republican primary election between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s hand-picked Senate appointee Luther Strange and grassroots insurgent Judge Roy Moore. Just hours before polls closed and Moore was declared the winner, establishment Sen. Bob Corker announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. In just one day, establishment picks Strange and Corker were out.

Just under a month later, vehement anti-Trump Senator Jeff Flake made a melodramatic lecture from the floor of the Senate, during which he announced he would not seek re-election in 2018. He admitted he could not win. Flake’s primary challenger Dr. Kelli Ward had already received accolades from President Donald Trump in a tweet that lauded her run against Flake.

Hensarling’s announcement that he will also not seek re-election comes just one week after Flake’s.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers reacted to the news of Hensarling’s retirement:

Jeb Hensarling has been a tremendous public servant for the people of Texas, most recently as the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee on which I am privileged to serve.

Jeb’s strong grasp of policy and his strong conservative principles have been an invaluable asset to the Republican Conference in his eight terms as a Member of the House of Representatives. As Jeb enters this next chapter of life, my colleagues and I wish him the very best in whatever path he chooses to take.

In March, as one of Speaker Paul Ryan’s attempts are repealing and replacing Obamacare failed, Hensarling offered what Reuters described as “effusive” praise of Ryan. In April Hensarling joined Ryan and several other Representatives on a trip to Europe with the stated goal of “strengthening economic and security ties with our NATO partners.” Hensarling has been called on and floated as a possibility in the past to run a challenge to John Boehner, and later Ryan, for the position of Speaker of the House, but has refused to do so. In November 2016 the Texas Tribune called Hensarling “one of Ryan’s closest friends in the House.”

Drunk John Boehner Unloads on Conservatives, Lets Slip Private Conversations with George W. Bush About Paul Ryan’s Incapabilities

by MATTHEW BOYLE 30 Oct 2017

A drunken ex-House Speaker John Boehner unloaded on House conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and let slip private conversations with former President George W. Bush about his successor, Paul Ryan’s, ineffectiveness as Speaker of the House in a lengthy Politico profile published on Sunday.

Boehner, over the course of multiple interviews with Politico’s Tim Alberta, allegedly got drunk for one interview — and told the magazine writer about a private text message exchange he had with Bush about Ryan.

In the profile that spanned thousands of words, Alberta noted that Boehner generally lived by the words “Nothing good happens after 10 p.m.” Alberta had been spending time with Boehner in his old congressional district in Ohio at a golf tournament, raising money for a local Boys & Girls Club chapter, and one night, Boehner stood by his rule of going to bed early.

“In a capital city where booze flows freely and parties run late and lawmakers live away from spouses, he decided long ago it would behoove him to be in bed by 10 o’clock,” Alberta wrote:

This also allowed him to rise early, take his long walk for coffee, wolf down some eggs at his favorite greasy spoon and read the newspapers before work. Retirement has meant adjustments—Boehner makes his own breakfast and spends his days dialing into conference calls, giving paid speeches or doing housework—but one constant remains: asleep by 10. On my first night in Ohio, just as the conversations were getting loose and the cocktails were getting stiff, Boehner informed the patio crowd he was turning in. It was 9:45.

The next night, however, Boehner stayed up long past 10 p.m. — and drunkenly opened up to Alberta about private conversations with Bush, the former president, about Ryan, his successor as speaker.

“After the golf outing, and a reception in the clubhouse, Boehner hopped in his customized golf cart—a retirement gift from his congressional colleagues—and zipped across three moonlit fairways and into his driveway,” Alberta wrote. “I figured it was time to say goodnight. But Boehner invited me in for a nightcap. What followed, over bottomless glasses of wine, can only be described as Boehner unshackled.”

Over the objections of his wife, Debbie, who at times tried to block Alberta’s recorder with a pillow, Boehner told Alberta a lot of information he probably should not have, including that Bush had reservations about Ryan’s ability to effectively lead as speaker of the House.

