Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Republicans Play Smart!

Prior to the Giffords shooting, the media was busy trying to discredit House Republicans for their first week in power. They spun stories of a lavish “Republican” fundraiser (though only a handful of Republicans attended), they whined about two Republicans not being properly sworn in (a non-issue at best), and they complained that Republicans didn’t cut $100 billion from the budget on day one. Of course, few people fell for these smears. What's more interesting though is something that's gone almost entirely unnoticed by the media, something that could turn out to be significant.

Years back, the Congress put a limit on the size of the federal debt. But the federal budget is so out of control that the Treasury keeps running into that limit. Consequently, the Congress must repeatedly vote to raise the debt ceiling or face the music as government spending grinds to a halt and the government begins defaulting on its obligations.

One such moment came up prior to the election. But with the Democrats likely to lose the election, they decided to set a trap for the Republicans. By voting only to extend the debt ceiling for a few months worth of spending, the Democrats hoped that one of the first votes the new Republican Congress would need to make would be to raise the debt ceiling. The Democrats hoped this would embarrass the Republicans and alienate them from their Tea Party allies. It seemed like a nice trick.

But like everything else the Democrats do, this one has blown up in their faces. Indeed, rather than just hold their noses and vote to raise the debt ceiling, as the Democrats expected, the Republicans decided to hold out until Obama agrees to budget concessions. Said Speaker John Boehner:

"The American people will not stand for such an increase unless it is accompanied by meaningful action by the president and Congress to cut spending and end the job-killing spending binge in Washington. While America cannot default on its debt, we also cannot continue to borrow recklessly, dig ourselves deeper into this hole, and mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren."
Even the RINOs are on board. Said Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.):
“This is an opportunity to make sure that the government is changing its spending ways. I will not the vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term obligations, starting with Social Security.”
Graham’s demands are similar to those of many Tea Party activists -- raise the retirement age for Social Security, means test benefits, and slash non-security discretionary spending to 2008 levels. The Republican leadership is on board as well, as are most members, though some are opposed to raising the debt ceiling under any circumstances.

Obama first tried to castigate the Republicans for “playing chicken” with “catastrophe,” but now indicates he’s willing to reach a deal with the Republicans. Harry Reid too has climbed on board, though many on the left continue to resist. Said Dick Durbin (D-Ill): "Using this doomsday scenario and putting the American economy at risk I don't think is a responsible way to govern." Wah!! What does Durbin know about responsibility?

What makes this such an interesting issue is that the Republicans could well be on the verge of obtaining actual, serious concessions from Obama. Consider that for a moment. When the Republicans won the House but not the Senate, the assumption was that nothing would happen until 2012, when Obama could be replaced and a majority obtained in the Senate. But through the careful application of political pressure, the Republicans may be about to obtain concessions that begin to right our fiscal house and reshape the federal budget toward conservative goals.

Combined with actual cuts ($35 billion in the House budget), Issa’s deviously clever plan to let American business have a hand in slashing regulations, and the seeming easy unity of Tea Party people and RINOs (and even some Democrats), things appear to be off to a pretty good start in Washington. Maybe these really aren’t the same old Republicans?

What do you think?

42 comments:

Tam said...

I remain cautiously optimistic, but very pleased that so far. Our guys are walking the line they talked prior to taking the House. Very ineteresting, and exciting!

Patti said...

i am praying that you're right, andrew. with apologies to ronald reagan, i'd like to trust, but you better believe i'm gonna verify and be watching with both my good eyes.

(also: link'd!)

T_Rav said...

What I would have been very interested in seeing is if the Republicans had followed through on a threat a few of them were making, that they would attach the bill to raise the debt ceiling to the bill to repeal ObamaCare. That would have been the greatest game of chicken of all time. But like you, I'm pleased by what I've seen so far. Boehner hasn't made any missteps so far and has been very much "talking the talk." That said, we're only a week into this session of Congress, so we'll see how long this holds up.

AndrewPrice said...

Tam, Same here. I am certainly not ready to say "yep, they got it" and stop paying attention -- in fact, I don't think I will ever not pay attention. But so far they've done a great job of walking the walk, even when they could have gotten away with it.

I'm very happy at the moment.

I think the big issues are still ahead, like the first budget they produce and repealing Obamacare, but so far they are giving me a great deal of confidence!

AndrewPrice said...

