The Allure of Moving On

Bend over Republicans, here they come again.Phil Klein is out with a column that I can only assume comes from House Republican Leadership talking points. I can only assume that because House Republican leaders and those close to them have been whispering about this scenario for about a month now to as many Republican strategists, pundits, and others as would listen. They want to move on.They want the next fight. So desperate are they to move on, in January of 2013, House Republicans want their base to know they think they’ll lose the House in November of 2014 unless they cave now so please let them cave.Truth be told, it is alluring. Superficially, I see the merit. Basically, as Phil Klein writes,


Consider, then, “Maneuver X.” As modified to fit the current political environment, it would mean that Republicans remove all pressure. They should give Obama his debt limit increases without preconditions, and they shouldn’t allow any government shutdowns.Meanwhile, Republicans should use their majority in the House to pass bills that actually do address the nation’s problems — its economic stagnation, rising energy and health care costs, mounting debt and so on. At the same time, they can keep blocking major new expansions of government.

Basically, give Barack Obama everything he wants and move on to the next fight.Klein views it this way

This two-pronged strategy would allow Republicans to isolate Obama and establish themselves as the responsible ones.

It is alluring. Really — we know the debt ceiling is going to be raised. We do.We know a continuing resolution is going to pass. We do.So let’s let sequestration happen, reset the baseline for spending, pass a CR, raise the debt ceiling, and move on to the next fight. Let’s catch the Democrats unprepared! Hell, we’ve been fighting ourselves more than him, so let’s move on. Let’s fight on our ground.Right now several House Leadership staffers have gone into the bathroom to go blind at just the thought that I’ve written the above paragraph. Before they go blind, let me throw some cold water on this nonsensical proposition.What is the next fight? “Entitlements,” you say! Hey, we had that fight before. It was called Paul Ryan’s budget. It went nowhere.”Spending,” you say. Hey, we had that fight too and the GOP folded. In fact, time and time again, the GOP has spent more time wanting to seem reasonable to the Washington press corps than actually do anything. They bluster, pound their chests, and then they cave. We can move on to the next fight if that makes you feel better, but you would be foolish to think the GOP will not cave again. They’ll say things like:

  • “We only have one House so there is only so much we can do;” and,
  • “We did get meaningful concessions, trust us;” and,
  • “We have to appear reasonable;” and,
  • “Spending will be cut over ten years while taxes go up tomorrow;” and,
  • “If we fight too hard, we’ll wind up getting a worse deal;” and,
  • “I know, let’s move on to the next fight. We’ll be on better ground on that fight.”

The only fight the GOP extracted meaningful concessions from the Democrats on was the 2011 debt ceiling fight. And how did they do that? They refused to do a clean debt limit without something. They got more Democrats voting for a package that put the sequester into law, and it is now set to hit. The President had to give in. Ironically, now some want to get rid of sequester, the one major spending cut the GOP got the last time.Right now all the bluster in Washington is about the Democrats accusing the GOP of starving kids and killing old people. They know the GOP will cave. This maneuver X B.S. is exactly what they are hoping for. And then we can move to the next fight and watch the GOP cave again and again and again all in the name of looking like the reasonable party.Perhaps it is time to stop looking reasonable and start, metaphorically, shooting the hostages. If House Republicans lose in November of 2014, it won’t be because they fought the good fight. It’ll be because they left John Boehner as Speaker who decided to rely routinely on a bunch of Democrats to help him sell out so he wouldn’t have to fight.



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