Here is Alberta writing about what happened next, intermixed with quotes from Boehner, his wife, and one of Boehner’s friends:

On several occasions, Debbie warned him to stop telling me things; when he ignored her, she would put a couch cushion over my recording device. The highlight was Boehner telling me a story about George W. Bush—and prefacing it by saying, “I shouldn’t tell you this.” Debbie, opening a bottle of red in the kitchen, barked: “Then don’t!”

Boehner leans back in his favorite recliner, retrieving a glowing cigarette from its ashtray. “So I get a text from 43 about a month ago, maybe six weeks ago.” Boehner’s close friend Ed, who joined our nightcap, interjects: “Off the record?” Boehner waves him off: “It doesn’t matter.” He lets out a thick cough, smoke escaping his mouth, and continues. “So 43 says, ‘Hey, are you talking to Ryan? Are you giving him advice?’ I said, ‘Yeah, if he calls I give him advice.’” Boehner takes a long, satisfied drag. “And he texts me back: ‘He needs to call you more.’”

Boehner erupts into a long, uncontrollable cough-laugh. It is 10:40 p.m.

The remarkable piece from Alberta details how Boehner has concern for “the well-being of his successor.”

“Ryan never wanted the job; it took Boehner more than a year to convince him, and there were drastic measures involved,” Alberta wrote:

When McCarthy abruptly decided he would not run for speaker, everyone knew Ryan was the only unifying choice. And Boehner knew which buttons to push: The speaker called Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, asking him to pressure Ryan. Dolan obliged, phoning the congressman and piling on more of the “Catholic guilt” Boehner had employed. It worked, of course. But it’s clear Boehner feels a little guilt himself. Ryan now holds the thankless job he was desperate to escape, and finds himself buffeted by the same internal forces.

The piece, for which Alberta also interviewed both Ryan and fellow former House Speaker and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, foreshadows looming peril for Ryan’s grip on the job that puts him third in the presidential line of succession. Ryan even confirmed in his own interviews with Alberta that he is not happy as speaker.

Alberta wrote:

Even before Trump was elected, Boehner was back in the Capitol one day and visited the speaker’s office. Ryan, he says, looked at him wearily: “This job is a lot harder than I thought.” When I ask Ryan about this, he confirms the story and laughs. “And I wanted to say, ‘You ass, you stuck me with this sh—’” He stops himself. But it’s been a tough day, and the speaker needs to vent. “Just getting people to agree on how to do things that are in their own interest is hard to do. Getting people to agree, getting to consensus, on things that are basic and axiomatic, is really hard to do,” Ryan tells me. “You need more of a degree in psychology than you need in economics.” (Ryan has, however, found comfort in torturing Boehner: The speaker inherited his predecessor’s security detail, and whereas Boehner demanded they be freshly shaven every day, Ryan let them grow unruly beards—pictures of which are often texted to their former boss, code name “Tan Man.”)

Throughout the piece, Alberta captures Boehner’s disdain for conservatives — particularly the Freedom Caucus. Boehner has a special hatred for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), the founding chairman of the Freedom Caucus, but also attacks current chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) — whose actions in 2015 paved the way for Boehner’s demise.

Boehner, when it was noted that Jordan and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) may seek the chairmanship of the House Oversight Committee when now-former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) announced he was leaving, praised Gowdy as his “guy” and said, “Fuck Jordan.” He also called Jordan a “legislative terrorist.”

Alberta wrote:

Breaking the ice, I mention some news of the day—that Trey Gowdy appears likely to become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The previous chairman, Jason Chaffetz, had abruptly announced his resignation from Congress; House conservatives had hoped that Jim Jordan, a senior member on the committee, might pursue the chairmanship. Boehner grins. “Gowdy—that’s my guy, even though he doesn’t know how to dress,” he says. Then Boehner leans back in his chair. “Fuck Jordan. Fuck Chaffetz. They’re both assholes.”

And away we go.

Boehner’s beef with Chaffetz, who would later join Fox News as a paid contributor, is not personal—just that he’s a “total phony” who possessed legislative talent but focused mostly on self-promotion. “With Chaffetz,” Boehner says, “it’s always about Chaffetz.”

