Less than two hours ago, I returned from a truly relaxing five-day trip to Harwich Port in Cape Cod. Trying to actually enjoy a relaxing time, I tried as hard as I could to stay away from Mets baseball, the status of the NFL lockout, and more importantly, the debt ceiling negotiations on Capitol Hill.
As I was driving back earlier today, I realized that the Mets just swept a four-game series with the Reds, the lockout is officially over and…well, yeah.
The debt ceiling deadline has been staring Washington in the face since last year. Neither President Obama nor the Democrats in Congress bothered to address the issue, even when they had their majorities in both chambers. So of course, the big news today is that Speaker Boehner and the Republican leaders, not to mentioned the so-called Republican “conservatives” in the pundit class, are willing to shoot the Tea Party conservatives in the back of the head, figuratively speaking of course, in the name of waiting for 2012. Or something.
Heckuva job guys.
An update of today’s events here.
As Republicans in Congress use the Easter break to make their case for Paul Ryan’s entitlement reform to the American people, liberals would love it if constituents would start “raucous” town-hall meetings, a la the anti-Obamacare Tea Party events that took place during the summer of 2009.
Yes they would absolutely if that would happen. Too bad for them, because it isn’t:
How did things go for Republicans in their initial defense of the Ryan budget? Well, consider the intensity of the Left’s desire for an anti-GOP, anti-Ryan, “Town Hall Backlash” narrative. And then consider the relatively small number of “incidents” reported in the news, the sensational headlines that were never written. [...]
It might be too soon to say Republicans are winning the budget debate, but they definitely aren’t losing it, and that’s a real slap in the face for liberals who were absolutely convinced that Americans would never accept a plan as bold as Ryan’s.
Meanwhile, look at this “outrage” at Paul Ryan’s most recent town-hall (via):
These people are outraged I say. Outraged!
It’s looking more and more likely. But it’s still early, and the choice for the GOP is clear:
Congressional Democrats are holding out against substantive spending cuts, confident that they and the liberal mainstream media have so spooked Republicans with fear of “another government shutdown” that the GOP eventually will cave and settle either for minimal cuts or promises of a political fig leaf like a vote on a balanced budget amendment. [...]
Congressional Republicans have a choice to make. On the one hand, they can do what many of their leaders expect, which is to continue business as usual on Capitol Hill by agreeing to such a sham. That course will keep the country stumbling toward the fiscal disaster, economic ruin and national humiliation that inevitably result from such political irresponsibility.
But then I read stories about GOP leaders looking to cut deals with Blue Dog Democrats on bogus spending “cuts”, and I feel like pulling my hair out.
Elections have consequences for members of both parties. If the message of the 2010 midterms wasn’t made clear to establishment Republicans (as well as Democrats), if the Tea Party didn’t give them a political smack upside the head, then I’m not sure what would.
The new meme for the looming budget fight in Congress is that Republicans are “clamoring” for a government shut-down, led by none other than Chucky Schumer. Forget for a moment that you should consider what Schumer says a lie about ninety-nine percent of the time.
Democrats have no problems with government shutdowns. The recent events in Wisconsin are a case in point:
…[I]f it’s so “reckless” to shutdown the government, why have Wisconsin legislators, the President and the DNC all supported the government shutdown in Wisconsin? Not only that, they have shutdown the government by fleeing the state and breaking the law, not to mention the illegal union strikes shutting down schools and national Democrats helping to organize the angry mob descending on Madison.
Excellent point by Mark Hemingway. And what about the notion that a shut-down would be political poison for Republicans, as in 1996? Maybe that won’t be the case this time around:
…[T]he budget crisis is much, much worse than it was in 1996 — Obama and Congressional Democrats added $4 trillion to the deficit in just over two years. I don’t think the magnitude of our current fiscal problems are lost on voters. And the more Congressional Democrats ratchet up the rhetoric towards the House GOP over the shutdown, the more they’re liable to be called out as rank hypocrites following right on heels of the Democratic temper tantrum in Wisconsin.
Hypocrites you say? Yes, I’d say that.
UPDATE. A Memeorandum thread.
The number two Republican in the Senate is calling it quits:
Three-term Sen. Jon Kyl will announce his retirement at a noon ET news conference Thursday in Phoenix, two Republican sources confirmed to Fox News.
