Is Bush's Control Over Congress Finished?
"The fractures were always there. The difference was the White House was always able to hold them in line because of perceived power. After Tuesday's election, it's 'Why are we following these guys? They're taking us off the cliff.' "
--GOP Pollster Tony Fabrizio
In a further sign that the House GOP is in trouble, interim Majority Leader Roy Blunt had to postpone a vote on a budget reconciliation bill that would have cut $50 billion primarily from food stamps, Medicaid, and student loans among other GOP pet peeves. The bill until yesterday also had ANWR in it, but that was jettisoned to garner moderate GOP votes in the caucus. That strategy failed today when those same moderates said they couldn’t withstand the pressure from their constituents to vote against the cuts. Plus, the moderates said that their constituents were against ANWR as well. You know things are different in Washington now when House GOP moderates are defying the White House to listen to their constituents for a change.
This postponement now puts the GOP Senate in a bind, because for the last five years the GOP leadership in the Senate counted on the House stepping out on a limb with the crazy DeLay-enforced far right votes, allowing the Senate to sand off the rough edges of House legislation and pass the more moderate final legislation. This allowed the GOP to placate the wing nut base through the House’s far right impulses, with their members safe in the knowledge that the GOP elders in the Senate would save them from their own crazy votes when the bill went over to the other house. But now, the emerging moderates within the House, now emboldened to pay more attention to their constituents than a mortally-wounded White House, will not be doing the Senate the favor of passing a crazy bill just so that the Senate can keep its hands clean. The GOP leadership in the Senate will have to do the dirty work itself of passing a budget cut bill that contains more tax breaks for the rich, and those vulnerable GOP senators are not so eager to have to do this dirty work for themselves either. Note that Olympia Snowe and other Senate GOP moderates are balking not at new tax cuts, but at extending the existing tax cuts that Bush made the centerpiece of his second term. The White House thought that the extensions were a slam dunk, and was pursuing new tax cuts. They won't be getting either.
Don't think that a 36% approval rating even among the propaganda outlet followers doesn't have something to do with this as well.
Sure, some of this was the natural result of the fifth year of an administration heading into the lame duck period. But the wheels came off really quick here, aided to a large degree by the White House's self-inflicted wounds, illegality, corruption, ham-handedness, and marginalization of the moderates that are needed in a second term to keep the momentum going. And it all happened just as the Democrats began pressuring vulnerable GOP moderate incumbents in their districts.
And when the GOP's leading candidate to hold the White House in 2008 is now openly advocating in front of the cultists for more troops to be sent to Iraq, then the GOP can look forward to losing Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008.