His problems with Jordan, the founding chairman of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, run much deeper. To Boehner and his allies, Jordan was the antagonist in the story of his speakership—an embodiment of the brinkmanship and betrayal that roiled the House Republican majority and made Boehner’s life miserable. Although he would tell me in later conversations that he holds no grudges against anyone, today Boehner unloads on his fellow Ohioan. “Jordan was a terrorist as a legislator going back to his days in the Ohio House and Senate,” Boehner says. “A terrorist. A legislative terrorist.”

The piece walks through a deep history of hatred Boehner has for Jordan, given Jordan’s leading role in pushing members of the House GOP conference to back conservative legislation when Boehner did not want to, and then it gets to his hatred for Meadows.

Jordan, in his own interview with Politico, fired back mocking the ex-speaker — and fired a warning shot at the current speaker, Ryan, who is quickly losing GOP support in much the same way as Boehner.

“Oh, my goodness,” Jordan said. “I feel sorry for the guy if he’s that bitter about a guy coming here and doing what he told the voters he was gonna do. Wow. I feel bad for him.” He added, “But in the end, we were not doing what the voters elected us to do and what we told them we were going to do. We just weren’t. And I would argue the same thing is happening now.”

The hatred Boehner holds for Meadows seems to be less significant than what he holds for Jordan. After explaining that Meadows put forward a measure that eventually forced Boehner to resign, Alberta notes that Boehner still hates Meadows: “Boehner is still angry with Meadows, who canceled an interview for this article, for putting him in that position: ‘He’s an idiot. I can’t tell you what makes him tick.’”

Meadows’ Deputy Chief of Staff Wayne King fired back in a tweet after the article was posted:

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But even though Boehner is angry with Meadows and Jordan, this piece — years later — seems to confirm one of the underlying reasons Meadows first went forward with the motion to vacate the chair that eventually forced Boehner to resign: Boehner was secretly working with Democrats, led by Pelosi, to keep his grip on power. In fact, Alberta uncovered time-stamped documents that prove—by Boehner’s team’s own admission—that Pelosi would have given him Democrat votes to keep the speakership had it come down to another vote before Boehner resigned in disgrace to avoid embarrassment.

Alberta obtained the document titled “Save the Institution” and time-stamped September 16, 2015—just a few days before Boehner eventually cracked—and in it was a detailed plan from Boehner’s chief of staff Mike Sommers’ outlining the secret deal with Pelosi.

Sommers, in the memo, explained to Boehner—per Alberta—“that his survival would be ensured if Pelosi had Democratic members vote ‘present’ when the motion came up. If they did, Boehner could win with a simple majority of Republican votes cast—which was never in doubt, as the number of GOP defectors was between 20 and 40.”

Pelosi, in a meeting with Boehner, agreed to the terms. “In a subsequent meeting, Boehner broached the idea with Pelosi and she agreed,” Alberta wrote.

Pelosi confirmed the secret Boehner deal in an interview with Alberta. “You can’t have 30 people in your caucus decide they’re going to vacate the chair,” Pelosi said. “He knew I had—not his back, but the institution’s back.”

Boehner, per Alberta, looks back on it and does not think it was the right thing to do.

“It would be awful for the institution,” Boehner said. “We hadn’t gone through this in 100 years. All these Republicans were going to get crap at home for supporting me, only to have me leave soon after that.”

Another theme of this remarkable Boehner profile is that it captures the story of someone who came to Congress by running against the establishment and fighting against the grain—Boehner was not always part of the institution—only to become one of the establishment’s biggest defenders.

“He came to Congress wanting to burn it to the ground,” Sommers, Boehner’s former chief of staff, told Alberta. “And by the time he left, he was the ultimate institutionalist.”



Written by Elaina Plott | Published on July 26, 2017

If you hang around Twitter on a day when President Trump does something especially head-turning and Paul Ryan goes especially quiet, you’ll likely encounter some quip about how blissful John Boehner must be. Smoking cigars. Sipping Merlot. Mowing his lawn. The former House speaker has become a meme for a man unburdened.