Patti, Thanks for the link! I'll be over in a few! :-)

In terms of trust but verify, I think that's the absolutely correct view to take. But I have to say that with prior Republican Congresses (other than 1994), I always seemed to be in the position of "expect disappointment, and don't worry about verifying, you'll hear about it." So for me, this has been a major improvement already!

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Patti, You've done a really good job with the Giffords shooting issue and I recommend people check out your stuff. Patti's Place

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, That would have been interesting, but I think that would have been a mistake. In an effective game of brinksmanship, you can't push too far or the other side gets to play the victim.

Plus, I think it's probably too early for that kind of move until they get a sense of who they can rely on and who they can't. Right now they've got a lot of unity, and they should exploit that while they can -- especially while expectations are that nothing can happen. Then you go after the biggest stuff once you've gotten all you can, and you use the rest for the election.

So I get the feeling they played this exactly right.

Tennessee Jed said...

I read your article early, but didn't respond until now since I was composing a missive to the Knoxville News Sentinel blasting their editorial calling for the need for civility in politics in the wake of theTucson tragedy. Before specifically commenting on your post, I feel I need to share actual comments from their lead oped this morning: "There is an unavoidable political dimension to the tragedy." Unavoidable? Now get this: "While investigators haven't offered a conventional motive, Sheriff Dupnick angrily denounced inflammatory political rhetoric at a press conference following the shooting. Dupnick's agency had custody and THERE HAD TO HAVE BEEN SOMETHING THEY LEARNED IN THE EARLY STAGES THAT LED TO THE STATEMENT (caps added.)

O.K.; sorry for that little rant. Because so much of politics is controlling the spin, conservatives should bargain for some real spending reduction, but must be very careful to have a solid story. Unlike Gingrich, we have more media outlets to counter the liberal spin. Clinton ate up Newt by out spinning him, and we must avoid the same fate. Learn from history, Republicans--don't be doomed to repeat it.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That is incredibly stupid reasoning by your newspaper.

First, the Sheriff is a disgrace, so assuming that he must know something is wrong.

Secondly, there is tons of evidence as to motive. In fact, everyone now know the motive. He was crazy. He met her in 1997 (before Palin or the Tea Party). He asked her a question about how grammar makes the world. She apparently did not answer or she answered something he considered condescending in Spanish. From that moment on, she was his target. All of that is publicly available, even to journalists in Knoxville.

Third, this is by no means something that needs to be politicized. They want to politicize it, but that doesn't mean it was unavoidable.

Fortunately, I'm seeing lots of articles now that are blasting the media for politicizing this. The Politico in particular is taking heat for their actions, but others are as well. The public clearly does not see this as a political issue, only journalists and the politicized left do.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

I hope you're right and that Republicans have actually grown a brain--not just in understanding what the majority of the American people want, but being politically savvy in accomplishing it.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, On your other comments, I agree entirely, success will always depend on spin. And in this instance, I think the Republicans are winning.

I say that because Obama and Reid caved in so quickly. They tried to attack the Republicans initially for playing chicken with doomsday, but they gave that up very quickly. If they thought there was a political advantage to be gained by attacking the Republicans, they would certainly be doing it.

And the MSM isn't talking about this at all, so they must realize that the public will be with the Republicans on this.

The key for the Republicans now is to get the new media talking about this without people giving in to the idea of "they failed because they should have demanded so much more" -- armchair quarterbacking.

In budgeting, a lot of what will ultimately be significant is not the big programs or big issues but smaller changes that affect the way things get counted or that set how large certain automatic programs can grow. It's my understanding that the changes they are talking about here are those kinds of changes -- very significant, but not sexy.

So as long as the right doesn't blow this by screaming that this was a wasted opportunity, then the PR should be pretty good on this.

I guess that will depend on how people like Rush take this?

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, They've done me wrong so many times that I instinctively assume that they will fail -- that they don't get it or that they will blow it. They don't analogize the Republicans to Lucy and the football for nothing.

But I've honestly been very impressed with them. I thought Issa was going to go crazy and try to take out frustrations, and thereby lose the public. But he surprised me. Not only did he not do that, but he seems to have come up with some very crafty ways to get the public on our side.

Even before that fundraiser hit the media, the leadership had told their members not to go. In the past, they wouldn't have responded until after the issue blew up.

Their cuts to their own budget have been very significant and very public -- you can't accuse these guys of hypocrisy.

And now this. Everyone assumed they would have just rolled over and voted to increase the budget ceiling, and then said they couldn't do anything because they just got to town. But instead, they've come up with a plan that could lead to some serious improvements and they seem to have done it in such a way that they can't even be considered reckless or destructive. Indeed, they seem like the grown ups in the room.

