“House Republicans abandoned their effort to add spending cuts to the Senate’s budget legislation and . . . Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole said he expects the House to pass the Senate bill unchanged with a ‘substantial’ bipartisan vote.”
If this is true . . . if House Republicans and their leadership support a bill that raises taxes and spending as opposed to the status quo that raises taxes and lowers spending, then it is time for a third party. I don’t care how many Democrats win House seats in 2014. I really don’t. If this is what Republican style fiscal conservatism looks like, then I am done with the GOP.
I’ve received lots of criticism for my post. Let me tell you why you’re wrong to think that this bill was anything less than a complete catastrophe.
1. There were NO spending cuts. None. Not a single dime. In fact, there were spending increases. Massive ones. If the Republican Party believes that spending is the problem–and it is–then this deal is a complete betrayal of that belief. Going over the cliff, as imperfect as that option was, at least sends the strong message that without spending cuts, the GOP will not be on board.
2. Along those lines . . . seeing that, Barack Obama going forward would know that every time he has a wish, he would have to come to the table with something he is willing to cut. Now he knows that when bargaining with the GOP, it’s just a matter of how BIG future spending increases will be.
3. Under the fiscal cliff, the biggest spending cuts would have been to DoD–which is as it should be. The Defense Department is bloated and wasteful as a result of twelve years of unshackled restraint. The GOP, by making defense spending the center piece of its opposition to the cliff says loud and clear that they are exactly the same as the Democrats: we want spending cuts–as long as they aren’t cuts to our spending programs. The cliff was a cut to every program. We need that. Big time.
4. Nickel and dime tax victories over a few tax cuts pale in comparison to what was lost in new taxes. We’re still going into a recession because of this tax increase (I actually think that it will be back-dated to the third quarter of 2012, so we’re probably already there anyway.) So if you thought that this is going to save us from a recession, you should think again.
5. Republicans will be portrayed by the media as having lost. That was going to be the case no matter what happened. The GOP will always get the blame and will always be losers–at least in the eyes of the media. So if you’re always going to get the blame no matter what you do, you might as well do what is right. Any attempt to play nice with the media will not work. So stop trying.
6. Any political victories were tactical in nature. Strategically, the GOP ceded the long game. Spending is the enemy. Politically, spending creates addicts for government dollars. Those addicts will always vote for the party of more spending. By voting for more spending while giving lip service to restraint, the GOP has created more Democratic voters over the long term. Congratulations.
7. Still on the subject of strategic failures, and perhaps most importantly, the GOP has not positioned itself for the time when math finally catches up. The only thing enabling our spending binge is a prolonged period of historically low interest rates. Rates are only that low because of (A) a slutty Fed that’s just giving it away for free, and (B) there are no other investment options because the worldwide economy sucks. (A) is obviously inflationary in the long term. And as for (B), it does not benefit the party in power to maintain a crappy economy so that the government can continue to borrow at low rates. Eventually something gives, and when it does, the party out of power–IF IT HAS BEEN MAKING THE PRINCIPLED CONTRARY CASE–is perfectly poised to make changes of historic magnitudes.
From 1912 until 1930 Democrats were largely out of power. They aligned themselves with progressivism, and in the 1920s especially, national Democrats paid a huge political price for it. But once the collapse came, they were perfectly poised to cement in place progressive rules that are with us to this day. Those very rules are the foundations of the next failure. Last night the GOP decided that it didn’t want to offer the nation a different path. It has become just a Dead Elephant Walking.