There’s no such narrative around Eric Cantor, the former Republican House majority leader from Richmond who was spectacularly ousted in his 2014 primary by a no-name economics professor. “There’s no denying that he misses all of it,” says Cantor’s former deputy chief of staff, John Murray—a sentiment the ex-congressman himself confirms. When he talks to Boehner, Cantor tells me, Boehner will say something to the effect of “I am so glad I’m not there dealing with those mm-mm-mms”—those pesky Freedom Caucus members whom many in the GOP hold responsible for sparking the party’s new populist flavor and egging on the anger that led to Trump’s election. Not Cantor. “I never felt like that,” he says.

The 54-year-old now sits on several boards and is managing director of Moelis & Company, a boutique investment firm in New York. His work takes him to Davos and Dubai and Tokyo, often just about anywhere but Washington or his old district. It also pays handsomely more. But Cantor is still painstakingly abreast of what’s going on in the Capitol, texting often with members such as Kevin McCarthy, his successor, and Patrick McHenry, chief deputy whip, to offer advice and then popping up on cable news to reassure Republicans that the party is just going through “growing pains.” The day the House voted on Obamacare’s replacement, Cantor chuckled at reports that former majority leader Tom DeLay was loitering near the speaker’s lobby, cigar in hand, to monitor the vote. Yet it’s safe to say that, mentally if not physically, Cantor was there, too.

If Boehner’s current profile is accurate—the warden held hostage by his own inmates, free at last—Cantor’s is the opposite, the second-in-command consumed by his role in making the Republican Party feel like a prison to begin with. What’s strange is that for all his clear-eyed ruminations about where he helped steer the party establishment wrong, he seems to believe that doing more of the same is all it’ll take to get it back on track.


Let’s back up a moment. Remember the summer of 2013, when the “Defund Obamacare Tour” drove the news cycle all through Congress’s August recess? The town halls organized by the political arm of the Heritage Foundation enlivened the base and furthered what had been the GOP’s core message since 2010—that Obamacare was bad and, if Americans helped Republicans hold both chambers, it could be repealed.

Cantor helped create that perception. Earlier that summer—after many failed attempts over the years to shred the law piecemeal—Cantor promised colleagues that the House would vote on a “full repeal.” But even after it did, the measure was dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Cantor—in Congress 13 years and, fairly or unfairly, once thought to be above electoral reproach—paid the price. His 2014 avenger, now-congressman David Brat, bludgeoned him for being soft on Obamacare, among other things. But the failure to make a dent in the law landed a bigger blow on the party. After seven years of pledging they could dismantle Obamacare, if only they had control of Congress and the White House, Republicans—at last in charge of both—have faced deep divisions over a replacement.

Asked if he feels partly responsible for their current predicament, Cantor is unequivocal. “Oh,” he says, “100 percent.”

He goes further: “To give the impression that if Republicans were in control of the House and Senate, that we could do that when Obama was still in office . . . .” His voice trails off and he shakes his head. “I never believed it.”

He says he wasn’t the only one aware of the charade: “We sort of all got what was going on, that there was this disconnect in terms of communication, because no one wanted to take the time out in the general public to even think about ‘Wait a minute—that can’t happen.’ ” But, he adds, “if you’ve got that anger working for you, you’re gonna let it be.”

It’s a stunning admission from a former member of the party leadership—that the linchpin of GOP electoral strategy for the better part of a decade was a fantasy, a flame continually fanned solely because, when it came to midterm elections, it worked. (Barring, of course, his own.)

His sojourn in the private sector has helped him see that. At Moelis, Cantor lends his Rolodex and his years on the Financial Services Committee to help the bank land accounts including Saudi Aramco—expected to be the world’s largest IPO—and giving Moelis name recognition it didn’t have three years ago.

“I see how [mergers-and-acquisitions] deals work and how companies go through processes making decisions when they decide to allocate shareholder capital,” he says. “They’ve got a vision of where their next target may be . . . and most of the times it is not a hostile situation [but] an agreeable one. They’ve got to . . . realize when the time is right to then advance to the next step. There’s something about the deliberateness and the thoughtfulness involved. That’s not necessarily how politics works. It’s a lot more extreme and back and forth.”

