Republicans: Still searching for a fight they can win
By Michael R. Shannon web posted February 27, 2012
Rep. Frank Wolf (R–VA) and I disagree on term limits. I'm a firm believer in 12 years and you're out -- while Wolf is an advocate of the 30 years and counting philosophy. (Unless Frank doesn't have any other options, because his family refuses to spend more time with him.)
But based on his courageous vote recently against the payroll tax extension, it's safe to say we do see eye–to–eye with regard to what the media terms "bipartisanship."
This is important because in a presidential election year independent voters are going to be bombarded with stories touting the benefits of "bipartisan cooperation" between Democrats and Republicans.
The political calculation in the media is bipartisan = good. Conversely, refusal to compromise principles = bad. So independents should either support "bipartisan" candidates who just happen to vote for liberal legislation or stick with the genuine article and vote Democrat.
Independent voters that are concerned about the country's continued deficit spending should not meekly accept the media's definition of political progress, because that definition undermines everything in which they believe.
This is because bills that pass Congress with bipartisan support and media approval in the days of Obama, are bills that increase spending and hasten our descent into drachma–based budgeting. And voting to extend the payroll tax cut is a perfect example.
Usually Democrats believe Americans are under–taxed and only their stubborn greed stands in the way of Nirvana in America. This time Democrats support the payroll tax cut extension because passage improves Obama's prospects for re–election. What Democrats oppose is making the extension deficit–neutral by cutting spending somewhere else to offset lost revenue.
Republicans don't like the extension because it undermines funding for Social Security, does not provide any real economic stimulus and will add approximately $100 billion to the deficit.
A genuine compromise would address elements of both positions. A bill that continued the tax cut for the rest of 2012, so Obama can slide past election day, and was offset by spending cuts would give Democrats and Republicans their top priority, while forcing compromise elsewhere.
Yet the "bipartisan" bill the country got extended the tax cuts with zero budget cuts.
To put this in perspective, total federal spending for this fiscal year is estimated to be $3.8 trillion. A cut of $100 billion from that gusher of Chinese–backed indebtedness is less than three cents on the dollar, yet Democrats would not cut a penny.
In fact this bill wipes out the measly $95 billion in deficit reduction "victory" the House GOP leadership sweated bullets to achieve last year.
Wolf describes the bill as, "…shameful. The American people are right to be disappointed that the president and the Congress have walked away from every serious deficit reduction effort. They should be appalled that both sides have joined together to spend more money and weaken Social Security."
And Rep. Jeff Flake (R–AZ) hit the nail on the head, "Why is it that the only time we can come together and reach an agreement…increases the deficit or explodes spending? That's enough to make the country cry for more partisanship." Or if not more partisanship, at least some leadership, but that does not appear to be on the horizon either.
Republican leaders were faced with a choice: defeat the extension because it increases the deficit, moves Social Security another step down the road to a welfare program and is simply irresponsible vote–buying. Knowing full well that Obama will characterize their opposition as refusing a tax cut for the middle class, while protecting the rich.
Or they can choose to crater on the spending cuts offset and vote for a fiscally irresponsible bill knowing that Obama will use the bill's passage as proof he's fighting for the middle class, while the GOP is only interested in protecting the rich.
Someone please help me find the victory here. The reality is Republicans face a hostile media that favors spending and an administration that wants to increase spending. Making the case for cuts is not going to get any easier. If GOP leadership is unable to make the case for small spending cuts now, there is no chance they will successfully make the case for major spending cuts we must make in the near future.
Meanwhile, according to the Washington Post, smug Republican House veterans who supported the "compromise" said conservative freshmen "had touched the stove and finally realized it was burning hot."
The veteran's advice was the usual: voting for pork is the best insulation.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.