3. A lot of Republicans don’t trust the White House.
Granted, some were swept into office as rock-solid conservatives determined to pare the size of government and instinctively opposed to anything Obama likes, but another bloc, the kind whom presidents come to know well, are what Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, calls “governing Republicans.”
Those Republicans helped Obama win big recent fiscal votes. In January, 85 House Republicans voted for the deal to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and raise taxes on the wealthy, while 151 voted no.
Tiberi had committed to voting for the deal, even though it meant higher taxes. Then he saw Obama go on national television, surrounded by supporters, insisting that “revenues have to be part of the equation in turning off the sequester” in a few months.
“He lost a lot of credibility with the Republican governing class,” Tiberi said.
4. People don’t know each other anymore.
Lawmakers used to stay in Washington for weeks and months at a time. Today, the congressional workweek is usually 72 hours and most lawmakers go home on the weekends.
That means people often know each other largely by name, title – and reputation. It means that even in something simple, such as a quick CNN interview, they fight. One day last month, Reps. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., and Trey Radel, R-Fla., stood together to discuss the budget.
Radel, a freshman and tea party favorite, lauded the automatic spending cuts but acknowledged that there were “certain areas where the government can plan a role in terms of including helping the Sandy victims,” a reference to the October hurricane that damaged parts of the Northeast.
Pascrell was livid. “Let’s be honest. . . . You voted against that,” he said, accurately. “You’ve got a heck of a nerve to even suggest to (the anchor) we need to help the Sandy victims when you voted against that.”
Radel said he did vote no, but Pascrell continued to scold him. “This is one country, one nation, and we should concern ourselves with the common good,” Pascrell said. Hours later, he was still railing about the exchange as he spoke to reporters in the House speaker’s lobby.