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February 17, 2011

Boehner: I Will Not Authorize A Continuing Resolution Keeping Spending At Current Levels

This is important, because Obama has vowed to veto the $100 billion in cuts budget (which doesn't go far enough but that's too much for Bam-Bam the Destroyer.)

Which means that the only alternative is a government shutdown, which the GOP is loathe to do because last time (in 1995) they got blamed for it and were hurt politically.

Now, the alternative is that if Obama vetoes, and we have no budget, Congress can pass a Continuing Resolution like the one now in place. But if a CR keeps spending at the same high levels, then Obama has won, obviously -- it doesn't matter if a budget keeps spending at ruinously high levels or a CR keeps spending at ruinously high levels; either way, spending is kept at ruinously high levels.

But Boehner says if forced to pass a CR, that too will contain cuts.

“I am not going to move any kind of short-term CR at current levels,” the Speaker told reporters at his weekly press conference. “When we say we’re going to cut spending, read my lips, we’re going to cut spending.”


George H.W. Bush famously said "read my lips" when promising during his successful 1988 presidential campaign not to raise taxes. But the phrase came back to haunt him when, as president, he raised taxes, and he lost his re-election bid in 1992.


This is an interesting play. He doesn't say that the spending would be deeply cut, but let's assume he's smart and it does cut just as deeply: This would be a tactical effort to make Obama either shut down the government himself or accept the spending cuts.

There's a doctrine in law about the Last Clear Chance to avoid a tragedy, and how the person who had that Last Clear Chance to stop a tragedy should bear the costs should tragedy come to pass. (Look, I don't have the details; they're not important.) Boehner may be attempting to engineer a situation in which the public sees Obama had the Last Clear Chance to avoid a government shutdown, and therefore any shutdown is on him.

Now, I have to say something else: At the end of the day we have to be willing to force a shutdown. Otherwise we have no power. None. We have to be willing to do it, and if Obama won't budge, we have to do it.

The big worry here is that we'll lose seats in the House. So be it. I've wanted to make this point for a while: People are talking about expanding or House majority through gerrymandering. We don't need to expand our majority. Expanding our majority will compel us to add moderates, and then, because they're In Our Political Family, we'll have to protect them and all that bullshit. We'll wind up moderating our policies to protect 6 or 8 new House members we don't even need. They will instantly become weak links in the chain, and the chain will be weakened due to them.

Now, if we shut down government, we just may pay a political price. But what price? If it's ten or fifteen seats (which I think is about what it would be, assuming we lose on this issue), we can handle that. We can keep the majority having lost ten or fifteen seats, and that's all that really matters. What matters is having 50%+1, not padding our numbers.

Now I don't know how serious Boehner is. I hope he's quite serious. If a few moderates and squishes wind up joining with the Democrats to preserve their own electability, fine, fine, that's how the Democrats gamed it with ObamaCare, allowing a number of "moderate" Democrats to pretend to vote against it so that the bill passed but the fewest vulnerable members were on the wrong side of that vote. We can do that too. We do not need a unified caucus.

We just need 218 votes. That's all we need. We can afford to lose a few votes. And we can afford to lose a few seats.

But we cannot afford to lose the battle. We cannot afford to lose the principle.

Spending must but cut, and much more severely than is even currently being entertained.

If we can't do $100 billion in cuts, and force it on Obama, even with the political winds more at our back than we're ever likely to have, then we should abandon the entire project, and just start spending like crazy, because we're going to default anyway. If that's what we're going to do, might as well start just planning for our post-apocalyptic positioning.

But we need these cuts. We cannot cut further if we cannot cut just this much. And if that means losing 10 or 15 votes, or 10 or 15 seats -- then that's what it means and there's no point crying about it.


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posted by Ace at 01:41 PM

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