So far, I am impressed.

DUQ said...

I saw that 70% of people say we shouldn’t raise the debt ceiling. I don’t know if that’s reasonable right now because I’m not sure if they can remake the budget in time. But I certainly agree that they should not raise it again after this.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I saw that too, and I'm glad that the public is being serious about cutting the deficit. I don't think the Democrats will be able to stop anything if the public keeps reporting those kinds of numbers.

In terms of now versus later, I agree. I think that voting NO right now would be a disaster for Republicans because everything would shut down and we would be blamed. But I think voting NO in the future is a necessity. In fact, I want to see them vote to lower the debt limit in the future.

LawHawkRFD said...

Too bad we didn't take over the Senate as well. We could at least have proposed a federal budget Amendment, although I doubt it would have passed. The next best thing is a balanced budget bill, and I hope to see that intimately joined to raising the debt limit. Let's hope the moderates don't fold on this one. What the Democrats plotted as an embarrassment for the Republicans could turn out to be an early (and big) victory instead.

CrispyRice said...

Our local radio guys were talking about that fundraiser and how it was just a media smear, because there weren’t any Republicans there and the party leadership told people not to go. Fortunately, everyone knew that and the issue doesn’t seem to have caught on with the public.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, This could well turn out to be a huge victory if they make some of the changes they are talking about. In fact, they could got a long way toward entitlement reform and they could pull it off with little or no blowback from the entitlement crowd. I guess we'll see.

On the balanced budget Amendment, while I like the principle, I don't like the execution -- it's too easy to get around by just using fake numbers. . . like California. I want to see them tied to the prior year's numbers, so that they have something real they are tied to.

DUQ said...

Also, not to throw this into your thread, but does anyone know what's wrong with saying a "blood libel"? Palin said it in her video and everyone seems to be upset about that, but nobody says why.

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I don't think it caught on at all. It was all over the news for a couple days -- yahoo kept it up all week, the Politico ran a half dozen stories on it. But as soon as people found out that the leadership wasn't going and actively told their members not to go, the story died.

In the end it turns out to have been a stupid idea by a freshman with a lot of lobbyist ties to try to pull in a bunch of freshmen, but few of them (11 or something like that) actually took part -- and I don't even think they went to the party.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, The problem is the term is tied to antisemitism in medieval times. "Blood libel" is a false accusation that Jews sacrifice Christian children for various purposes. Here's a link if you want to read more. That's what they're talking about.

(FYI, I didn't know this either -- I never heard the term before today, so I had to look it up this morning.)

CrispyRice said...

And what’s the swearing in issue? I haven’t heard about that one.

AndrewPrice said...

This one's really stupid. Two Republicans missed the big swearing in, so they technically were not members of the House when they voted. Similar issues have happened in the past and they deal with it by just doing a quick vote to ratify their prior votes. But the Democrats thought they could embarrass the Republicans by refusing to go along. So they wasted a whole afternoon dealing with this and removing their votes from the record. Then the Democrats ran around saying, "look at the Republicans wasting time... nyah nyah nyah nyah!"

In the real world, no one noticed.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: And sadly for California, the Republicans nominated Meg Whitman who lost to Jerry Brown. One of the early primary candidates for California governor, Tom Campbell, proposed tying the future budget to the past (at a maximum of 80%), but switched over to the Senate race. We ultimately lost both races.

Pittsburgh Enigma said...

I have to think that the average Democrat didn't know what "blood libel" meant before today, either. But it sounds really incendiary, like "death panels", so it makes them angry. Palin really has a way of tweaking the left.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I hate to say this to you, but GET OUT!!! California is a lost cause. The people there have decided that no matter what happens, they will keep voting themselves goodies until the state literally falls into the ocean -- then they'll blame the Republicans and demand a bailout so they can keep on spending. Ug.

AndrewPrice said...

Pitts, I doubt most people knew what it meant -- please correct me if I'm wrong.

To me, it just sounded like a strange way to say "nasty slanders." It struck me that she just rammed together the idea of libel and "blood sport" to come up with something that meant libel me about a bloody event. It wasn't until people started complaining about the term that I found out what it means.