The Arizona lawmaker, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, will be the fifth senator scheduled for re-election next year to announce a departure from Congress in 2012.
Kyl, 68, served four terms in the House before winning a Senate seat. In 2006, he was named one of the 10 best senators by Time Magazine.
That leaves, I believe, John Cornyn and Lamar Alexander for the number two slot.
So Europe sets up an oversight committee called the ESRB to make recommendations and assess the financial markets in order to prevent the next financial crisis. What a brilliant idea! It’s a shame nobody ever came up with that idea before.
Too bad though, as the ESRB, like most bureaucratic self-congratulating committees will probably do nothing to stop whatever it is it was created to prevent.
The European Systemic Risk Board, which aims to identify and warn of brewing risks in the financial system, may fail to prevent future imbalances as it doesn’t have any legal power to enforce action, according to economists at ING Group,Barclays Capital and ABN Amro. [...]
“The problem is that these bodies are set up to solve yesterday’s problems,” said Peter Hahn, a former Citigroup Inc. banker who lectures on finance at Cass Business School in London. “They can never do more than flagging any issues,” and whether they can stop a crisis “is questionable.”
The European Union is trying to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis that followed the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and resulted in European governments setting aside more than $5 trillion to support banks. Part of a wider regulatory overhaul, the ESRB is similar to the Financial Stability Oversight Council in the U.S.
The piece is talking about financial markets, but you can substitute any other issue–healthcare reform, the housing market, whatever. The point is that politicians and bureaucrats will always make themselves seem more important than they really are. They do that by forming “committees” to oversee this or that emergency to make it appear as if they’re on the case and working to protect you–the citizen. Meanwhile, they do it only to justify their political existence.
Like the article suggests, more likely than not, their actions will do little if anything to prevent said problems. In fact, they can make it worse. So remember that the next time politicians (Republican or Democrat) tell us not to worry, that they’re on top of things and forming committees and whatnot.
Happy New Year to
all my loyal readers anyone who’s reading this!
The 112th Congress will be sworn in in three days, and although I try never to put too much faith in any politician, there are glimmers of hope and optimism in this class, Tea Party conservatives and all.
Primary among them has to be Allen West, who was interviewed by the New York Times Magazine, which ran it this morning. This is what I’m talking about:
Do you consider President Obama a good leader?
Even though you’re a Republican, did you feel a sense of pride when President Obama was elected?
I don’t look to a man to get pride in myself. It’s not about having a black president, it’s about having a good president, and I think that’s the most important thing. This country needs a good leader, and I don’t care if he’s purple or green but yes, there are some people that saw in him a sense of pride.
You don’t necessarily hear a lot about people like Alan West in the media and such, because people like him scare the bejeezus out of the left. See, in their world, African-Americans are only supposed to be mindless Democrats.
Read the whole interview, it’s short and sweet. Very sweet. We need more Republicans like Allen West. Period.
With less than a week until Republicans take over the House, their mission couldn’t be any more clear:
With Republicans in control of the House and Democrats in charge of the Senate, not much is likely to get done on the congressional front. But over at the executive branch, the race is on to control whatever isn’t already federally nailed down.
Last year, congressional Democrats gave us Obamacare against our will.
Last week, the executive branch’s elves tacked on an end-of-life planning mandate. (But no death panels here, folks. Nothing to see. Healthy people to the right; elderly and infirm to the left. Move along.)
Also last week, the Federal Communications Commission made its second lunge for the Internet, promulgating a slew of rules it clearly has no authority to make.
The Republican response to each of those massive federal power grabs has been a united and resounding, “No.” That was the correct answer.
As this coming congressional session unfolds, they’re going to have to continue giving that answer, continue telling the people why and offer wiser alternatives. That’s especially true of the House, where the Republican proposals will actually see the light of day. The House must build a record of freedom-promoting alternatives to the incremental lockdown on the public that the Obama administration is doggedly pursuing.
That’s it in a nutshell. The campaign is over–no more ads, no more sound bites. Time to act accordingly. The 112th Congress is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Republican party to redeem itself.
“The goal, backers said, is to underscore the limited-government rules the Founders imposed on Congress – and to try to bring some of those principles back into everyday legislating.
