The Republicans may still be in full victory dance mode, but the realities of their new Tea Party compatriots should scare the hell out of them.

As Republicans do their victory dance around the defeated Democrats, it is obvious the game plan is they don’t have a game plan, unless just making darned sure Obama is a one-term president fits that bill. That will of course require a rather large raspberry to the unemployed, uninsured, or anyone else who doesn’t make it in their world of rampant individualism and self reliance, but it is not as if America has not been there before.

Republicans might take a minute to reflect on being careful about what they have wished for, but then they haven’t even given a minute to any policy which may get their beleaguered country out of its self-inflicted mess –other than keep W’s tax cuts for the rich and undo what they oh so very cleverly refer to as ‘Obamacare’. That’s the legislation Obama managed to push through so the forty million or so and rising who have lost their jobs or have low paying jobs are able to take their kids to hospital when they are ill. Supposedly it is socialism gone mad.

The Republicans realise they can’t actually repeal the mammoth legislation outright. Their cunning plan is to deny funding for each part of the health care plan as it comes before the House which they now own.

It is so moving an experience, this regained control, that it caused tears to flow down the cheeks of the strangely tanned John Boehner (the presumptive Leader of the House). While perhaps proving his tan is not from a tube and more of a Palin-style tanning bed variety, in the immortal words of Tea-Partier/Tea Bag Sharron Angle, he really needed to “man up”.

In true American style, the Republicans were voted back into office out of anger for the mess they had left. Now, having managed to pretend it was all Obama’s creation – and he did little to convince otherwise despite the facts – they are about to have to re-own that mess.

Their two years in the wilderness where they perfected the policy of “no”, and prioritized partisanship over patriotism, are up. But so too are the number of what we might refer to as non-traditional Republicans elected to office. Many of them have been called nut-jobs for good reasons like suggesting the Democrats are determined to implement Shar’ia law, that a group of Latino students looked more Asian than Hispanic, that handcuffing reporters or stomping on the heads of protesters just seems to go with the “passion” of politics.

Call them what you like, Tea Partiers were the energy that propelled the Republicans back into (ltd.) power, but what are you going to do with them now Mr Boehner? Michelle Bachman wants the No.3 job in your caucus, and Sarah Palin is fast becoming your future choice to run against Obama in 2012.

Palin’s disciples may all gather at large rallies to scorn liberals, but they don’t actually agree with eachother on many issues. Imagine the doozie when Rand Paul who wants to slash the Defense budget and pull all troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, confronts the diehard military-industrial complex stalwarts.

They do seem to agree that they will not tolerate being sidelined by the old Elephant, having already declared a refusal to be sucked in to Republican business as usual, and their support for the Republican hierarchy is by no means guaranteed. It will be fun to watch how long they spurn the seductions of the Republican old guard and its fiersomee track record in pork barreling.

They do agree on slashing government spending. Big Government is very passé to a Bagger. Trouble with slashing government means slashing jobs and surely even they know that it was the 9.5% unemployment rate that secured their victory against the Democrats, not the faith of the great unwashed in their superior governance skills. Theirs was a most undeserved victory and deep down many with much more experience in government will know that, and it should scare them.

But not those who thronged to the rallies hoping to just get a glimpse of Palin and Bachmann. They carried slogans telling Obama to keep his socialist hands off their Medicare. Had they paused for just a second they would realise their Medicare is a massive government programme that looks after the elderly. Will that be slashed when Government is downsized?

What about the cops and firemen on the streets and teachers in schools? They are paid from the government purse. Will their numbers be slashed in the crackdown on big government?

How many Tea Party/Baggers have children or relatives or friends who work in the government bureaucracy? Will the razor gang cut only non-Republicans? Only non-Tea Partiers?

And did/do any Tea Party rocket scientists work in the auto-industry or its offshoots? If they did/do their jobs were saved by Obama with his auto-bail-out which damaged him politically but will likely earn hard cash interest. But in Party parlance, that was big government nationalizing the car industry. A big government blunder like saving the banking industry, saving three million jobs and preventing a complete economic meltdown. Wrecking capitalism a la ‘W’ is good; saving capitalism a la Obama is bad, apparently.

So where will the initial $100 billion in spending cuts come from? The Republican’s “A Pledge to America” which was supposedly an economic policy document didn’t have a clue about that or much else. It certainly did not tell middle-America that Republicans suddenly had the answers to their problems - so glaringly absent during the Bush wilderness years.

But talking about wilderness, there is one little gem that can not go without a mention, because “maybe you just need a few renegades goin’ rogue to make a change”…

And here’s the question. Is the rather hirsute figure at the end the Tea Party Mamma calling in Todd and the kids for dinner? On the menu a little (Republican) elephant stew perhaps?

