Can The GOP Leadership Really Negotiate?
by Deacon Blues
One thing that needs to be remembered about the House GOP’s budget proposal, and all those significant cuts, is that they are an opening proposal. Paul Ryan admitted it yesterday.
"I don't think the Senate will pass this cut," Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chairman of the Budget Committee, said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "We will have to negotiate. Look, we're not looking for a government shutdown. But at the same time, we're also not looking at rubber-stamping these really high, elevated spending levels that Congress blew through the joint two years ago."
I applaud the House GOP leadership for doing what the Democratic leadership should have done two years ago: pass your extreme position as your opening position, and then expect to negotiate from there. Imagine what the outcome would have been had House Democrats been able to get Blue Dogs to pass a strong, jobs-producing stimulus bill at the outset, and moved quickly to pass a strong financial regulation bill right after that, and then forced a debate from those positions towards the center. But the Blue Dogs are too beholden to the same corporate criminals who got us into this mess, and now find themselves cut out of what the GOP is doing also.
House Republicans also gave up an opportunity for bipartisanship. The bill passed a divided House at 4:40 a.m. Saturday; after five days of debate, not one Democrat supported it. By eliminating dozens of government programs, Republicans drove away those Democrats most inclined to vote with them - moderate Blue Dogs.
But is Ryan whistling past the graveyard? Does anyone really think that the GOP leadership will have the support of the Tea Party caucus to water down these cuts to get a deal with the Senate? Ryan says that he doesn't want a government shutdown, but there are dozens of his fellow GOP caucus members who not only will shut down the government, but are ready to vote against raising the debt ceiling as well. Ryan, Cantor, and Boehner may soon find themselves unable to corral their own caucus to avoid the passions of irresponsibility they themselves used to gain power. This will only be exascerbated by a 2012 GOP race where extremism may be rewarded.
As for the Democrats, despite her centrist talk at times, I like Claire McCaskill's effective messaging:
"For gosh sakes, we've had everybody talking about secure the borders, secure the borders, secure the borders, and then instead of making some reasonable adjustments in checks we write to oil companies, they're cutting border security," Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said on "Fox News Sunday."
"Are we going to take a weed whacker to education funding in this country while we let millionaires continue to deduct interest on their second home? That doesn't seem to be the right priority."
The entire Democratic caucus in both houses needs to talk like this, and make the connection like Paul Krugman did today that the GOP is really trying to eliminate anything or anyone that stands in the way of elites and corporations having total control of the government and economy.