THE IDIOTS HAVE NO CLUE
Back last May, Heather Cox Richardson wrote this:
“This is no longer your mother’s Republican Party, or your grandfather’s…or his grandfather’s.
“Today’s Republican Party is not about equal rights and opportunity, as Lincoln’s party was. It is not about using the government to protect ordinary people, as Theodore Roosevelt’s party was. It is not even about advancing the ability of businesses to do as they deem best, as Ronald Reagan’s party was.
“The modern Republican Party is about using the power of the government to enforce the beliefs of a radical minority on the majority of Americans.”
You can apply this excellent analysis to anything the House Republicans do, but it is particularly relevant to the current drama over the debt ceiling.
One of the oddest things about this year’s version of the debt ceiling drama is that even the crazy people instigating it don’t appear to have much interest in the subject of the national debt or deficit reduction. Marjorie Traitor Green was asked the other day what programs she specifically would like to cut, and replied, “I don’t have a list of those yet.”
That’s probably because the World’s Dumbest Airhead doesn’t actually know anything about what things government does, other than she doesn’t like Social Security and Medicare, but since she’s attempting (so far, unsuccessfully) to appear “responsible,” she knows the Party Line is that “we won’t touch Social Security and Medicare,” and that even the guy on whose ticket she wants to run as Vice President (!) - the World’s Dumbest Moron - has been smart enough to say the party shouldn’t touch those. So, beyond those, she probably doesn’t have a clue.
Even J.D. Vance gave a thumbs-up to Trump’s tweet about not taking after Social Security and Medicare.
Alleged “moderate” (there really are none left in the party, but some get called that because they don’t slaver when they talk) Nancy Mace was asked on Meet The Press what she wants to cut and couldn’t name anything to cut, but specifically ruled out Social Security and Medicare cuts. Demonstrating her lack of knowledge about how the government actually works, the Big Idea she’s pushing is that Congress should mandate some kind of non-specific overall reductions in discretionary spending and then leave it up to the agency heads to decide what to do.
That neither the alleged moderate Mace, or the trying-to-be-serious Greene have any slight understanding of how the government they allegedly are supposed to direct works is all the proof needed that the modern Republican party has no interest in actually governing.
Of course, Republicans will never opt to address their concerns about the deficit with higher taxes. But right now, they seem to have no clue about what to cut. They just want to hold the debt hostage and more than a few of them would like to see the country default. At the same time, there is a faction in the party that sees doing this as poltiical suicide. They just don’t know how to bring themselves to oppose it without setting their constituents on fire.
The truth is that Republicans may say they are trying to hold a negotiation, that mean old Joe Biden won’t participate in, but they don’t actually have a negotiating position.
They’re certain that passing a clean debt limit would mean they’d be yelled at by the real leaders of the party over at Faux Snooze, and their followers would likely fill their in-boxes with death threats, but they really don’t know why they don’t want to do the responsible thing an actual governing party would engage in, other than that nobody wants to surrender.
They also have a vague sense that “bad stuff happening” would be bad for Joe Biden. Those of them who were around 12 years ago believe that the belief a debt ceiling crisis will damage the incumbent president is how they got leverage over Obama.
But now they’re faced with a President who was “in the room” the last time, and who seems to have learned from his failed attempt to do the “responsible Democrat thing” and run up the white flag and then say “let’s negotiate” back then didn’t work, made things worse, and today backed by a public with a deeper understanding of the issue and thus giving more support to the White House to oppose the crazies, on some level even the Marjorie Traitor Goons know they don’t have that leverage.
If they knew anything about how the part of government they are in actually works, they would know that if they want to reduce appropriations for the discretionary budget, there’s an established process for that.
Last December, a bipartisan majority in the House and Senate passed an omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 202, which offered an unusually large increase in nominal spending. Republicans scored a key win in that the defense budget grew faster than non-defense appropriations for the first time since defense/non-defense parity written into the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Looking at the history of that is a good way to demonstrate how the actual process the Republicans don’t seem to understand works:
Back during the 2011 debt ceiling fight, Obama refused to cut Social Security and Medicare unless Republicans would raise taxes. Naturally, Republicans refused to raise taxes, so they settled on a group of discretionary spending cuts. By 2013, when the next attempt to create a debt crisis happened, Republicans felt those cuts were squeezing the Pentagon unfairly, so they agreed to lift the budget caps while maintaining the parity principle. In the FY2023 omnibus, they won an end to parity by agreeing to an unusually large increase in appropriations.
