Favorite

Rhetoric versus reality for Republicans 

So what's it going to be for GOP hotheads in Congress this fall? A soul-satisfying episode of adolescent nihilism culminating in a government shutdown and yet another debt/default scare? Or an abject capitulation to political (and fiscal) reality and an acceptance of the Republican Party's role as the loyal opposition?

As I write, there's just no telling. It's partly a contest between the GOP's electronic infotainment/Tea Party wing and the party establishment. Talk radio shouters and cable TV entrepreneurs thrive on melodrama, and a substantial proportion of the Tea Party base follows excitedly along.

Defund Obamacare! Shut it down! To those of us of a certain age, this has a ring of nostalgia, like Abbie Hoffman's 1967 vow to levitate the Pentagon. I don't know what they're smoking down at RNC headquarters, but on CNN's "State of the Union" party chairman Reince Priebus made a lame attempt to blame President Obama.

"I think all Republicans are unified on one thing and that is defunding, delaying, getting rid of, eliminating Obamacare," Priebus said. "So we have total unanimity on that issue and the question is what are the tactics?...So Mr. President, if you want to shut the government down because you want to continue to fund this monstrosity...then go ahead."

Nice try. No cigar.

Having wasted countless hours on 40, count 'em, 40 votes to defund Obamacare, you'd think House Republicans might be getting the message. Their scheme's DOA in the Senate, and even if it weren't, the White House holds veto power. The GOP's last constitutional chance to prevent 30 million Americans from buying affordable health insurance coverage expired with Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy. End of story.

True, rising Republican celebrities like Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), and rising star Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) are breathing smoke and fire. However, it's also true that none of these worthies hold leadership positions. Until very recently nobody knew who they were. They risk nothing by enrolling in a purely symbolic resistance.

Quite the opposite: True Believers in utopian right-wing crusades evaluate politicians according to their fervor, not their coherence. Did Ronald Reagan ever pay a political price for describing Medicare as the death knell of freedom? He did not.

Indeed, the best possible outcome for Senatorial rabble rousers would be what now appears likely: A minority of GOP House moderates voting with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution, avoiding a party-line government shutdown that could doom the Republican Party's national electoral chances. Speaker Boehner won't have much choice but to allow it.

See, there's nothing the Southern wing of the GOP loves more than a heroic defense of a lost cause. Save your Confederate dollars, boys, because...

Well, you know the rest.

Lately the party's adult leadership has also taken to signaling the need for restraint regarding the National Debt. According to the Washington Post's Greg Sargeant, congressional Democrats scrutinize Wall Street Journal columnist Stephen Moore for signs of Republican establishment thinking.

Recently, Moore informed readers that "[t]he biggest underreported story out of Washington this year is that the federal budget is shrinking and much more than anyone in either party expected."

Overall federal spending that peaked at $3.598 trillion in FY2011 due largely to recession-related costs will drop to $3.45 trillion by the end of FY2013. "The $150 billion budget decline of 4%," Moore writes "is the first time federal expenditures have fallen for two consecutive years since the end of the Korean War."

Also dropping is the annual Federal budget deficit. Projections by the Congressional Budget Office show a $642 billion shortfall this year —less than half of the $1.3 trillion shortfall the Obama White House inherited from George W. Bush. It's forecast to drop to $560 billion next year, and $378 billion in 2015.

Moore: "Already the deficit has fallen from its Mount Everest peak of 10.2% of gross domestic product in 2009, to about 4% this year. That's a bullish six percentage points less of the GDP of new federal debt each year."

In short, informed conservatives understand that there is no need whatsoever for a melodramatic standoff over raising the federal debt limit. No need to risk "the full faith and credit of the United States" by threatening default. Hostages need not be taken.

As in the Obamacare charade, Republican posturing on the debt would only risk catastrophe for the sake of certain defeat.

Alas, but herein lies the rub: The great majority of GOP voters out in the wilderness beyond the Hudson and the Potomac not only don't know these facts, they're constitutionally incapable of accepting them.

To followers of politicians like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, fears of fiscal collapse, runaway inflation and social chaos aren't political ideas, but fixed beliefs scarcely amenable to arithmetic or reason.

And their Antichrist is Barack Obama.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Tom Cotton

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • Blaming Obama

    A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Megyn vs. Alex

    As vigorously hyped broadcast events go, Megyn Kelly's televised confrontation with internet conspiracy cultist Alex Jones proved something of a dud.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Not again

    This just in: Nothing boosts circulation or enhances ratings like a sex scandal.
    • Jan 14, 2016
  • Never wrong

    Quite a few people make noises about leaving the country if the wrong person gets elected president. I've been making discreet inquiries in the vicinity of Kinsale, County Cork, myself — from whence my people emigrated after 1880.
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Hillary hit jobs

    It's always been my conviction that if Hillary Clinton could be appointed president, she'd do a bang-up job. Getting elected, however, might prove more difficult.
    • Jul 28, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • No one in charge

    The American president has long been described with the honorific "Leader of the Free World." No more.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Blaming Obama

    A couple of months ago, on May 10, President Trump invited two Russian diplomats into the White House to celebrate his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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: Another Jesus

    • Sorry, I have never written about Hillary Clinton's "blunders" in Benghazi. Since you call them…

    • on July 25, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

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