Friday, December 18, 2015

Republican Base Enraged About Budget Deal

Once again, the pundits are enraged at the stitch-up omnibus budget deal brokered by Congressional Republicans led by Speaker Paul Ryan. The American Spectator's Jeffrey Lord speaks for most, in "Speaker Paul Boehner," when he quotes Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions:
There is a reason that GOP voters are in open rebellion. They have come to believe that their party’s elites are not only uninterested in defending their interests but — as with this legislation, and fast-tracking the President’s international trade pact — openly hostile to them. 
Lord goes on to list all the things that are funded in the budget deal: DREAMers, Sanctuary Cities, refugee resettlement, K1 visas (used by the San Bernardino terrorists), Planned Parenthood, etc. What's the point of voting Republican? He goes on to talk about the "socialist ratchet" described by Margaret Thatcher. Conservative politicians talk a good line, but the left always manages to ratchet the goalposts leftwards. When are we going reverse the ratchet and implement a conservative ratchet?

Well, yes. It's frustrating. It's monstrous. But let's try to give Paul Ryan the benefit of the doubt.

  • Republicans obviously don't want to get into a government shutdown situation, which Democrats always seem to win.
  • Red flag issues like reducing funding for the state Church of Abortion would have required the president to veto the spending bill.
  • And a government shutdown would take the oxygen out of the room for the GOP presidential candidates.
  • So their strategy is: Let's just lie low until we elect a Republican president in 2016, then we'll see.
On the other hand, perhaps there is cunning here. After all, it wasn't until years later that we learned that the GOP in the 1990s may have lost the government shutdown face-offs with President Clinton. But they did cut a lot of spending, under the radar; they flooded the zone with spending reductions, and Clinton could only bring up one or two in the shutdown battles.

Or maybe there is even more cunning going on. Maybe Ted Cruz is a stalking horse for the GOP establishment. Maybe the establishment doesn't hate him like we've all heard tell. Maybe they see that the supposed battle between Cruz and the establishment is just what the doctor ordered to keep the base all riled up for 2016. Maybe everyone is playing their part, playing the Victorian maiden and gasping on camera "I can't believe what Cruz just said" while winking at their pals behind the camera.  Maybe even Trump...

Let's at least understand the difficulty of what Republicans are supposed to do: cut spending and taxes and subsidies. The natural thing for any ruling class to do is to seize power, tax the people, and reward its supporters with pensions and sinecures. The hardest thing for any ruling class to do is to take away the goodies they handed out in the past.

The Republican base is all riled up to cut the spending -- except our own Social Security and Medicare. Hey, we paid for that with our FICA taxes!

So Republican politicians have to shuck and jive, just like Democrats. They have to practice, not Trump's Art of the Deal, but the Art of the Possible. But what is possible in 2016?

That's what we have elections to find out.

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