But whatever you think about this whole series of events, we have a process in place for setting discretionary spending levels.
If today’s Republicans want to write appropriations bills that set lower spending levels - Quiverin’ Qevin has set a goal of paring spending back to the levels of FY2022, which would mean some big cuts - and pass them in the House, nothing stops them from doing that. Since it is likely Democrats would not agree to those cuts, there then might be a government shutdown in October and we’d find out who the public sides with.
Or they could pass appropriations bills with the cuts they want but avoid a shutdown by agreeing to a continuing resolution. A continuing resolution (CR) that maintains current spending levels is in fact a cut in real terms, and the longer that CR and any supplemental CRs run, the deeper the cut.
When Republicans held the White House, House and Senate in 2017-18 and didn’t cut discretionary spending, the demonstrated their actual level of commitment to the issue of spending.
The point is, there is a way to fight about discretionary spending if that’s what they want to do. They can even have their dramatic crisis moment in the form of a government shutdown.
There’s no need to do this debt ceiling fight, which will harm their voters as much as it harms Democratic voters
.It’s likely that the real thing they want to do is trash Medicaid. It’s been a Republican dream since then-Speaker Ryan waxed nostalgic about how he had dreamed of doing that since he was in college. This is why they tried to repeal Obamacare, which had put a lot of money into expanding Medicaid; a repeal of the ACA would generate a big cut to Medicaid eligibility. Look at how many Republican-dominated legislatures have refused to take the free money for Medicaid expansion that the ACA offers.
McCarthy was around for all that and he knows killing Medicaid is a loser outside the party, though it is an Article of Faith among Republicans.
In the “negotiations” he wants with Biden, one way to get the appearance of urgent action on the deficit without touching Medicare and Social Security would be go back to cutting Medicaid.
Cutting poor people off from their health insurance would demonstrate a morally outrageous set of priorities, but a desire to do this is an explanation of why Republicans want to risk national bankruptcy. They think agreeing to cut Medicaid as an alternative to debt default and all the terrors that brings would make them look “responsible.”
But they can’t say that in public, because they know without a crisis at hand, they’re back to where they were when McCain turned his thumb down on them in 2017.
When Joe Manchin tried to defuse the crisis by proposing another run at the bipartisan commission exercise that didn’t work back in 2011, his attempt to find an alternative was rejected out of hand by the Freedom Caucus. Even if it was proposed by Manchin, the idea of a bipartisan commission charged with formulating some balanced deficit reduction measures is a good idea, if it includes both spending cuts and revenue increases. However, that equation is politically futile. But proposing such a thing could create a way for a “sane faction” of House Republicans to jettison the Freedom Caucus and deal responsibly with the debt ceiling, with the ability to go back to their districts and tell their voters they are working seriously the the problem of “gub’mint spendin.”
The fact that the Freedom Caucus was so quick to kill the idea when Manchin proposed it is a demonstration that they know this is how they can be sidetracked back to being the noisy minority with no power they should be.
If Biden were to propose such a commission, it would likely get enough public support to give the “sane ones” enough backbone to agree. Yes, it’s “negotiation,” but it is not negotiation on the debt crisis.
At least some faction of House Republicans need to keep in mind that the most recent polls show that they have a national rating of 32% approval to 67% disapproval, and that Quiverin’ Qevin has a national approval of 19%. While the Fweedumb Kawkuss members come from districts that would elect Caligula’s horse before electing a Democrat, the actual “governing majority” of the House Republicans are the 18 members who can look at those numbers and see political extinction next year.
Give them something they can take back home and show they’re serious, something that allows them to do what they know is the responsible thing regarding the debt ceiling, and they might just discover that they do have a backbone hanging there in the office locker.
Who knows? Let those 18 “Biden District Republicans” find out that doing this leads to their own personal political success, and they might find they actually want to create a governing coalition with Democrats that provides them an opportunity to start overturning Trumpism.
And if it doesn’t happen, even the DC Press Corpse might finally see who is and who isn’t serious about governing. (Hope springs infernal)
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