Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why The Proposed Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Renders the Tea Party Powerless

by Nomad

Here's a little Interesting news. Reuters is reporting today that:

Budget negotiators in the U.S. Congress have reached a two-year agreement aimed at avoiding a government shutdown on January 15 and setting federal government spending levels through October 1, 2015.
While it might seem like a step in the right direction, it is hard not to be a little cynical about the deal. Even as a first symbolic step toward a real bipartisan compromise, the fine print reveals some horrors for the unemployed. (I'll talk about that at a later date.) What's more interesting is the underlying motive for the Republican party to offer any deal at all.  

This budget deal,  hammered out by Washington Democrat Senator Patty Murray, and Republican Paul Ryan from Wisconsin, may be bipartisan but it is hard to see why anybody would claim it was progress. (One site actually hailed it as "a new era of cooperation." Where have these people been the last five years, I wonder!)
Congressional negotiators reached a modest budget agreement Tuesday to restore about $65 billion in automatic spending cuts from programs ranging from parks to the Pentagon, with votes expected in both houses by week's end.
Now, sixty-five billion might seem like a large figure to you and me but when it comes to government spending it is practically nothing. A superpower can spend that money much faster than you can blow your nose.

In fact, these were spending cuts to the budget which have now been restored. So count that as a step back from the reducing government spending. Shrinking big government, (except when it came to the military) has been the rallying cry of the Republicans since Reagan's day. 
Reducing government spending was supposed to be what the last budget bust-up in Washington was all about. Remember that shutdown thingy?

And that turned out to be a political disaster for Congress, but especially for the Republicans. So it is no surprise that somebody in the party would be happy to avoid a repeat of that disgrace next January. 
Apparently the leader of the House John Boehner-who, in the end, just wants to be loved, sent Pretty-boy Ryan into the thick of the negotiations. It was probably a wise but cynical move on his part.
Clearly the Tea Party will take one look at this and begin frothing at the mouth.

Delusions over Tea Time
Despite the damage done to the Republican party in October, threats of shutting down government -basically holding the government hostage-was the only weapon that the Tea Party minority had. This deal effectively takes that loaded pistol out of the hands of the petulant baby.
And this baby has a nasty disposition and has some old Republicans scared for their political lives.

According to one poll,
Tea party adherents were front-and-center during the shutdown, and views of the movement have become more negative. Just 14 percent of Americans now hold a favorable view of the tea party, down from 18 percent as the government shutdown began, and unfavorable views are up 7 points.
Furthermore, the poll found that:
Sixty percent of Americans don't think the Tea Party reflects the views of most Americans, but the movement's backers don't feel they hold a minority view - in fact, the opposite: As with many groups, tea party supporters think their own views are held by most Americans.
Indeed it is frightening how delusional this radical minority within the GOP has become. (Or rather how delusional they have been allowed to be.) Tea Party leaders saw the attempt at a government shutdown as a “historic victory” and yet despite all that bravado, the leaders of what amounted to “legislative extortion” achieved was national disgrace for the Congress and no concessions from the White House.

In the end, the deal to increase the debt ceiling- which ended the shutdown threat- was blasted by the likes of Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips. who called it "political suicide." (Taste the irony in that phrase?)
And Sen. Rand Paul, a freshman Republican from Kentucky and co-founded the Senate Tea Party Caucus, immediately condemned the deal. Talk about a sore loser. 
Reactions from other Tea Party politicians, prepared to spin like tops, were just as delusional. For instance:
Rep. Allen West, a freshman Republican from Florida and a Tea Party favorite, said the movement has already done a remarkable job shifting the debate from how to spend to how to cut, and Monday's vote was further evidence of that.
West compared the debacle to- get this- finding the sweet spot on the bat and hitting a homerun. Er... okay, if you say so.

Other Tea Party leaders were far less philosophical about the defeat, They vowed those Republicans that voted for the compromise budget deal would pay a heavy price in the next elections. 

If the Tea Party won't forget, then neither will the average American voter. As Forbes reported:
Over at The American Spectator blog, Mark Meckler, a co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, trumpets the “glorious battle” fought by “committed warrior[s]” that put Republicans “poised for massive gains in 2014.” 
But, there's a problem with that forecast:
This contradicts pretty much all evidence to the contrary, including poll after poll showing Americans were unhappy with the shutdown scuffle. One recent CNN poll showed 75 percent of Americans say Republicans in particular don’t deserve to return to Congress.
So between threats by the Tea Party and utter disgust from the rest of the country, the Republicans would seem to be in trouble.
Hence, the Ryan-Murray deal. Republicans must not allow the Tea Party radicals another chance to attempt to shutdown the government.

Cruzing for a Bruising, or How not to Reduce Spending
At some point during the last shutdown fiasco, the House Republicans appear to have lost the plot. Was it about government spending or was it about trying to defund ObamaCare? Or did it matter?

