U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz got it exactly right when he wrote the following at Politico.com [9-23-15]
Today, President Barack Obama fights relentlessly for his liberal priorities. Like the Terminator, he never gives up, he never stops. And Republican leadership responds to every challenge by surrendering at the outset.
President Obama demands of Congress: fund all of Obamacare, with no changes to help the millions being hurt by that failed law, or he will veto funding for the entire federal government. And Republican leadership backs down. President Obama demands: fund his unconstitutional executive amnesty—or he will veto funding for the entire federal government. And Republican leadership backs down. President Obama demands: give $500 million in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood, a private organization under criminal investigation—or he will veto funding for the entire federal government. And Republican leadership backs down.
It’s undeniably true. Whether you agree with Republicans on everything (or anything) or not, he describes the facts plainly and objectively, as they are.
The core of this capitulation comes from Republican leadership’s promise that “There will be no government shutdown.” On its face, the promise sounds reasonable. Except in practice it means that Republicans never stand for anything.
If leadership is correct that we can never win against the president, why did it matter to win a Republican House? A Republican Senate? If Republican majorities in Congress will acquiesce to and affirmatively fund the identical Big Government priorities that Obama supports, then what difference does it make who is in charge of Congress?
Like Charlie Brown and the football, this disconnect explains the massive frustration with Washington. The American people do not believe Republicans will actually do what we say we will do.
Strategically, Cruz is correct. The reason given by Republican leaders for not opposing Obama on anything is: “If we do not do what Obama says, we will have to close down the government.”
The unspoken premise, accepted by Republicans and Democrats alike is, “If the government shuts down, it’s the Republicans’ fault.”
But why or how is that necessarily the case?
If Obama says, “Do what I want, or I will shut down the government,” it’s his own choice. Constitutionally, Congress does not have to fund anything it does not wish to fund. Granted, it makes sense for them to choose their battles carefully. But by refusing, as if on principle, never to choose a battle at all — to act, in effect, as a pacifist, letting your adversary run over you, at will, again and again — is a literal surrender.
That’s why, in practice, there’s absolutely no difference in what the government does whether the Republicans “run” Congress, or whether it goes back to Democrats. The policies, the spending, the end results — they are all precisely the same.
Obama may be within his Constitutional rights to tell Congress, “Do what I say, or you will have to shut down the government.” However, if he chooses this tactic, he has to be held accountable for it. You cannot solely blame Republicans if the government shuts down because of a tactic Obama chose.
Nor can you argue, “Obama was elected twice as president by the majority of the public.” That’s a fact. But it’s an equal fact that Congress was elected to a Republican majority three times (in the House) and once (most recently) in the Senate. You cannot assert majority rule in two instances, but not any of the others.
Republican leaders like Speaker of the House John Boehner and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell know this. Only one of two things is possible. Either they do not believe any of the things they say when they run in elections, and promise to defund Obamacare, Planned Parenthood, and the like; or they do mean these things, but they are total, spineless cowards when put to the test.
Either way, they should go. In fact, they should have been long gone as “leaders” of their party.
Otherwise, having Republicans “in charge” of Congress is actually worse than having Democrats in charge. Because Republicans will be held responsible (more than Obama, based on polls) for damages inflicted by a legislative and ideological agenda that is one hundred percent Obama’s.
You could not design a worse situation than what we have, from the point-of-view of wanting alternatives to Obama’s economic and defense policies. Ted Cruz nails it completely, on this point.
Remember that Democrats, in both theory and practice, are the party of unlimited, expansive government. Unlimited and expansive government requires constant spending. That spending is so far out of hand that the debt limit is raised again and again, saddling people yet to be born with unpayable debt and unforeseen economic consequences because of this fact. Congress has both the Constitutional right and responsibility to curb that debt, even if there are screams, outcry and lost elections because of it. In the years of Republican Congresses that has not happened at all — not even a tiny bit. Government is growing, spending and borrowing at a literally unending and infinite rate.
If Obama will not let the government continue to be open unless he gets his way, he must be held accountable for this fact. He is the president, after all, and has been for seven years. While Obama appears to enjoy and assert all the powers of the presidency, he does not have all of the responsibility, because most people will not hold him accountable for anything.
Republican leaders have turned their own party, and the half or so of the country who does not agree with Obama on nearly anything, into a doormat. This has infuriated people even more.
Something has got to change — real big, and real soon. It cannot go on like this.
I realize that Obama supporters are complacent and confident, because they are getting everything they want and appear likely to do so for the foreseeable future. But you cannot have a situation where half of the electorate — half of the country — is this furious.
It’s not sustainable.
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