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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: GOP should employ resistance strategy

January 19, 2013

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— It has become conventional wisdom that Republicans are suffering an internal split that President Obama is successfully exploiting to neuter the Republican House. It is not true, however, that the Republican split is philosophical and fundamental. And that a hopelessly divided GOP is therefore headed for decline, perhaps irrelevance.

In fact, the split is tactical, not philosophical; short-term, not fundamental. And therefore quite solvable.

How do we know? Simple thought experiment: Imagine that we had a Republican president. Would the party be deeply divided over policy, at war with itself in Congress? Not at all. It would be rallying around something like the Paul Ryan budget that twice passed the House with near 100 percent GOP unanimity.

In reality, Republicans have a broad consensus on program and policy. But they don’t have the power. What divides Republicans today is a straightforward tactical question: Can you govern from one house of Congress? Should you even try?

Can you shrink government, restrain spending, bring a modicum of fiscal sanity to the country when the president and a blocking Senate have no intention of doing so?

One faction feels committed to try. It wishes to carry out its small-government electoral promises and will cast no vote inconsistent with that philosophy. These are the House Republicans who voted no on the “fiscal cliff” deal because it raised taxes without touching spending. Indeed, it increased spending with its crazy-quilt crony-capitalist tax “credits” — for wind power and other indulgences.

They were willing to risk the fiscal cliff. Today they are willing to risk a breach of the debt ceiling and even a government shutdown rather than collaborate with Obama’s tax-and-spend second-term agenda.

The other view is that you cannot govern from the House. The reason Ryan and John Boehner finally voted yes on the lousy fiscal-cliff deal is that by then there was nowhere else to go. Republicans could not afford to bear the blame (however unfair) for a $4.5 trillion across-the-board tax hike and a Pentagon hollowed out by sequester.

The party establishment is coming around to the view that if you try to govern from one house — e.g., force spending cuts with cliffhanging brinkmanship — you lose. You not only don’t get the cuts. You get the blame for rattled markets and economic uncertainty. You get humiliated by having to cave in the end. And you get opinion polls ranking you below head lice and colonoscopies in popularity.

There is history here. The Gingrich Revolution ran aground when it tried to govern from Congress, losing badly to President Clinton over government shutdowns. Nor did the modern insurgents do any better in the 2011 debt-ceiling and 2012 fiscal-cliff showdowns with Obama.

Obama’s postelection arrogance and intransigence can put you in a fighting mood. I sympathize. But I’m tending toward the realist view: Don’t force the issue when you don’t have the power.

The debt-ceiling deadline is coming up. You can demand commensurate spending cuts, the usual, reasonable Republican offer. But you won’t get them. Obama will hold out. And, at the eleventh hour, you will have to give in as you get universally blamed for market gyrations and threatened credit downgrades.

The more prudent course would be to find some offer that cannot be refused, a short-term trade-off utterly unassailable and straightforward. For example, offer to extend the debt ceiling through, say, May 1, in exchange for the Senate delivering a budget by that date — after four years of lawlessly refusing to produce one.

Not much. But it would (a) highlight the Democrats’ fiscal recklessness, (b) force Senate Democrats to make public their fiscal choices and (c) keep the debt ceiling alive as an ongoing pressure point for future incremental demands.

Go small and simple. Forget about forcing tax reform or entitlement cuts or anything major. If Obama wants to recklessly expand government, well, as he says, he won the election.

Republicans should simply block what they can. Further tax hikes, for example. The general rule is: From a single house of Congress you can resist but you cannot impose.

Aren’t you failing the country, say the insurgents? Answer: The country chose Obama. He gets four years.

Want to save the Republic? Win the next election. Don’t immolate yourself trying to save liberalism from itself. If your conservative philosophy is indeed right, winning will come. As Margaret Thatcher said serenely of the Labor Party socialists she later overthrew: “They always run out of other people’s money.”

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Gotland 1 year, 2 months ago

I am developing enough contempt for the intelligence of the average American I am becoming an Obama Democrat.

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Armstrong 1 year, 2 months ago

The GOP should use the lemming stragegy. Sit back and watch the D's take everyone over the cliff. A disaster elected by the takers, of the takers and for the takers.

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Agnostick 1 year, 2 months ago

Uuhhmmm... as if the GOP has been doing something else?

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jayhawklawrence 1 year, 2 months ago

Interesting title to this column and I suppose we can say that Krauthammer wants to be the leader of the resistance.

We used to call them saboteurs.

Saboteur: "A person who destroys or ruins or lays waste to; "a destroyer of the environment";

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notaubermime 1 year, 2 months ago

"If your conservative philosophy is indeed right, winning will come."

I believe that this is the reason why one has to "imagine" that there is a Republican president in office right now in the first place.

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jonas_opines 1 year, 2 months ago

I'd have voted for a Unicorn over both major parties, to be honest.

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beatrice 1 year, 3 months ago

"Imagine that we had a Republican president."

Haha. That is some imagination. How about we imagine that unicorns exist. After all, if one were to run for President it would likely get more electoral votes than Romney.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 3 months ago

More obstructionism will create more marginalization. Listen to Krauty, GOP, and you'll never see the Oval Office again.

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scott3460 1 year, 3 months ago

President Obama convinced the country that his view of fiscal priorities was superior in the last election. What do you suppose the result will be when such a budget is produced and blocked by repugs?

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Steven Gaudreau 1 year, 3 months ago

The GOP should become democrats, scrap the repub vs demo system and make changes from within. The GOP is old, tired and out of touch.

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msezdsit 1 year, 3 months ago

Grasping for stars krauthsy. However, what you have divulged is that the republican party can't get along with anybody, not even themselves. Even if you pretend they won the presidency. By the way Chuckie, they didn't win the presidency so your little pipe dream is just that.