Senator Ted Cruz in a 21-hour speech on the floor of the Senate, declared
"I intend speak in support of defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand."
He did speak about Obamacare as well as his favorite movies and at one point, even read from Doctor Suess. (Cruz doesn't embarrass easily, we can assume.) However, the whole thing was nothing more than an elaborate hoax for the sake of getting the attention of Tea Party supporters.
Several members of Cruz's own party have pointed out that, even if they wanted to, they can't use the spending bill in question to revoke funding for the health law. A large portion of the law is funded with mandatory spending -- which Congress is required by law to keep up unless the law is repealed -- as well as multi-year funds still available even in the event of a government shutdown.
Even the American Conservative noted the stupidity of the easily-avoidable political disaster. The article is worth quoting.
The shutdown did not extract policy concessions from Obama. The Affordable Care Act is funded and in effect. Instead of shrinking government, the shutdown grew it, directly costing taxpayers $3.1 million. “Although furloughed workers will get their back pay, taxpayers won’t see the products,” ABC News notes. Whatever projects the furloughed workers were undertaking are still being pursued, of course, only now the workers have had a paid vacation, albeit one that most of them would rather not have had.
The article added:
Not only did the shutdown not get the policy results its supporters wanted, but Cruz’s tactic itself wasted millions of dollars of other people’s money.
Ouch!  And this comes from conservative source, keep in mind. 
The self-defeating emotionalism of Ted Cruz’s admirers won’t allow them to think through this problem. Instead they present themselves with a false dilemma between Cruz’s counterproductive incompetence and RINO liberalism. That there could be a more intelligent strategy for limited government than merely doing what feels good never occurs to them—it’s too painful to contemplate.
Still, as far as Tea Party members were concerned, Cruz was their newest war hero.

The Great Koch Reversal
Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 health care r...
Tea Party rally to stop the 2010 
care reform bill 

in St. Paul, Minnesota 

As the last shutdown attempt began to unravel, something odd happened. The Koch brothers on October 9th claimed (with a lot of nerve, I think) that, contrary to what we 've all been led to believe, the boys have not- repeat not- “taken a position on the legislative tactic of tying the continuing resolution to defunding ObamaCare nor have we lobbied on legislative provisions defunding ObamaCare.” 

Not I, said the fox.

However, as the Daily Kos pointed out, that statement was not exactly accurate. 

A February newsletter from Matte Kibbe of FreedomWorks, one of the many Koch-funded organizations, was entitled “Coalition Letter: Congress Must Honor Sequester Savings and Defund ObamaCare Before It Is Too Late” said that,
Conservatives should not approve a CR unless it defunds Obamacare. This includes Obamacare’s unworkable exchanges, unsustainable Medicaid expansion, and attack on life and religious liberty.
The New York Times also reported that the Koch brothers through its organizations participated in the campaign to shut down the government in order to defund ObamaCare.
Groups like Tea Party Patriots, Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks are all immersed in the fight, as is Club for Growth, a business-backed nonprofit organization. Some, like Generation Opportunity and Young Americans for Liberty, both aimed at young adults, are upstarts. Heritage Action is new, too, founded in 2010 to advance the policy prescriptions of its sister group, the Heritage Foundation.
A group linked to the Kochs, Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, disbursed more than $200 million last year to nonprofit organizations involved in the fight.
The groups, the article claimed, brought pressure on any Republican they saw as "soft" in their war against health care reforms.
It seems like the Koch brothers fibbed. 
The article also points out that this government shutdown plan- dare I say conspiracy- was hatched by none other than Ronald Reagan's former Attorney General Edwin Meese III shortly after President Obama started his second term. (That's the same guy who was directly involved in the Reagan Administration's secret plan to sell weapons to Iran back in 1986.)

Round of applause for Eddie, ladies and gentlemen.

A Republican Betrayal? 
But it would seem that the Republicans, with the official Koch brothers’ nod, now consider  the tactic of threatening to closed the government in order to de-fund Obamacare a bad idea. The last attempt was not quite a success. ObamaCare is picking up steam and literally billions of Koch dollars have been thrown at it. 
Putting a nice spin on yesterday's budget deal, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a member of a larger congressional budget panel, told reporters:
"I'm happy we're going to avoid raising taxes, going to stay within the budget caps and in addition, have some deficit reduction. And I'm pleased we're going to avoid a government shutdown."
He might be pleased but members of the the Tea Party may not be. Threatening to shut down the government- with all of the damaging effects it might cause to the struggling economy, to government workers, and to the very party that has nurtured this viper at her bosom,  is really the only tool the Tea Party had. 

For that group, Ryan’s budget negotiation will clearly be seen as a betrayal by old guard Republicans against the Tea Party upstarts. So, look for the Tea Party to unleash a jihad against the remaining sane Republicans come next election.

Cue Sarah "The Rogue" Palin to scramble onstage. This is, as you recall, the person who in the middle of the last shutdown attempt told Fox News that the Republicans shouldn't "fear some kind of government shutdown." Republicans, she said, must "stand firm," and "not blink," and not "allow the media to drive this whole narrative" that a shutdown would be bad for Republicans. Ignore reality, my people.
There's no arguing with that magical Palin logic.
And just, look how far the Republicans have come by listening to all her free advice.

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