Friday, July 15, 2011

The GOP Position

So, if I understand it correctly, the emerging Republican bargaining position is: we want credit for giving in on one of our strongest principles: opposition to raising the debt limit. I think people need to accept that, and take it seriously. Republicans, apparently, care so much about not raising the debt limit that they are willing to give up deficit reduction to get it.

I'm just not sure which of two plausible interpretations to take. One is that they really, honestly, care more about not raising the debt limit than about reducing the deficit. This is madness.

The other is that the real, honest principle here is that the limit must be raised with only Democratic votes, and that for that principle they're willing to give up reducing the deficit. To be sure, that sounds like an incredibly cynical, self-serving position for GOP Members of Congress to take...but in fact one might argue that it is the position being forced on them by the grass roots.


  1. Agreed, it's "madness" for a conservative to care more about not raising the debt ceiling than cutting the deficit. Yet is it "incredibly cynical" for Republicans to be using this as an occasion to differentiate themselves dramatically from Democrats in anticipation of the next election--especially if they do it in a way that opens up an avenue of escape from a public default? Is Mitch McConnell acting more cynically than Eric Cantor?

    There's nothing especially cynical about staging symbolic votes in anticipation of the next election. Wouldn't you have held congressional Democrats in higher esteem if they'd had it in them to bring up a tax bill in the last congressional session that extended the Bush tax cuts in middle-class brackets and let them expire in the upper brackets as a way of forcing Senate Republicans to filibuster it? That would have enabled both parties to draw substantially the same lines they're drawing in the sand now without endangering the full faith and credit of the United States.

    If you ask me, the "incredibly cynical thing" is the readiness of both parties to negotiate the basic shape of the welfare state and the tax code behind closed doors as a way of blurring the lines of political accountability.

  2. What seems cynical to me is the fact that the GOP seems to be banking on the fact that their base doesn't really know what the debt limit is, and their congressmen don't want to tell them. (Or maybe the congressmen don't know either.) This is money that has already been allocated - by Congress itself - and all they're really asking for is that Treasury to pay the bills that Congress has incurred.

    Instead, they're presenting this as a way to force the administration to spend less money, when the only people who truly have the power to spend is Congress itself.

    The debt ceiling posturing is really the same thing as the balanced budget amendment - a way to sound tough on government spending without having to actually cut government spending.

  3. Take a tour of the rightwing blogs or turn on an FNC political show or talkradio: Obama created this crisis! It was HIS idea, a Big-Spending Kenyan Alinskyist plot, put in place among other things by HIS refusal to submit a "real" budget, in complicity with the Progressive Menace. He savagely assaulted the pure and valiant Paul Ryan with humiliation and voodoo, and everything he's ever said that sounds halfway reasonable or attractive is a posturing lie. So the poor honest conservatives and their hacky functionaries like McConnell and Boehner are struggling with an untenable situation. If Republicans suffer politically, it will be further proof of the President's Mephistophelian political skill, though if only the aforementioned hacks had stood with Tea Party's real Americans, the crusade this time would have been won.

  4. The third is that Republicans care more about low taxes than reducing the deficit (shocking, I know). That is the key to understanding their position.

  5. IAG: You mean they care more about low taxes on the *rich. They turned down permanent tax cuts for the below $250,000 bracket for the second time, if reports of what the "Grand Bargain" offer contains are correct.

    In addition to balking at oil industry subsidies, ending preferential depreciation of private jets, etc.


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