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December 13, 2013

GOP To Fiscal Conservatives: Drop Dead

So yesterday the House GOP overwhelmingly decided to renounce fiscal conservatism.

One excuse given by the party of Not Quite As Big, But Still Pretty Damn Big Government is that they had to bust the sequester or else there would be another disastrous shutdown.

Here’s the problem with that excuse…it’s bull.

The idea is that Obama, Reid and the rest of the Democrats would love another shutdown so that they could get the focus away from ObamaCare and back on the dysfunction of the GOP. This would supposedly be the answer to all their problems.

Now if that’s true, why would the Democrats allow themselves to be bought off for a few billion dollars in spending? Do you really think Obama and Reid are thinking, “We’re facing annihilation in 2014 and the only way we might survive is a shutdown but gosh, we’re getting $30 billion more non-defense spending. I guess we’ll just give up our one chance to hold the Senate because that extra $30 Billion is just too sweet to pass up on!”

In what world does that make any sense?

If the Democrats wanted a shutdown they could have had it in a heartbeat, even with the extra spending the GOP just coughed up.

All they’d have had to do was insist that extending unemployment payments be part of the deal. If the GOP held firm on that, the Democrats, along with their allies in the media, would have said, “These Republicans are at it again. Now they are shutting down the government because they want 1.3 million Americans to lose their unemployment payments. At Christmas time! We didn’t think the GOP could get more extreme or cruel but now they are holding these vulnerable Americans hostage because fringe conservatives like Ted Cruz only care about their extremist donors.”

But no. We’re to believe Obama and Reid passed up on that (they cut the deal without the extension, much to the consternation of their liberal members) even though they really, really want and need a shutdown.

Why don’t Democrats want another shutdown? Likely because they recognize the country is angry with them at the moment and they aren’t sure the blame will be placed on the Republicans this time. Americans now realize that Obama lied to them about ObamaCare and the GOP told the truth. This time around voters might be inclined to think he’s lying to them again when he says, “I’m Mr. Reasonable but those crazy Republicans! You can’t even talk to them.”

So did Democrats simply bluff the GOP into thinking they really wanted a shutdown and at least got something out of it? No.

This is the truly sad part. The GOP didn’t have to be bullied or bluffed into breaking the sequester, they wanted to do it.

Remember how in 2010 the GOP ran on cutting $100 billion from the budget and then the first thing they did was try to weasel out of it? It took a lot of pressure to get them to live up to that promise.

Think back to this August when the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill was supposed to come to the floor for a vote. Why didn’t it make it? Well, the appropriations chairman, Hal Rogers, said it was because there weren't enough Republican votes to pass a domestic spending bill that had cuts in it. Sure the GOP passed 4 of the 13 appropriations bills for FY14 but all of those increased spending. Nothing with cuts made it to the floor. In addition to those domestic porkers there are Republicans who wanted to hike defense spending.

So the critical mass within the House GOP caucus is for more spending but they can’t admit it. They have to pretend that they were avoiding another shutdown and then top that off with the insulting idea that sure they’ll spend more now but just you wait! In 12 years you’re going to see some real cutting!

Were the only options for the House GOP, a deal or a shutdown? No.

Republicans didn’t have to do anything. They could have taken the spending levels of the 3 month CR that ended the shutdown (which were at the GOP’s sequester level estimates) and simply expanded those levels to the entire year.

Instead they elected to unwind the one program, however flawed, that actually cut spending.

The GOP will talk about the need to cut spending…when they need your volunteer efforts, your money and your vote. But when it comes time to actually act, they will call you ridiculous for noticing that they are actually in favor of ever increasing spending and always will be.

(Note: Gabe and I got into it on the podcast over the question of what’s more important, GOP words or deeds. I think you can guess which side each took but it’s worth listening to both sides of the argument.)

Seeing the GOP cave on a core principle, not simply a matter of "tactics" as GOP apologists like to claim, do you really believe their anti-ObamaCare promises? They'll want you to ignore everything else they do (amnesty anyone?) and keep you focused on ObamaCare. But what in their actions, not words, makes you believe they won't eventually compromise on that too?

Yesterday the GOP abandoned any notion that they will ever give more than lip service to cutting spending. People will say, "well, the Democrats are worse and at least the GOP is with us some of the time". Yes, the Demcorats will always be worse but that thinking just encourages the GOP to be 1% less worse. Is that really helpful? Does that advance conservatism?

You can say, "someone who agrees with me 80% of the time is ally, not an enemy". Well, it depends on what the 20% of disagreements are about.

If you’re a fiscal con, you can either accept that the GOP will only sweet talk you but never actually deliver for you. Or go back for another beating.

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posted by DrewM. at 10:28 AM

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