I get the criticism, some people will hear it like "they put me through a holocaust" -- it's insensitive. But I personally don't think this will resonate with the public. If anything, it will just confirm existing opinions. I saw that the Washington Examiner took the approach that this compared poorly with Obama and Boehner's much more "Presidential" rhetoric. Could be. But I see this as just one more issue which will cement views on her, nothing more.

FYI, I remain impressed with Obama's tone on this. And I think my head will explode if I keep having to say nice things about Obama. Egads.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I heard of the term "blood libel" before from my Holocaust class, but had someone else not pointed out, I would have thought nothing of it. In fact, I still don't. This is a non-issue, especially since Palin isn't the first one to have used that term in connection with the shooting. This is purely an act of desperation by the media to distract attention from the fact that Palin's video message was a grand slam. I hit up some of the comment threads this morning, and even a lot of independents and conservatives who don't like her REALLY like what she had to say, promise they'll defend her til the sun goes down, and even say they're having second thoughts about whether she would be that bad as President. It's pretty good stuff.

T_Rav said...

By the way, my letter to my local paper was published today, I'm happy to report.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, I think it's a non-issue that the media is trying to blow up into an issue because they got caught exploiting this tragedy. They ran out and really went all out to turn this to partisan gain and I think they were shocked by the public backlash. So now they want to shift the blame for this to the people they attacked. That's why yesterday was "Rush Limbaugh actually said...." day, and today is "look at what Palin" said day.

AndrewPrice said...

Hey, Congratulations! Do you have a link or anything?

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. T_Rav, I don't think Palin's video worked. We've hooked a troll in the Liberal Hate Speech article, and she doesn't seem to like Palin. It's very sad.

T_Rav said...

Andrew, I wonder if Bruno/Vigilante went to some back-alley clinic in San Francisco and had a quickie sex-change operation? Or maybe one of his multiple personalities just happens to be a woman. Who knows.

As to the letter, you can find it here: http://www.semissourian.com/story/1694330.html

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, Who knows? LOL! But I'm sure that trolls get stamped out by the dozens, so this is probably a new one.

Here's the link to your article: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Nice response to the troll! Very well reasoned!

rlaWTX said...

I know that this is a dumb question, but... what is means testing benefits?

thanks!

T_Rav said...

Andrew, thanks for the support and for cleaning up the link. I'm only quasi-literate when it comes to computers, so all I can do is cut and paste Web addresses. Either way, hopefully there're fewer trolls of Mary's stripe in my neck of the woods than there are on the Internet at large.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, That's not a dumb question! A dumb question is something like "where do I vote for the Democrat?" ;-)


"Means testing" basically means cutting off benefits for people over a particular income level or people who have more than a certain amount of assets. The idea is that people who are "well off" (i.e. rich) should not be getting benefits or should have to pay more for those benefits. In this case, they're talking specifically about medicare and social security, which are currently given at the same price regardless of the recipient's ability to provide for themselves.

AndrewPrice said...

T_Rav, You're welcome. HTML is fairly easy once you learn it, but it's not something casual internet users need to learn to use. So most people just post the links and then we try to turn them into active links.

Regarding Mary, I thought your response was great and if she actually reads what you wrote with an open mind (LOL), then she could learn a lot from her little visit here. But that's not how people like her work. You can see from her arguments that she's made up her mind years ago and is simply looking for anything she can jam into her thinking to maintain her delusions. And I'm sure her response will prove that, as she will respond with a lot of anger at us... brought on by our refusal to accept her reality.

In terms of the number of trolls in real life versus those on the net, there are a lot fewer trolls in real life. This is largely because trolls are cowards and they would never dare speak the way they do to people in real life. Moreover, trolling seems to be a college thing mostly because that offers the right environment of stirred hate, self-righteousness, and encouragement from angry leftist professors, that inspires the less stable to go forth and spew hate.

Once people leave college, most get real world issues that take over their thinking and they learn that humans can't be forced to conform to their worldview. So the trolling generally stops -- though you will still meet some, especially in government employee ranks, where there are few consequences for their misdeeds.

StanH said...

It sounds like an accidental rope-a-dope. Lets hope the Republicans have the sense to see it through, I have my worries.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I get the feeling there was nothing accidental about this one. But we'll see. As I note, I remain cautious. Optimistic, but cautious.

Ed said...

I know I'm late. Sorry. I think the Republicans have done a great job so far and I hope the keep it up. Nice article, thanks for telling us about this.

AndrewPrice said...

You're welcome Ed. I've actually seen others starting to talk about this, so we were just a little ahead of the curve on this! :-)

Post a Comment