It’s far easier to cop to political gamesmanship when out of office. But Cantor says if he could do it over again, he wouldn’t have bought into this “expectation . . . that says if it’s not everything, then it can’t be conservative.” He pauses. “That’s a perspective I’ve gained.”


Yet here’s the other shocker: despite all that, Cantor’s read of how party leadership is navigating the current landscape is nothing short of sanguine.

While he won’t go so far as to say Trump’s presidency has been a “disaster,” as Boehner recently put it, Cantor admits he’s less than charmed by the state of the West Wing: “The lack of humility right now in the system is striking to me. I’m worried about Trump’s rhetoric. . . . If things keep going like they are now without any real progress, it’s a problem for electoral victories for our party.”

But strikingly, he won’t criticize House speaker Paul Ryan or others for not demanding a new course. Cantor does say that, were he speaker, he would “answer the questions I’m asked,” a subtle dig at Ryan’s penchant for evading Trump-related questions from the podium. But that’s as pointed as he’ll get.

Why not demand more from leadership? For one thing, Cantor is convinced that the party’s current state—the fury roiling the base and the White House alike—is an aberration. He calls the moment an “anger detour,” which sounds less like a label for a larger GOP identity crisis and more like an inconvenient square in Candy Land.

His position, however, reflects that of many in the establishment—that a pro-immigration, pro-market strain of conservatism, the one Cantor championed at the end of his tenure, is still the future of the party. It’s why he helped raise funds for Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign even after his own primary defeat was seen by many to be the first sign of a populist wave to come. It’s why Cantor continues to believe that President Trump, his policies, and the discontent that wrought them are mere hiccups and that at some point they’ll all cycle out.

“It’s very captivating to a lot of people right now because of the extremes of the language, of the Twitter, of the activity, and it’s just . . . it’s really a lot about showmanship,” he says. “It could end up to all be a lot of steam that, in the end, the implementation will be a lot more consistent with what I think the party’s about.”

His logic assumes that political parties grow and change in the same way that, say, caterpillars metamorphose—organically and predictably. Perhaps in the last couple of decades, they have. But if the previous two years have reminded us of anything, it’s that parties are made up of individuals with the agency to reject the sameness prescribed by institutional monoliths and the career politicians who lead them. For the moment, those career politicians—Ryan, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell—have been amenable to the disruption, suddenly equivocating on long-held establishment views regarding issues such as trade. Which makes Cantor’s point that much more difficult to absorb: How, exactly, can the party cycle out of something when its leaders publicly insist everything is just fine?

He doesn’t have an answer for that. “Being in a leadership position is hard,” he says. “Paul’s got a really tough challenge right now. Really, really tough.”

Cantor may be fuzzy on the details of getting there, but he knows what normality would look like. For him, it’s acknowledging that, undesirable as something in the system might be vis-à-vis, say, health care or welfare, sweeping changes can do more harm than good—an incrementalist manifestation of conservatism touted by Edmund Burke, that 18th-century British Parliament crush of modern American conservatives.

Where Cantor used to be chided as the prince of political crazes, oscillating in his pet issues depending on party mood, he’s now unequivocal that “global supply chains interconnect,” that they’re “here” and “not going away.” He says “our country is one of immigrants,” that “we don’t hold kids liable for their parents’ illegal acts.”

Never mind that these are beliefs that the most Republican primary voters in history rejected just last year. All it takes, Cantor will tell you, is for party leadership to do what it’s been doing—to keep quiet, hold its breath, and watch the party return from the anger detour.

But what if he’s wrong?

“God help us,” Cantor says. “Because how does it end?”



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By Robert Costa July 25 at 6:00 AM

Former House speaker John A. Boehner, who has mostly avoided public commentary since leaving Congress two years ago, told a business gathering last week that Republicans are “not going to repeal and replace Obamacare” because “the American people have gotten accustomed to it.”

“Here we are, seven months into this year, and yet they’ve not passed this bill. Now, they’re never — they’re not going to repeal and replace Obamacare,” Boehner told a private crowd in Las Vegas, according to video footage obtained by The Washington Post. “It’s been around too long. And the American people have gotten accustomed to it. Governors have gotten accustomed to this Medicaid expansion, and so trying to pull it back is really not going to work.”

