RINOcracy.com has not always been an unalloyed admirer of Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Nevertheless, credit must be given where credit is due, although being named a RINO Hero is probably an honor that neither would relish. In any case, both gentlemen deserve credit for acting with skill and courage to avoid a “crisis” over the increase in the debt ceiling. As RINOcracy.com had previously noted, the increase in the debt ceiling was inevitable, but it was not at all clear that it would be accomplished with a minimum of embarrassment to Congressional Republicans. Moreover, as events unfolded, the seemingly irrepressible Ted Cruz did his best to create that embarrassment. […]
Tuesday was a good day for the Republican Party because it brought the resounding victory of Governor Chris Christie. Christie demonstrated convincingly that, even in a decidedly “blue” state, a Republican can win with an appeal that crosses economic and ethnic boundaries. As the Wall Street Journal argued, Christie is a “conservative” and not a “moderate:”
The Governor has by and large governed as a conservative reformer. He vetoed a tax increase on millionaires and capped property taxes. He pushed tenure reforms that will make it easier to fire bad teachers, and he extracted far more pension reform out of a Democratic legislature than did Democratic Governors Jerry Brown in California or Andrew Cuomo in New York.
The latest episode of our Washington soap opera descended into self-parody, recalling Carol Burnett’s classic “As the Stomach Turns.” Faithful to the formula, the episode ended with the major characters surviving but faced with dire predicaments just ahead. So it was with the bill finally passed by the Senate and House to end the government shutdown and the threat of imminent default. The crisis is over, but not for long: the operation of the government has been continued only through January 15 and the debt ceiling suspended only through February 7.
The most popular phrase to describe Wednesday night’s Congressional action is “kicking the can down the road.” If the beloved William Safire were still among us, he would no doubt enlighten us as to the origin of what has now become a cliché. In Safire’s absence, Timothy Noah of New Republic used Nexis to trace the term back to arms control discussions in the eighties. Noah suggested that kicking the can down the road had not been a bad idea in the earlier context and, writing last January, argued that it might even be the best approach to the budget deficit. Indeed, even in the most recent crisis it was certainly preferable to allowing a government default or even prolonging further the shutdown. But surely enough is enough. Lurching from crisis to crisis is not only a distraction from addressing other important issues, it also deepens public cynicism, and exacts a toll on the economy when we can ill-afford such a burden. That toll could be dubbed most fittingly “The Tea Party Tax” (or in the lexicon of RINOcracy.com, “The Oozlum Tax”). […]
It is difficult to describe the radical Republicans in Congress without resort to metaphors. As followers of this space know, the term favored here is Oozlums—referring to the legendary bird that flies in ever-decreasing concentric circles until it flies up into itself. That is indeed the flight path the radical “conservatives” have prescribed for the Republican Party. The current crusade of the Oozlums to attempt to defund Obamacare at all costs has earned them another fitting term. On Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal, surely not a watering hole for RINOs, described the frenzied crusaders as the Kamikaze wing of the party: “Republicans must threaten to crash their Zeros into the aircraft carrier of Obamacare…. Kamikaze missions rarely turn out well, least of all for the pilots.”
A talk show last Sunday included a fairly lengthy interview with…Donald Trump, speaking from the Iowa State Fair. Trump had just given a speech in which he had asserted that passing immigration reform would be a “death wish” for the Republican Party and indicated that he might run for President in 2016. ABC’s Jonathan Karl prefaced the interview with the mildly snarky observation that the possibility of a Trump candidacy caused some to raise their eyebrows and others just to roll their eyes. Warming to the subject, Karl asked Trump what he would say to persons who would term his candidacy a joke. For his part,Trump made it clear that he was not at the State Fair just to sample its celebrated deep-fried butter: he, at least, takes his possible candidacy quite seriously, describing his qualification as being “smart” and assuring Karl that if he became a candidate, he would be prepared to spend any portion of his (self) estimated fortune of $ ten billion might that be needed in the effort.
For several months, we have been spared the drama of a manufactured fiscal crisis. That period of relative calm has allowed the stock market to reach new highs and the broader economy to show signs of improvement. So favorable an environment, however, may soon be coming to an end: there are two fiscal deadlines this fall that could precipitate a crisis brought on by an imminent or actual government shutdown. Those deadlines arise from the need for a continuing resolution to continue funding the government after September 30, and the need to raise the debt ceiling. If either deadline should in fact precipitate a crisis, the precise consequences are impossible to predict, but it is certain they will not be pleasant—for the country or for Republicans.
A development in Congress last week seemed peculiar even by the standards of that troubled institution. For years, Republicans have been complaining – quite reasonably – about the failure of the Senate to pass a budget. Pass a budget, they said, and proceed with the process of negotiating a reconciliation of the budget passed by the House in the ordinary way. Now that the Senate has, after four years, finally passed a budget, three Republicans in the Senate, self-styled “tea-party conservatives,” have blocked the appointment of a Conference Committee to do exactly what the Republicans had been demanding. Senator John McCain’s description of that tactic as “bizarre” seems altogether fitting. […]