top of page

With GOP Out Of Power, Corporations Once Again Turn To The Republican Wing Of The Democratic Party

When Democrats take the reins of government after GOP rule, suddenly conservatives activate alternative ways to hold onto power and prevent progress on policy that impacts the working class. One of the most toxic tools corporate America uses is the right-of-center groupings in Congress, like the Blue Dogs and New Dems-- essentially the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. And then there are the favorite tools of all, No Labels and its associated, so-called Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of mainstream (so mostly not fascist) conservative Republicans, usually in swing districts, plus the most conservative, anti-working class, fake Democrats in the House.

Today the Problem Solvers Caucus added 16 new members, 8 Republicans and 8 fake Democrats, bringing their total membership to 56. Here's the whole sordid list, with the new members' names bolded:

  • Mark Amodei (R-NV)

  • Don Bacon (R-NE)

  • Carolyn Bordeaux (New Dem-GA)

  • Michael Bost (R-IL)

  • Salud Carbajal (New Dem-CA)

  • Ben Cline (R-VA)

  • Lou Correa (Blue Dog-CA)

  • Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA)

  • John Curtis (R-UT)

  • Debbie Dingell (D-MI)

  • Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA)

  • Michael Gallagher (R-WI)

  • Andrew Garbarino (R-NY)

  • Jared Golden (Blue Dog-ME)

  • Tony Gonzales (R-TX)

  • Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH)

  • Vicente Gonzalez (Blue Dog-TX)

  • Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR)

  • Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ), co-chair

  • Josh Harder (New Dem-CA)

  • Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)

  • Steven Horsford (New Dem-NV)

  • Chrissy Houlahan (Blue Dog-PA)

  • Bill Johnson (R-OH)-- actual fascist

  • Dusty Johnson (R-SD)

  • David Joyce (R-OH)

  • John Katko (R-NY)

  • Young Kim (R-CA)

  • Conor Lamb (D-PA)

  • Susie Lee (New Dem-NV)

  • Elaine Luria (New Dem-VA)

  • Tom Malinowski (New Dem-NJ)

  • Peter Meijer (R-MI)

  • Daniel Meuser (R-PA)

  • Stephanie Murphy (Blue Dog-FL)

  • Tom O’Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)

  • Jimmy Panetta (New Dem-CA)

  • Scott Peters (New Dem-CA)

  • Dean Phillips (New Dem-MN)

  • Tom Reed (R-NY), co-chair

  • Tom Rice (R-SC)

  • Brad Schneider (Blue Dog-IL)

  • Kurt Schrader (Blue Dog-OR)

  • Elissa Slotkin (New Dem-MI)

  • Chris Smith (R-NJ)

  • Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)

  • Darren Soto (New Dem-FL)

  • Abigail Spanberger (Blue Dog-VA)

  • Pete Stauber (R-MN)

  • Bryan Steil (R-WI)

  • Haley Stevens (New Dem-MI)

  • Thomas Suozzi (New Dem-NY)

  • Van Taylor (R-TX)

  • Fred Upton (R-MI)

Let's go back to an old Intercept story by Ryan Grim to get a better idea about what the Problem Solvers really is and why corporate America is happy to pick up the tab-- Who's The Mystery Man Behind The Latest Pelosi Putsch? It's Mark Penn. As always, Grim was right on target: "a small group of billionaire-backed Democrats, part of the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus in Congress, has launched a last-ditch effort that threatens to derail Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s election as House speaker. They’ve framed their challenge to Pelosi, a California Democrat, in terms of good government and high-minded bipartisanship. Yet the force behind their campaign is one of the most toxic and notorious partisan warriors the Democratic Party has produced in the past three decades: political and corporate consultant Mark Penn." No bullshit about "moderates," especially not when he introduced Penn-protégé and Wall Street whore-- founder of the Problem Makers Caucus-- Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ).

The links between Gottheimer and Penn go back decades. Gottheimer was Penn’s assistant in the Bill Clinton White House in the 1990s. Then in 2006, when Penn was CEO of the consulting firm Burson-Marsteller, he hired Gottheimer as an executive vice president, with Gottheimer reporting directly to him. When Penn became chief strategist of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign, he brought on Gottheimer as an adviser. In 2012, Penn set up shop at Microsoft, where he built a guerrilla PR operation to do battle in Washington with rival Google. There, too, he brought on Gottheimer.
Gottheimer had the full-throated support of both Bill and Hillary Clinton when he ran for Congress in 2016, with Hillary Clinton calling him "something of a family member."
No Labels launched what it called "The Speaker Project" in this past June, proposing a sweeping set of rules changes that lawmakers should demand before agreeing to elect the next speaker, which by then was presumed to be a Democrat. The next month, the Problem Solvers Caucus embraced the plan. In September, Penn went on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News to talk up the project. "There’s a problem-solvers group that is looking to have some influence if the result is close, in terms of changing the rules and naming the speaker," Penn said.

...Penn is notorious in Washington as the metaphorical devil on the shoulder, whispering toxic advice into the ears of Democratic candidates. Penn and [Penn's wife and business partner Nancy] Jacobson were both early players in the Democratic Leadership Council, a faction that emerged within the party in the 1980s to push it to align with corporate money and to move in a more conservative direction. He’s perhaps most well known for urging his client, Hillary Clinton, to attack Barack Obama as un-American during the 2008 presidential primary.

In a now-famous 2007 memo to Clinton, Penn noted that there had been much coverage in the media of Obama’s "boyhood in Indonesia and his life in Hawaii… geared towards showing his background is diverse, multicultural and putting that in a new light. Save it for 2050."
In other words, Penn argued, an appeal to diversity wouldn’t work politically for another half-century. "I cannot imagine America electing a president during a time of war who is not at his center fundamentally American in his thinking and in his values," he wrote.
How Penn planned to isolate Obama’s alleged otherness is a window into how he views the kind of glossy, good government rhetoric now deployed by No Labels-- its meaning is found less in what it says than in what it doesn’t. He advised Clinton that "we give some life to this contrast without turning negative" by elevating the values she grew up with as uniquely American. "Every speech should contain the line you were born in the middle of America to the middle class in the middle of the last century."
That, Penn argued, would make an implicit contrast with Obama, who allegedly lacked those values-- "fairness, compassion, responsibility, giving back"-- due to his lack of American roots. "Let’s explicitly own 'American' in our programs, the speeches and the values. He doesn’t. Make this the new American Century, the American Strategic Energy fund. Let’s use our logo to make some flags we can give out. Let’s add flag symbols to the backgrounds," he advised. "We are never going to say anything about his background-- we have to show the value of ours when it comes to making decisions, understanding the needs of most Americans-- the invisible Americans."
Clinton, clumsy in her rhetoric, would occasionally make the subtext into text. In a 2008 speech in West Virginia after she beat Obama in Indiana, she said, "Senator Obama’s support among working-- hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again." (Obama went on to win Indiana in the general election.)
A more effective dog-whistler, in the 2016 campaign, would boil the Penn approach down to just four words: "Make America Great Again." Donald Trump was named by No Labels in 2016 as an official "Problem Solver."

A Trump surrogate accepted the award, even though two months earlier, Trump had spoken at a No Labels conference and delivered a speech larded with Trumpisms. (Since his 2017 swearing in, Gottheimer, the Problem Solvers Caucus chair, has voted with Trump more than half the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.)

So... next time someone starts babbling about "any blue," laugh in his or her face. Here are two Problem Solvers in action, Josh Gottheimer and Donald J Trump. did they solve many problems?

bottom of page