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Boehner said the Republicans’ best hope in the coming months is to peel away aspects of the law, such as some tax provisions and regulations, and to end health insurance mandates.

“When it’s all said and done, you’re not going to have an employer mandate anymore, you’re not going to have the individual mandate,” Boehner said. “The Medicaid expansion will be there. The governors will have more control over their Medicaid populations and how to get them care, and a lot of Obamacare taxes will probably go.”

Boehner’s remarks diverge from the positions of President Trump and congressional Republican leaders, who are still pushing for legislation to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and scale back Medicaid. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is planning to hold a vote on beginning debate on GOP health-care legislation as soon as Tuesday.

Boehner’s statements were made July 21 at ThoughtSpot, a trade show hosted by Good Neighbor Pharmacy at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Videos of his appearance were obtained by The Post from a person who requested anonymity to share the clips.

A Boehner spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

As Boehner sat on the dais in an expansive ballroom, he also shared frank observations about the president and his party. The former Ohio lawmaker’s outlook echoed the frustrations of many Republicans on Capitol Hill, although those views are usually expressed in closed settings.

Boehner warned that the GOP’s infighting, despite having control of Congress and the White House, could have dire political consequences for the party. If Republicans fail to pass legislation on health care, taxes and infrastructure, “they’re going to get annihilated” in next year’s midterm elections, he said.

Boehner described Trump as a “friend of mine. We’ve played a lot of golf together over the years. He was a donor of mine.” But he said he never expected Trump to win the presidency and has been discouraged by how he has handled parts of the job.

“I never really saw him as president. You all know what I mean,” Boehner said as audience members chuckled.

Boehner urged him to “quit tweeting” and avoid spats with media personalities like the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“He keeps getting in his own way,” Boehner told the attendees.

“I mean, going after Mika Brzezinski or Joe Scarborough? What the hell is the point?” he asked, referring to Trump’s social-media assault of Brzezinski last month.

Boehner said Trump’s seemingly nonstop battles with news organizations were unwise distractions for him and the party — and risky.

“You never get into a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel. He does it every day.” Boehner said, adding, “Never get into a p—ing match with a skunk. He does it every day.”

“It may have worked during the campaign. But I think he would do himself well if he would just slow the tweeting down and just focus on what he’s doing and not being critical,” Boehner said.

Boehner went on to tell the group that cutting bipartisan deals in Washington is now all but impossible due to the way negotiations unfold in the media. Any interaction with a Democrat risks being covered by conservative outlets as a potential betrayal of the GOP, he said.

Boehner blamed figures on the right who purchase lists of conservative activists and then position themselves as leaders of a movement. He said talks between party leaders can be ruined by “one person who creates a committee to preserve the Constitution” and can “blast out information quickly.”

“You used to have a little breathing room — 24 hours, 48 hours before it actually got in the press. Well, that’s gone. Everything today is instant,” he said.

Boehner recalled that when he used to visit President Obama, he would frequently “sneak into” the White House to avoid being seen by reporters.

“If I didn’t sneak in, if I went in like I would normally go in, the right-wing press would go crazy. ‘What is Boehner up to?’ The left-wing press would go just as crazy. ‘What is Obama doing? He’s going to let Boehner roll him again.’ You’re dead before you even have an agreement,” he said.

Boehner pointed to the fragmentation of the national media as another reason for the paralysis and what he sees as alarming intensity and partisanship in politics.

“What’s making everything even worse today is because we have so much news, people get to choose where they get their news,” Boehner said. “It used to be we had three big TV networks, five big newspapers, and five big radio stations and whatever they said was the news. Everybody else followed what they do.”


“They go to places that they agree with, reinforcing the divide that we have in the country already,” he said.

“These radio talk show guys, they carry on, it’s just nonsense,” Boehner said. “Some of these people who run these big blogs, the kind of stuff they put out, I would also disagree with.”