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Trumbull 1 year, 3 months ago

"so, insisting that spending be cut in order that the debt limit be raised is only reasonable"

This is like saying, I will not pay my credit card bill, unless I cut my spending.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

yeah L275, I know I could've saved some words, but felt like "shill" was just too short for his mental pollution, i.e. his multilie posting above RE guns, terrorism, savings and loans, etc., etc., etc., ad nauseum

hey Merrill, in case you had trouble finding that story that disproves your hypercut-and-paste fetish, here it is: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2013/jan...

*now, re republican resistance, it is the only right thing to do. from one side of his mouth the president admitted that raising taxes in this bad economy would hurt the recovery, yet he insists on raising taxes.

furthermore, debt, massive Obama debt is its own kind of tax on the economy when it is this size and slows growth.

so, insisting that spending be cut in order that the debt limit be raised is only reasonable.

it's like in the real world family when you run out of money and out of room on your credit cards. get real.

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WristTwister 1 year, 3 months ago

Novel idea. Insist that the Democrat controlled Senate own the debt they have been piling on the taxpayers for four years. Obama does not want a budget. It would crimp his style too much.

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Liberty275 1 year, 3 months ago

Representatives and senators should vote the way their constituency expects then too. I can only hope Americans keep opposition in the congress and not enough senators of like mind to break a filibuster.

Government in gridlock helps keep America free.

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Trumbull 1 year, 3 months ago

"Today they are willing to risk a breach of the debt ceiling and even a government shutdown rather than collaborate with Obama’s tax-and-spend second-term agenda."

A breach of the debt ceiling is like deciding not to pay your credit card bill. This is messing with the solvency of the United States currenency and obligation. In my mind this is economic sabatoge that could create a financial crisis world-wide. It would be greater than the 2008 crash. If politicians are willing to do this they need to be booted out of office.

Said it before and I say it again. The debt ceiling and the budget are two separate issues.

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

hey Merrill, didn't see you post on the low vacancy blog story! oh yeah, that's right, because it disproves everything you say.

Merrill, you are completely without basis of fact and just keep cut-and-pasting on here. you are the Godfather to the local Occupy nuts.
you are a walking liberal cliche.

1

bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

considering that even Michelle Dowery, Obama Phone Woman, has turned against Obama, and many poorly informed people have suddenly awakened along with her to Obama's lies, Obama's losing traction fast now.

I had an interesting talk with a black small businessman a couple weeks ago. he told me directly he regrets his vote for Obama because he just faced his health insurance premium increase, a huge one, on top of Obama's promise to target hard working businessmen like him who earned above a certain income because of putting in very long hours and much personal risk.
another 20-something who used to adore Obama now spits at the TV when he speaks because of his lies about taxes.

I tried to warn .

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bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

"resistence strategy?"
spelling by the wire or LJW?

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weeslicket 1 year, 3 months ago

well, cal did get this paragraph correct:

The party establishment is coming around to the view that if you try to govern from one house — e.g., force spending cuts with cliffhanging brinkmanship — you lose. You not only don’t get the cuts. You get the blame for rattled markets and economic uncertainty. You get humiliated by having to cave in the end. And you get opinion polls ranking you below head lice and colonoscopies in popularity.

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average 1 year, 3 months ago

Considering the weakness of the GOP House holding, more of the same? Look Repubs, you've lost House seats in two straight elections. In the 2012 elections, over 1.3 MILLION more people actually voted for a Democratic member of the House than a Republican (districts being drawn the way they are is the only reason Boehner is Speaker and not Pelosi).

Most people would look at that trendline and consider some changes. Unless you think calculus is a communist plot.

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Cait McKnelly 1 year, 3 months ago

It's "resistance", not "resistence". Can I get a spell checker please?

1

Richard Heckler 1 year, 3 months ago

Massive Unemployment by way of supply side economics is not a fiscal responsible economic growth plan. 33 years of failure has been documented.

Tax Corp USA $75,000 for every USA job sent abroad each year that jobs stays abroad. Tax every leveraged buyout scheme another $75,000 per job sent abroad. INSTEAD of providing the tax code that protects the profits as a result of those USA industries and jobs sent abroad.

No one can prepare for terrorism because no on knows if or when terrorism will strike. Look at all the tax dollars spent on crime fighting yet crime is still on the rise even in Lawrence,Ks.

Of course if 20 million unemployed had good paying jobs again there would likely be less crime and violence.

Massive home loan scams create crime and violence by putting millions upon millions out work and homes = depression and more crime.

Real good jobs = less crime and violence.

20 million jobs to replace the 20 million lost by way of leveraged buyout artists and Wall Street bankers should fix the economy.

If guns were the answer the USA should be the safest place on earth. I say put people back to back at no less than $17.50 per hour instead.... and remove assault weapons from the retail market. Now the USA might be on to something.

The USA cannot afford massive unemployment nor access to assault weapons.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 3 months ago

THe GOP has been the party of resistance to new industry,new jobs and economic growth going on 33 years. It is known as supply side economics.

And instead of supporting an assault weapons ban they support arming anyone that can get their hands on dangerous weapons to go kill lots of people. It is their right to kill lots of people with their gun of choice.

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Gandalf 1 year, 3 months ago

Thank god, charlie is back his same old nut farm. I don't think I could have handled agreeing with two opinions in a row!

"What divides Republicans today is a straightforward tactical question: Can you govern from one house of Congress? Should you even try? "

Answer is NO. A one house majority is not a madate by any stretch. Government includes boht chambers, the president and SCOTUS. When any party earns the label of the party of no, by stating their only goal is to make a president a one term president, and destroy US credibility, economy and credit rating in the process, has no concept of government.

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