Throughout this session of Congress Republicans have been demanding massive spending cuts. This was also the Tea Party Manifesto– $4 trillion or more in cuts as a down payment on eliminating the debt. The President thought it was too much.
Then, the President agreed to their $4 trillion in cuts over 10 years. A funny thing happened. All the sudden, Republicans are against such large spending cuts.
Boehner & Cantor now want smaller spending cuts. Good policy or politics?
On the eve of today’s debt ceiling negotiations at the White House, Speaker Boehner issued this statement “Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes,” Boehner said. “I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”
Republican House Leader Eric Cantor has been against the $4 trillion dollar deal because the President insists that a portion of the amount of cuts must be accompanied by revenue increases either by closing corporate tax loopholes, or raising taxes on the wealthy. Cantor walked out of the Biden talks two weeks ago over Obama’s suggestion of reducing write off for corporate jets. Senate Republcan Leader McConnell is singing the same tune.
As just as was the case with the deficit commission, cap and trade, and countless other ideas and proposals put forth by Republicans, once the President comes around, they are against their own programs. What happened to their plan on reducing the debt to create jobs? Maybe they think we only need half as many jobs.
Moderate GOP voices are beginning to see the hypocrisy and calling it out.
Conservative NY Times columnist David Brooks, a Republican, is dumbfounded. In his column in The New York Times July 4th, he called this the “Mother of all no-brainers—the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars of revenue increases.”
Brooks said “If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. A normal Republican Party would seize the opportunity to put a long-term limit on the growth of government. It would seize the opportunity to put the country on a sound fiscal footing.”
He went on, “But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.”
Brooks made a further observation, “The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor. “
It appears Mr. Brooks is correct. The Republicans want talking points in the next election, not good policies today. They want victory next year, not jobs for Americans today. They want campaign contributions from special interests, not paychecks for their unemployed constituents.
They were for big spending cuts before they were against them.
President Obama responded to this not-so-surprising news in a statement: “Both parties have made real progress thus far, and to back off now will not only fail to solve our fiscal challenge, it will confirm the cynicism people have about politics in Washington. The president believes that now is the moment to rise above that cynicism and show the American people that we can still do big things. And so tomorrow, he will make the case to congressional leaders that we must reject the politics of least resistance and take on this critical challenge.”
The Sunday meeting at the White House will determine if Republicans want to govern, or just campaign. Do they want prosperity or power? Which pledge means the most—the one to lobbyist Grover Norquist, or their oath of office? We will soon see.
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