Turning back to health care, Boehner acknowledged that his candor may not be appreciated by Republican leadership on Capitol Hill. The last time he made headlines, his successor, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), sent him a dismayed text.

“Gee, thanks,” Boehner said, reciting what Ryan texted him.


Private investments seized to save Obamacare

| Infowars.com – FEBRUARY 28, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Two lawsuits proceeding through the federal courts threaten to expose and disrupt a scheme the Obama administration concocted in 2012 to confiscate all the profits from Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac – the government’s two mortgage giants – with a plan to divert billions of dollars to pay essential Obamacare insurance subsidies that Congress had refused to fund.

On July 9, 2013, Fairholme Funds, Inc., a mutual fund that held preferred stock issued by the Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly known as “Fannie Mae,” and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, commonly known as “Freddie Mac,” filed suit against the U.S. government in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, seeking “just compensation” under the Fifth Amendment for their property when the Obama administration, in the so-called “Net Worth Sweep” of 2012, confiscated all Fannie and Freddie profits.

In 2008, when the economy went into recession over the collapse of the subprime mortgage market, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, HERA, to save Fannie and Freddie by a federal bailout that placed the two Government Sponsored Entities, GSEs, into government conservatorship, with the U.S. Treasury recapitalizing Fannie and Freddie by issuing to the GSEs $187.5 billion in senior preferred stock with a 10% dividend designed to repay the U.S. Treasury over time.

But in 2012, when Fannie and Freddie became profitable, as the mortgage market returned with rigorous credit underwriting and a zero-interest rate environment maintained by the Federal Reserve, the Obama administration initiated a “Net Worth Sweep,” designed to confiscate 100% of the profits generated by Fannie and Freddie.

The result was that private shareholders like Fairholme Funds were paid nothing on their Fannie and Freddie stock.

In August 2012, the Obama administration engineered an amendment to the Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements creating a variable dividend that allowed the U.S. Treasury to grab all Fannie and Freddie profits, regardless how large Fannie and Freddie’s earnings might be.

In 2016, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer, in the case U.S. House of Representatives v. Burwell, ruled the Department of Health and Human Services could not use taxpayer dollars to pay Obamacare insurance subsidies Congress refused to fund.

To solve this problem, the Obama administration defied the District Court by diverting profits confiscated from Fannie and Freddie to pay the Obamacare insurance subsidies Congress had refused to fund.

To block the progress of the Fairholme lawsuit, the Obama administration asserted executive privilege, seeking to withhold some 77,945 documents from the public view, including some 12,251 documents the government wanted completely withheld (even from the federal court).

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit asserted the government’s purpose in seeking to keep the documents secret was to conceal the government’s motives in seizing from private and institutional shareholders their stock dividends in Fannie and Freddie the government wanted to seize.

“The government has asserted the information could be ‘disruptive to markets.’ However, it is difficult to imagine how discussions by officials as far back as eight years ago and emails on matters as mundane as daily press clips could impact today’s markets, which, by definition operate on the very latest information,” wrote constitutional law scholar John Yoo. “Executive privilege is available for presidents to use in highly sensitive matters, and its use is constrained by specific procedures.”

“In the pending litigation on the Net Worth Sweep, the government has applied this privilege in an overly broad and unjustified manner,” Yoo continued. “Either federal officials are trying to cover up something they know is illegal, or we are witnessing an unprecedented and disturbing obsession with secrecy.”

On Oct. 4, 2016, Judge Margaret M. Sweeney of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C., gave her first order demanding the release of some of the documents that the government sought to withhold – documents the New York Times reported reached “the highest levels of the Obama administration.”

The New York Times further reported the government initially had argued that in seizing Fannie and Freddie, it had acted to protect taxpayers from future losses because the companies were in “a death spiral” and taxpayers needed protection from future losses.

But documents Judge Sweeney forced to be released made clear the government moved to seize all earnings of Fannie and Freddie just before the two mortgage giants were about to become profitable.

Fairholme and the other plaintiffs in the case had asked Judge Sweeney to review a sample of 56 documents in the case to determine if the government had a legitimate argument to seal the documents.