“It stems from the debate that we’ve had for the last two years about things like the exercise of authority in a whole host of different areas by the EPA, we’ve had this debate in relation to the health care bill, the cap-and-trade legislation,” said Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, Virginia Republican, who proposed the reading. “This Congress has been very aggressive in expanding the power of the federal government, and there’s been a big backlash to that.”
Setting aside time at the beginning of the congressional session for the reading is just one of the changes to House rules that Republicans say are designed to open up the legislative process. They say the new rules also will try to bring some restraints to lawmaking after decades in which both Republican and Democratic leaders whittled away opportunities for real legislative give-and-take.
The biggest changes would make it easier to cut spending and harder to create entitlement programs, while imposing restrictions that could keep leaders from jamming massive bills onto the House floor before lawmakers have had a chance to digest them.
This is all well and good, but reading the Constitution is one thing. Governing based on its principles is quite another.
Voters need to keep an eye on what our representatives do in Congress, as well as what they say. I’ve read that the Republican party is on probation in this Congress, and I agree with that.
The Tea Party is the proverbial tail trying to wag the Republican Party dog, not the other way around. And to paraphrase Bart Simpson, Washington D.C. is a hideous bitch goddess. Tea Partiers in Congress are only human after all (with the exception of Congressman-elect Allen West) , and are susceptible to its free-spending and corrupt ways. These things can happen in spite of the symbolism of reading the Constitution out loud.
That being said, I am as cynical as they come, and I would love to be proven wrong.
[Hat Tip: Hot Air Headlines]
UPDATE. When the House Republicans are done reading the Constitution, they may want to figure out how to fight and beat the Obama adminstration on political battles like this:
When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.
Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.
Congressional supporters of the new policy, though pleased, have kept quiet. They fear provoking another furor like the one in 2009 when Republicans seized on the idea of end-of-life counseling to argue that the Democrats’ bill would allow the government to cut off care for the critically ill.
The final version of the health care legislation, signed into law by President Obama in March, authorized Medicare coverage of yearly physical examinations, or wellness visits. The new rule says Medicare will cover “voluntary advance care planning,” to discuss end-of-life treatment, as part of the annual visit.
More to the point of my original post, does the new House majority have the backbone to go to the mattresses on these issues?
Ed Morrissey writes:
This is just the opening gambit of a strategy Obama will use throughout the coming year in order to achieve through regulation what a Democrat-run Congress could not deliver through legislation. The new Republican House will have to use its power of the purse to stop this autocratic imposition of regulation, and remain vigilant in doing so on all fronts. Let’s hope the GOP gets used to fighting this process over the next two years.
Yes, let’s hope.
As he ends his political career, Senator Arlen Specter’s parting shot to the Republican party takes real cajones:
Mr. Specter, who lost his state’s Democratic primary after switching from the Republican side of the aisle in 2009, did not mince words as he assailed unnamed colleagues (read Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina) for violating Senate tradition and politically undermining members of their own party.
“Senators have gone into other states to campaign against incumbents of the other party,” Mr. Specter said. “Senators have even opposed their own party colleagues in primary challenges.
“That conduct was beyond contemplation in the Senate I joined 30 years ago,” said Mr. Specter in a speech that the onetime prosecutor billed not as a farewell, but as a closing argument. “Collegiality can obviously not be maintained when negotiating with someone simultaneously out to defeat you, especially within your own party.”
“The spectacular re-election of Senator Lisa Murkowski on a write-in vote in the Alaskan general election and the defeat of other Tea Party candidates in 2010 in general elections may show the way to counter right-wing extremists,” he said.
Shorter Arlen Specter: We had it so good for thirty years, with nobody paying any mind to what we did in the Senate, and just accepting everything we told them, the dumb rubes.
This kind of rhetoric gets me steamed, typical of the decrepit, old and bitter career politician that so infuriates most Americans when they look at Congress.
Here you have a man, who after spending decades as a Republican, refused to acknowledge the shifting political winds, and rather than fight for whatever he considered his principles, jumped ship and became a Democrat. The irony is that he failed to see the extremists on the left which have hijacked the Democratic party, where moderates are becoming extinct. But I’m sure Specter won’t be lamenting those extremists.
In the end, Specter only reinforced the image of himself that I always saw–a petty and bitter man.