Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Are Republicans Crazy? (cont.)

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I’ve been arguing (see e.g., here) that the Tea Party faction of the Republican House caucus can’t really be as crazy as it sometimes appears. I have to admit that the debt-ceiling negotiations are getting to the point where they’re testing that proposition.

Consider what smart conservatives, like Yuval Levin, are saying about the contending Boehner and Reid plans for raising the debt-ceiling:
"As the details of the Boehner bill become clearer, it’s increasingly apparent that the bill is just what the moment calls for: significant cuts achieved through statutory sequestration caps, no tax increase, no backsliding on entitlement reform or implicit acceptance of Obamacare, a path to another process that could lead to more cuts without tax increases, and the setting of a precedent that from now on increases in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by proportional spending cuts. . . . Even the Reid bill, though its cuts are less real, would be a better conclusion than has seemed plausible throughout much of this process . . .”
In a generous spirit, let's concede: first, that there’s room for a reasonable divergence of conservative opinion as to what counts as an acceptable compromise between the Boehner and Reid plans; and second, that it’s not unreasonable for liberals to think that, but for Republican craziness, we would never have gotten to the point where a credit downgrade on U.S. Treasuries, much less a public default, were more than theoretical possibilities. As to these matters, what you reasonably see is probably inevitably a function of where you stand ideologically.

But what if, after all that has happened, the House can't pass the Boehner plan with only Republican votes?  For my money, that ought to count as certifiable craziness from any standpoint.


Anonymous said...

Not sure I follow you. If the bill passes the House with a combination of Dem and Republican votes, isn't that better -- from a bipartisan/ unity standpoint -- than passing it with only Republican votes? Surely some Republicans won't vote for it thinking it doesn't go far enough. Does that make them crazy?

Lone Wolf said...

Boehner is the face of the Republican Party, and will be for at least the eight months until there's a presumptive Republican presidential nominee. If he can't get his deal through the House, he's finished as Speaker leaving the House Republicans leaderless in upcoming battles with Senate Democrats and the White House. Would the Tea Partiers really do that to themselves over the debt ceiling? I don't see it.

Glenn said...

How come Pelosi could get House blue dogs to cut their own throat politically by voting for things like Cap and Trade, but its so hard for Boehner to get Tea Partiers to vote for his plan when it represents a victory over Obama? It doesn't make sense.

Dave said...

Glenn -- I suspect that political moderates (such as the Blue Dogs) are, by their nature, far more pragmatic and easier to bargain with than ideologues (such as the Tea Party caucus).

Lone Wolf -- I could see the Tea Partiers do "to themselves" exactly what you suggest. This issue -- spending and taxes -- is the precise reason why they're in Washington. Their loyalty is not to Boehner or the GOP, and so a GOP "victory over Obama" is, for many of them, not even a small motivating factor.

Anonymous said...

I was with you Dave until you said victory over Obama is not even a small motivating factor. Obama's not only the main obstacle to the TP agenda, he's a symbol of everything they hate. How can they be indifferent to handing him a political victory that will increase his chance of getting reelected?

Anonymous said...

I think it's too early to tell whether Republicans go with Boehner. The devil is in the details so they are rewriting the bill. I can't believe they are not going to get behind something. The cost is too high.