Favorite

Time to govern 

This too shall pass. In the bipolar gong show of Washington politics, it's the Republicans' turn. Count on them to opt for televised spectacle over governing. It's what they do.

You think a guy like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be dutifully attending committee meetings and painstakingly crafting legislation? Not as long as President Obama's still in the White House and there are TV cameras on the premises.

There's actually an editorial in the influential conservative magazine National Review entitled "The Governing Trap."

It argues for two more years of Animal House Republicanism: "If voters come to believe that a Republican Congress and a Democratic president are doing a fine job of governing together, why wouldn't they vote to continue the arrangement in 2016?"

See, it's not about helping you or me; it's about power.

Speaking of 2016, does anybody imagine the pendulum has stopped swinging? Here's the deal: The GOP made big Senate gains in 2004, 2010 and 2014, the Democrats in 2006, 2008 and 2012.

Comes the 2016 presidential election year, 24 of 34 incumbent senators will be Republicans — seven in states that Obama won twice.

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich is so old he can remember back when Rush Limbaugh's personal hero became Speaker of the House:

"I was in the Clinton administration Election Day 1994 when Democrats lost both houses of Congress and Newt Gingrich became king of the Hill," he writes. "It was horrible. But you know what? It created all sorts of opportunities. It smoked Republicans out. They could no longer hide behind blue-dog Democrats. Americans saw them for who they were. Gingrich became the most hated man in America. The 1994 election also marked the end of the coalition of conservative Republicans and Southern Democrats that had controlled much of Congress since the end of the New Deal."

Meanwhile, however, those blue-dog Democrats have nearly all become Republicans. I'd argue that the demise of regionally- and ideologically-diverse American political parties — i.e. of liberal Republicans and conservative Southern Democrats — has brought paralysis to Washington.

Always and everywhere, certitude is the enemy of compromise. After all, if God says that cutting tycoons' income taxes leads to higher revenues and enhanced prosperity, it would be sinful to notice that it's never actually happened.

Gingrich got elected due to the Clinton tax increases of 1993, which every single Republican in Congress voted against amid universal predictions of doom. The actual result turned out to be 25 million new jobs and a balanced budget.

What's more, does anybody remember that the supposed rationale for President Bush's 2001 tax cuts was that paying down the national debt too soon might stifle investment? Certainly nobody in the Tea Party does.

Meanwhile, count me among those who think that even "red state" Democrats who ran away from President Obama as if he had Ebola made a big mistake. (Remember Ebola? It's so last week, I know. However, I await apologies from readers of the Chicken Little persuasion who objected to my writing that politicizing a disease was contemptible and the danger of a serious outbreak extremely small.)

But back to Obama. It's true that his overall approval rating stands at 43 percent. Also, however, the Republican Congress checks in at 13 percent. The president remains quite popular among the kinds of Democrats who mostly sat out the 2014 election.

True, many voters don't understand how deep and dangerous a hole the U.S. economy had fallen into in 2008; nor that unemployment has dropping sharply; the stock market's more than doubled; and that the federal budget deficit has dropped from 9.8 percent to a fiscally sustainable 2.9 percent of GDP on Obama's watch. But they'll never know if Democrats don't tell them.

Probably a candidate like Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor was doomed anyway. But how could anybody imagine the rope-a-dope tactic would work? The same is true regarding Obamacare. Why not praise the law's popular features and talk about fixing the rest? The Republicans have no health insurance plan except back to the bad old days of "pre-existing conditions" and get sick/get canceled.

On the defensive, Democrats have articulated no persuasive plan for fixing what New York Times economics writer Dave Leonhardt calls "The Great Wage Slowdown."

"Median inflation-adjusted income last year" he writes "was still $2,100 lower than when President Obama took office in 2009 — and $3,600 lower than when President George W. Bush took office in 2001."

Well, they'd better find one. Meanwhile, the GOP/Animal House plan is well known: Cut Scrooge McDuck's taxes; keep yelling Obama, Obama, Obama.

Favorite

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Hillbillies

    Anybody who can sing the lyrics to David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me by My Name" probably won't find a whole lot in J.D. Vance's hotly debated, bestselling memoir "Hillbilly Elegy" that's real surprising.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Lost in Real America

    Following the 2016 election, some readers have accused me of being out of touch with the Real America — that mythic locale inhabited by people who vote like them and watch the same TV shows they do.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Killer's failure

    Has any murdering terrorist ever failed more dramatically than Dylann Storm Roof? Like any punk with a gun, he managed to slaughter nine blameless African-American Christians at an historic church in Charleston, S.C. Intending to start a race war, he succeeded only in shocking the moral conscience of the state and nation.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Obama takes long view

    Right now, it's beginning to look as if President Obama will end up deserving the Nobel Peace Prize he was so prematurely awarded in 2009.
    • Jul 23, 2015
  • Trump and political correctness

    So I see where candidate Donald Trump and former Gov. Sarah Palin are complaining about "political correctness," the supposedly liberal sin of being too polite to tell the unvarnished truth. Me too. I've always laughed at the follies of self-styled "radical" left-wing professors.
    • Sep 3, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Hillbillies

    Anybody who can sing the lyrics to David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me by My Name" probably won't find a whole lot in J.D. Vance's hotly debated, bestselling memoir "Hillbilly Elegy" that's real surprising.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Lost in Real America

    Following the 2016 election, some readers have accused me of being out of touch with the Real America — that mythic locale inhabited by people who vote like them and watch the same TV shows they do.
    • Jan 5, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • What? Gene Lyon's ex-wife petitioned NATO to declare war on Russia over Brussels sprouts!! Now…

    • on January 24, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • You can't expect a man who doesn't read books to know the definition of the…

    • on January 24, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation