Republicans should know why Democrats are bluffing on the budget.
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This risks making Boehner look like a RINO, something he certainly doesn’t want and is not and would not be even if he went down that path. Furthermore, as we know that Nancy Pelosi has frequently been able to make individual Democrat congressmen make votes that they did not want to make, it’s possible that Pelosi will arm-twist wavering Democrats into not supporting a spending bill that cuts spending substantially but not as much as the Tea Party and conservative freshmen want. Pelosi’s motivation would be to make Boehner and the GOP look bad, look unable to govern even with a substantial majority, and to sow dissent within the ranks of the Republican Party. The more you think about it, the more it seems likely such a thing could happen.
If Boehner will not be able to pass a “compromise,” then he should not even try. The downside from failing is large. Indeed it’s the Democrats who have the 2:1 or 3:1 payoff from refusing to compromise in this scenario.
So, considering these factors:
• The real risk that a compromise bill may not pass the House,
• That a government shutdown, if plausibly caused by Democrats refusing to cut federal spending, would likely benefit not just the GOP but the nation itself, and
• That “compromise” on current levels of government spending is immoral and destructive,
I believe that House and Senate Republicans should not support only $33 billion in cuts in the remainder of this fiscal year. I could live with a so-called compromise if it weren’t a meeting-you-halfway compromise. In other words, if the original GOP proposal were $61 billion in cuts, and with the understanding that many House freshmen (and a few Senators) would prefer much larger cuts than that, I could nevertheless live with a “compromise” of $50 billion. $50 billion would be big enough that the GOP can claim massive cuts and can show that their being in the majority has made a difference. And it would be big enough that it would be hard for the Democrats to claim a political victory of any importance. Unfortunately, this very fact makes such a compromise that much less likely.
There is no easy political way out of this financial mess. But Republicans need to realize that the Democrats’ tactics are based entirely on political optics, not on any actual desire to cut spending or reach a compromise. With that in mind, a compromise of about 50% of the originally demanded cuts is a political loser for the GOP and a baby step toward fiscal sanity at a time when the nation is, for perhaps the first time in history, ready for a giant step.
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