Old School Republicans Won’t Cut It

Obama reportedly shoved back from the negotiating table and told Republicans, who won’t agree to his tax and spending increases, that he’s “taking this to the American people.”

But the American people want a balanced budget. They don’t want reduced spending; but they want to move towards a balanced budget. A new poll also shows that a majority of Americans do not want tax increases. Most seem to agree that even taxing the “rich” harms the private economy — where jobs are created and economies are built.

So what now? Republicans seem eager to pass the buck and let Obama take the hit for raising the debt limit, something else most Americans don’t want, at least in principle. This will backfire on Republicans, and it should. If Republicans really believed that raising the debt limit without the necessary spending cuts (and they’re right, we’re talking trillions) is dangerous for the economy, then why would they allow the reckless and big spending Obama to have such power? Not to mention the fact that the Constitution authorizes Congress to do the spending (and, by implication, any raising of debt limits), not the President. It would be interesting to see how, and if, the Supreme Court ever weighs in on this.

Obama already sees himself as an entitled little Prince who should get to do whatever he wants, elections be damned. What crazy twist of logic would lead Republicans, who in some respects have stood strong and principled throughout this budget battle, to now suddenly roll over?

It will backfire because the non-committed middle-of-the-roaders — who have no political ideology or substantive political opinions of any kind — will look at this action by Republicans and start to feel sorry for Obama. Obama will play this for all it’s worth, because although he’s no Reagan, and no FDR, he’s certainly good at playing the victim. A second term in office will probably be his, despite the tanking economy. Republicans might still hold the House, but so what? Obama will be setting the spending priorities going forward. And the band will play on.

The Republicans have long been known as the “stupid party” because of their unwillingness to take on socialist liberal orthodoxy, and for their incompetence in handling strategy, even when for rare periods they hold a majority in some part of the government. Since the Tea Party and the elections of 2010, the party has shown a tendency, overall, to have more of a spine. The impending collapse of their strategy lies in their willingness to hand responsibility (and unearned power) over to Obama. No party worthy of leadership would even consider such a thing. And no party run by people who really subscribe to the principles to which they claim to subscribe would ever allow it.

Think about it. If you really believe that capitalism and limited government are the way to go, and that massive deficit spending is destroying both the government and the private economy, then why would you hand power for raising the debt limit over to the far-left socialist President who embodies all the things you oppose? Only a sense of resignation and defeat would lead you to do such a thing. Or: A sense that your opposition really is right, after all. I have suspected all along that the Republican leadership — old-timers such as Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican who runs his party in the U.S. Senate — really don’t agree with the Tea Party types who insist that the Republicans act like a second party and refuse to budge on taxes and spending.

Notice I say taxes AND spending. That’s the key here. Old school Republicanism — the kind that reigned under George W. Bush and even Ronald Reagan — makes cutting taxes (or at least maintaining tax rates) the always primary, if not exclusive, goal. Republicans cut taxes but they don’t cut spending. (Democrats do neither.) This is consistent with McConnell’s proposed turnover of power for the debt limit to Obama. “We won’t let him raise taxes. So let him spend us into oblivion.” The blood will be on Obama’s hands, right?

I don’t think so. Beware of any strategies, McConnell’s or anyone else’s, designed by the GOP to pass the buck.

The Tea Party has made a name for itself, not primarily by beating liberals and socialist Democrats, although they did plenty of that in 2010. They have primarily made a name for themselves by getting rid of old school Republicans who aid the cause of liberal Democrat socialism as much as Democrats themselves. They have their work cut out for them in 2012, and beyond, in building what has yet to become a completely new second party. In the meantime, the economy will continue to suffer. And any wavering, cowardly Republicans who sell out to Obama will share part of the blame.