Comments (11)

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

"They do agree on slashing government spending. Big Government is very passé to a Bagger."

You're right on this. But as this article discusses, even "slashing" government spending won't balance the budget unless Medicare, Social Security or military spending is hacked back as well ... which the Republicans promised not to touch in 2010. Also remember that whatever a Party promises, you still need a majority in the House, a super-majority in the Senate and a Presidential signature to deliver - in the context of a political system that has but weak inter-party discipline.

So, if you really want to make the books balance without advocating policies that are political poison in the US context, you need to ... raise taxes.

by Graeme Edgeler on November 10, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Also remember that whatever a Party promises, you still need a majority in the House, a super-majority in the Senate and a Presidential signature to deliver - in the context of a political system that has but weak inter-party discipline.

Not a party that wants to make government smaller. They could just pass a budget, and if it's not adopted by the Senate (only a majority needed in the Senate under reconciliation) just passit again daring the Senate to do something (including enough in it so they can say that Obama vetoed spending on sympathetic project XYZ).

p.s. Eric Cantor is the presumptive House Majority Leader, John Boehner is the presumptive Speaker.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

Not sure that is quite right. Medicare and Social Security are "permanent appropriations" according to the all-wise wikipedia:

"Social Security and Medicare expenditures are funded by permanent appropriations and so are considered mandatory spending according to the 1997 Budget Enforcement Act (BEA). Social Security and Medicare are sometimes called "entitlements," because people meeting relevant eligibility requirements are legally entitled to benefits. Some programs, such as Food Stamps, are appropriated entitlements. Some mandatory spending, such as Congressional salaries, is not part of any entitlement program. Funds to make federal interest payments have been automatically appropriated since 1847. Mandatory spending accounted for 53% of total federal outlays in FY2008, with net interest payments accounting for an additional 8.5%."

Hence, as I understand it, spending on these programmes (which are the main consumers of US government spending) continues until someone changes the law to stop it ...

by The Falcon on November 10, 2010
The Falcon

Initial thought: this article's going to be a wonderful, insightful look into American politics.

Tags for this post: "slash, victory dance, undeserved".

Oh dear.

 

by Graeme Edgeler on November 10, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Andrew - that's my understanding too. I don't see how it affects my argument: that they can play hardball if they want.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

'Cause you'd need to repeal the permanent appropriations, not simply fail to provide the money for it. And repeal would require both the Senate and the House to act. And that then brings the issue of cloture into play - and hence the need for 60 votes rather than a bare majority.

Unless they go for the "nuclear option", of course ...

by Graeme Edgeler on November 10, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

They can't go for the nuclear option:

1. The don't control the Senate (the only place it's relevant).

2. The nuclear option is a challenge to the Constitutionality of the Senate Rule XXII on the basis of Article II, s 2 of the US Constitution:

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

It argues that the current rule requiring three-fifths of Senators to vote to have a vote on a nomination is contrary to this (consent for appointments vs. consent with two-thirds concurrence for treaties). The nuclear option therefore only applies to the appointments process, and not the legislative process generally.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Graeme,

Sorry - we were talking across each other a bit ... I was talking generally about the problems the Republicans (and specifically, the Teabaggers amongst them) will face in cutting the deficit even if they were to regain control of the Senate (and Presidency for that matter!) For now, I don't think there's much they can do (or honestly want to ... the next 2 years are all about screwing up Obama's time in office as much as possible to help whomsoever they nominate for 2012).

As for the "nuclear option", whilst it reared its head in the context of judicial appointments back in 2005, it actually refers to any move to change the 3/5ths requirement for cloture. There have been past moves to try and amend this rule in the context of "ordinary" legislating - it is, after all, simply a procedural rule (Rule 22) the Senate itself has adopted for itself and not constitutionally mandated (in the way the 2/3rds majority for Treaties is).

by Graeme Edgeler on November 10, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

As for the "nuclear option", whilst it reared its head in the context of judicial appointments back in 2005, it actually refers to any move to change the 3/5ths requirement for cloture.

I had this on in the background for much of the morning. I'm not sure this is the consensus view.

 

by Graeme Edgeler on November 10, 2010
Graeme Edgeler

Also, I don't rule out that amendments to entitlements could be enacted through a reconciiliation process, as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act was.

by Andrew Geddis on November 10, 2010
Andrew Geddis

I had this on in the background for much of the morning. I'm not sure this is the consensus view.

I have 240 Public Law exams to mark. I don't have time for listening to such malarky!

Also, I don't rule out that amendments to entitlements could be enacted through a reconciiliation process, as the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act was.

I think you can rule that out right now. After all, John Boehner and Eric Cantor were very critical of the prospect of such tactics here. And in response to them here. I think we can trust them to act in a more principled and bi-partisan fashion when they regain full control of the Congress.

Right?

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