Not that we needed any more, but this week’s reminder that Congressional Republicans are almost completely useless came in the form of a budget deal brokered by the GOP’s Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray.
Democrats got $63 billion in new spending and $34 billion in tax/fee hikes. In exchange, Republicans got a halfhearted promise of $51 billion in spending cuts…sometime in the future. Maybe. Trust us. So the usual as far as what passes for “compromise” in Washington.
Ryan can brag about this sham somehow “bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington” or “reduc[ing] our deficit” until he’s blue in the face, but it seems like those were afterthoughts—he let slip what he was really haggling for with this statement: “I think alleviating government shutdowns does alleviate a lot of the uncertainty that has been plaguing this country and this capital.” And by “uncertainty,” he of course means bad GOP press.
Judging by how little Ryan settled for, and how nastily John Boehner snapped at conservative groups who dared to notice the deal’s flaws with more outrage than he’s ever mustered toward Democrats for killing babies, wrecking the economy, or using the Constitution for toilet paper, party leaders are apparently still traumatized by the harrowing experience of being expected to stand on principle during the fall’s fight over withholding ObamaCare funding.
Incredibly, seeing ObamaCare’s rollout faring worse than anyone would have guessed, from the website’s innumerable problems to the steady stream of horror stories about people hurt by the law’s insurance scheme, hasn’t inspired any of these guys to realize, hey! Millions of Americans are seeing and experiencing exactly why we wanted to protect them from ObamaCare, so if we had just stood our ground and committed to spreading a unite message, ObamaCare itself would have vindicated us in the public’s eyes and turned the tables on the shutdown narrative.
Republicans are missing another such opportunity over unemployment benefits. Obama and his elves are deploying the usual demagoguery about Republicans being heartless for not wanting to extend unemployment benefits beyond the current six months that are about to expire. Earlier this week, lefty economist Robert Reich called conservatives hard-hearted for their reluctance, arguing that we need to extend them because “the so-called ‘recovery’ is the most anemic on record, leaving behind a record number of people who have been jobless for more than six months.”
So the jobless need help because the economy’s too bad for them to find jobs. And whose fault might that be?
If they had any sense, Republicans would offer to give Democrats their extension in exchange for one thing: a signed statement by their congressional leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, admitting that the extension is only necessary because of the president’s abject failure to fix the economy. No more having it both ways: force them to choose between their standard-bearer or the jobless Americans they’re supposedly fighting for. Make them demonstrate whether they really believe government handouts should be temporary relief to get people back on their feet, or bribes to perpetually keep voters dependent on them.
The Republicans could learn a thing or two from Democrats, who are constantly looking for ways to hang opponents with their own positions. Of course, to succeed with strategies like the ObamaCare filibuster or my unemployment proposal, one has to genuinely believe in those positions…which, of course, raises a far more troubling question.