After her review, Judge Sweeney ruled that the documents should be released because Fairholme had an “overwhelming” need for the documents and no other source of available evidence “would similarly inform their understanding” of the events surrounding the profit sweep.

On Jan. 30, 2017  a three-judge panel for of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the federal circuit ruled unanimously that 48 of the 56 documents were not privileged, but should be released to the plaintiffs.

In writing their order, the three-judge panel expressed sympathy for the plaintiffs’ argument that the documents the government sought to seal would reveal (if made public) that Fannie and Freddie were not in a threat of a “death spiral” to insolvency when the Net Worth Sweep was ordered by the government in 2012.

Instead, the three-judge panel suggested the respondents should have access to the 48 documents in their attempt to prove the GSEs were reporting substantial profits at the time that were more than sufficient to cover the Treasury’s original 10% dividend guarantee and potentially to pay dividends to the other shareholders as well.

At issue was the plaintiff’s argument the Treasury appropriated the stock held by private investors to generate what the Treasury knew would be a massive return on the investment to the government.

FannieFreddieSecrets.org, a website created to make easily readable the documents Judge Sweeney through a series of rulings starting in October 2016, has revealed public archives and a deposition from Susan McFarland, Fannie’s former chief financial officer, from July 2015.

In her deposition, McFarland refuted projections made by Grant Thornton, the accounting firm the government had hired to do a financial analysis on Fannie and Freddie, speculating that Fannie Mae was going to lose $13 billion in 2012, the year in which the Obama administration decided to start confiscating Fannie and Freddie earnings.

McFarland revealed in the deposition that she had told high-level officials at the Treasury on Aug. 8, 2012, that the company (Fannie Mae) was “now in a sustainable profitability, that we would be able to deliver sustainable profits over time.”  McFarland added that while Fannie was “not there yet,” she as financial officer “could see positive things occurring.”

A letter from then Secretary of the Treasury Jacob L. Lew, addressed to then House Speaker John Boehner dated May 17, 2013, also rejects the government contention the Fannie and Freddy were in “a death spiral” at the time of government confiscation.

In the letter, written at a time when the Treasury was preparing to engage in “extraordinary measures” because Congress had not yet authorized an increase in the statutory debt limit, Lew explained to then-House Speaker Boehner that Treasury had just learned “last week” that it was anticipating a payment of $60 billion from Fannie Mae to be delivered on June 28, 2013.

In another document unsealed by Judge Sweeney, a Grant Thornton, purportedly showing Freddie Mac’s deteriorating financial condition, contained a marginal note handwritten by an unidentified Grant Thornton employee, saying: “3 yrs. of cum. profits, you start to think about releasing the valuation allow. The valuation allow. When probably 2013, 2014.”

In the second case, originally filed as Perry Capital LLC vs. Lew (now, Perry Capital LLC, for and on behalf of Investment Funds for which it acts as investment manager, Appellant v. Steven T. Mncuhin, in his official capacity as the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury, Et Al., Appellees) the investment manager Perry Capital LLC sued the Treasury Department over the decision made in the “Net Worth Sweep” of 2012, and specifically the decision made on August 17, 2012, through which the Obama administration succeeded in engineering an amendment to the Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements that resulted in the private and institutional shareholders of Fannie and Freddie being shut off from receiving future dividends on their Fannie and Freddie stock.

On Feb. 21, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled the Obama administration had acted within its authority under HERA.

While this decision was widely viewed as a victory for the government, the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals was very narrow, arguing only that the statutory claims of Perry Capital LLC were barred by the Recovery Act’s strict limitation on judicial review.

Instead of dismissing the plaintiffs’ claims, the Circuit Court remanded the case to the lower District Court to litigate contract-based claims regarding their rights as shareholders to have received Fannie and Freddie dividends.

Translated into ordinary English, the Circuit Court punted, sending the case back to the District Court where the Perry’s contractual claims regarding the rights of shareholders to receive dividends could be properly litigated at trial.

In what has become a complicated case, legal analysts still maintain that at the District Court level, Perry LLC stands an excellent chance to force the Treasury “to return the money, which it had no right to receive in the first place.”