The big news in Washington today is President Barack Obama’s roll-out of executive orders and proposed Congressional actions in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre last month.
The proposals are being met with an aggressive counterattack from the National Rifle Association, which called Obama a hypocrite for not calling for armed guards in all schools when his own daughters are protected by armed guards at all times. That being the Secret Service. Here’s the ad:
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Decatur, didn’t like this one bit. In a conversation with Your Washington Correspondent today, Johnson said the NRA’s opposition to the Obama proposals — read them all here — is personal and, in part, racially motivated. Said Johnson:
“They are a tool of the free enterprise system and they, like many of their philosophical friends, don’t want any regulations on anything, and they don’t want the federal government to be involved in any area other than the defense of the nation and so that is really what their true colors are.
“They are anti-regulation and they are anti-Obama and they are anti-Democrat.”
A reporter then asked why Johnson thought the NRA was so personally anti-Obama. Said the congressman:
“First of all, first of all, first of all he is a black. And as a black person being the President of the United States, that’s something that they still cannot get over. They couldn’t get over the first election. They’re still shell-shocked at the second election – to use a pun, shell-shocked – and so that’s the first thing.
“Second thing is they know that the president’s economic philosophy is different from theirs. Their economic philosophy is based on Milton Friedman and Ayn Rand, which is no government except for defense, let the free market handle everything.”
So does he think the NRA is racist? Johnson’s answer:
“I think they have invoked racist sensitivities. They are not, they are certainly not free of those kinds of tactics to win their battle. They will gladly confuse people. They will gladly divide people. And so whatever it takes for them to accomplish their objective, which is no limits on firearm use and possession whatsoever. …
“Really the ideas of cowboys and everybody has a weapon and there are no limits, there’s no court system, there’s no justice, everything is just simply handled right there on the spot between the people who disagree with each other — we’re much more civilized than that. And so our society has gotten to the point where we must look at the types of weaponry that is available to the citizenry and whether we want citizens to have those weapons, whether or not there should be any restraints on what types of weapons are available, any regulations at all. That’s what we are dealing with now.”
Johnson said he has reached out to colleagues who are strongly against gun regulations in search of common ground. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee, which would have jurisdiction over potential gun laws.
The interview with Johnson followed a news conference with fellow liberal House Democrats advocating an abolition of the debt ceiling.
Joining with Jim Moran of Virginia, Jerrold Nadler of New York, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and others, Johnson introduced a bill to eliminate the limit — which was born in World War I and has been periodically raised since.
There are bills meant to become law, and there are message bills. This one is the latter, meant to give Obama some support when he refuses to negotiate with Republicans over budget cuts tied to raising the ceiling. The co-sponsors used various grim and violent imagery to describe what Republicans are doing, though they most enjoyed Moran’s chemical weapons-style remark: “What was once a mere legislative relic has now been weaponized.”
The Democrats point out that Congress already controls the purse strings through the budget and appropriations process and does not need to threaten a situation in which some obligations go unpaid — an occasion now due sometime between mid-February and mid-March. Republicans counter that they need all the leverage they can to exact the cuts needed to bring down deficits.
The real question is who will fold. Johnson said this situation is unlike 2011, when Obama did enter budget discussions about the debt ceiling and Congress approved some cuts tied to raising the cap:
“The president does not have to stand for re-election now, he can stand on principle. He was in a tough situation during the original debt ceiling fight and quite frankly he was held over a barrel, and he had to do what he did.
“But those dynamics have changed now. The president has been re-elected. The people have agreed with his analysis of our way forward and his goals in terms of producing economic vitality in our economy, and while at the same time responsibly reducing our debt over the long term.”
- By Daniel Malloy, Political Insider