The consequences for not cutting federal spending are dire for the nation. The midterms sent to Washington GOP Young Turks who vowed to get the nation’s finances in order. We finally had senators and representatives with the courage and seriousness to begin the process of stopping people in Washington from spending our money on things we don’t want and then demanding higher taxes. Or not:
On Thursday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel, Kristol said the Republicans were going to give in and agree to the terms set forth by the Obama administration.
“It sounds as if it’s heading towards a deal,” Kristol said. “It’s not a deal that I’m going to like I suspect, and think I it’s going to be a bad deal for conservatives and Republicans but I think they’re intimidated,” Kristol said. “The president has been running around talking about corporate jets and the rich, and how the sky is going to fall unless Republicans cave. And I think they’re getting ready to cave in a pretty big way on Sunday.”
Basing it on what Republicans leaders have said publicly, Kristol forecast that defense spending cuts, tax increases and other cuts would be dressed up to be more than they really are in the end. And that would lead to a conservative revolt against Republicans.
I was one of those optimists who said the GOP had really changed, that now they would really fight for us. Republicans have a long history of capitulating and them reaping bad consequences. In “Budget Danger Ahead,” James Capretta recalls one of these great moments in Republican valor:
In 1990, Richard Darman, who was director of the Office of Management and Budget, wanted to strike a budget deal to bring projected budget deficits down by $500 billion over five years. As a precondition for entering the talks, however, Democratic Senate majority leader George Mitchell demanded that Pres. George H. W. Bush renege, in writing, on his “no new taxes” pledge. The president did so at Darman’s urging, and from that moment on, the president’s standing and leverage plummeted. At crucial moments in the ensuing process, the tax increases kept getting larger and more onerous, and the spending cuts and entitlement reforms kept getting more ephemeral. In the end, it was just a question of how bad the political fallout would be for the president, which of course turned out to be very bad indeed.
Capretta says that in the current budget battle over the debt ceiling that the President wants to raise taxes without getting blamed and to be able to claim some (phony) tax cuts. None of the Democrats want to give on entitlements, which is the fundamental concern of their their base. The Democrats are willing to put some phony entitlement cuts on the table. Capretta argues that what is needed is fundamental entitlement reform, something Republicans understand (but may be too craven to get) but Democrats don’t want. Capretta says:
In the debt-limit talks, Republicans need to be very wary of confusing meaningless Medicare and Medicaid “cuts” with actual reforms that will make a difference. If the president and his allies have ruled out all variants of genuine reform – and the recent Medicare proposal from Sens. Joe Lieberman (I.) and Tom Coburn (R.) certainly counts as a first step toward genuine reform – then Republicans should make it clear that they have no incentive at all to make concessions.
Charles Krauthammer sees a way for the president, who has done nothing but put stuff we don’t want on the national Visa, to get Republicans to fold:
A clever strategy it is: Do nothing (see above); invite the Republicans to propose real debt reduction first; and when they do – voting for the Ryan budget and its now infamous and courageous Medicare reform – demagogue them to death.
And then up the ante by demanding Republican agreement to tax increases. So: First you get the GOP to seize the Left’s third rail by daring to lay a finger on entitlements. Then you demand the GOP seize the Right’s third rail by violating its no-tax pledge. A full-spectrum electrocution. Brilliant.
If Republicans mess up this time, I think Kristol is right about a revolt. The only question to my mind is whether the division would re-elect Barack Obama. This is a time for Republicans to stand firm. They should remember what happened to George H. W. Bush, who was persuaded by the media that raising taxes was the “statesmanlike” thing to do. It made him-deservedly-a one-term president.
It is said of the Bourbon dynasty that they never forgot and never learned. If the Republicans fold on the budget, they will be worse than the Bourbons–they always forget and never learn.