Opinion: GOP leaders deserve more credit

October 15, 2013


— Liberals constantly lecture, more in theatrical sorrow than in actual anger, about their eagerness to compromise with Republicans, just not with Republicans who are — liberal moderation expresses itself immoderately — hostage-taking terroristic anarchistic jihadist suicide bombers. But Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins, the very model of moderation, spoiled the Democrats’ piety charade by demonstrating its insincerity when she suggested this compromise:

Republicans would support a continuing resolution funding the government for six months at the sequester levels of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which was produced by that year’s debt-ceiling negotiations. Republicans would also support raising the debt ceiling to enable the government to borrow enough to finance the substantial deficit spending involved in even sequester-level spending. (The sequester’s supposed severity does not come close to balancing the budget.) Republicans also would grant agencies greater flexibility in administering the sequester’s cuts.

In exchange, Collins asked for only two things. First, a mere delay, and for just two years, of Obamacare’s medical-device tax, which is so “stupid” — Sen. Harry Reid’s characterization — that bipartisan majorities in both houses of Congress favor outright repeal. Second, enforcement of income-verification criteria for those seeking Obamacare’s insurance subsidies — criteria the administration wrote but waived.

Here Collins was asking not for alteration of, but for enforcement of, Obamacare. Just as many Republicans believe the Democrats’ primary goal regarding immigration reform is to turn as many immigrants as possible into voters as quickly as possible, many Republicans also believe the Democrats’ primary goal regarding Obamacare is to turn as many people as possible into subsidy recipients as quickly as possible. Hence Democrats’ aversion to income criteria to prevent fraud.

Democrats refused Collins’ bargain, giving several reasons but really having only one important one: They loathe the sequester, which prevents them from opening the spending spigot. Their knees ache from genuflecting before they altar of a “clean” continuing resolution and a “clean” debt-ceiling increase. They insist it is a sin against good government to attach any conditions to either.

Suddenly, however, they decided that conditions are imperative. They now favor attaching to a government funding or debt-ceiling measure a change in the Budget Control Act intended to weaken the sequester.

Barack Obama, who says you did not see and hear him draw a red line regarding Syrian chemical weapons (“the world” drew it), insists: “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.” This neon fib, made during last year’s campaign, matters because the sequester has become the main bone of contention in the shutdown and debt-ceiling dramas.

According to Bob Woodward’s meticulously reported book “The Price of Politics,” in the summer of 2011, with Republicans refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless spending would be cut an equal amount, Obama and his principal economic advisers blundered by not recognizing how the Republican Party has changed. Obama proposed that if Republicans would not agree to tax increases as well as spending cuts, the sequester would take half the cuts from defense. Republicans, Obama and his aides thought, would flinch from this.

Now Obama knows how wrong he was. Liberals, having long reviled Republicans as obsequious servants of big business and the military, are living miserably with the sequester cuts because Republicans now are resistant to business and military entreaties to open the government and raise the debt ceiling without preconditions.

Those House Republicans who dislike the Obama administration but detest Senate Republicans should understand how the moderate Collins has forced Democrats to drop their mask of moderation. And all House Republicans should understand that the victory won in the summer of 2011 — the sequester, achieved by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — still torments Democrats.

As House Speaker John Boehner struggles to manage his turbulent House caucus, he should remember Casey Stengel’s advice about managing a baseball team: “Keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.” No Republicans hate Boehner, but many are undecided about him because they do not understand the hammer — the sequester — he put in their hands.

— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


Richard Heckler 4 years ago

Who wins under the default umbrella? Certainly not the lions share of citizens … as always.

If House Republicans don't agree to raise the nation's debt ceiling the nation's borrowing costs would spike, as would interest rates for average Americans, and the stock market would plummet. But not everyone will lose if a default causes an economic catastrophe.

Those who could profit from a financial calamity are short sellers, investors in gold and silver, bitcoin investors, currency traders,Pawn shops, bankruptcy lawyers, mortgage servicers and the canned and freeze-dried food industries. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/10/who-would-benefit-government-default

Considering all of the above plus all that’s been lost as a result of stupid political games why are republicans are STILL refusing to increase the debt ceiling as they should.

The GOP are saying they are willing to approve a short term increase which is long enough to get them through the upcoming election cycle.

Will more shenanigans allow the very smart and very rich who invest in USA bonds and such to rest easy? Likely not from what I read. Can we say what’s with our reckless politicians?

As if the Reagan/Bush home loan scandal were not enough there were millions more jobs lost as a result of the world wide calamity aka Bush/Cheney home loan fiasco. This GOP party is all about economic chaos NOT economic growth and new industry.

This GOP can put people out of work at the speed of light but is incapable of putting these unfortunate workers back to work. Putting millions of workers back to work is the key to reviving this economy

Richard Heckler 4 years ago

The debt-ceiling crisis threatens not just the president's constitutional duty to make payments on the public debt but also the accompanying requirement that he spend money lawfully appropriated by Congress, either as part of a yearly budget or as part of statutes authorizing “entitlement” payments like Medicare or veterans' benefits.

Failing to do any of these things would be a default on the president's duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The president may not be able to obey all three sources of law; if so, Obama should make the payments and ignore the debt ceiling.

“The debt ceiling is the fiscal equivalent of the human appendix — a law with no discoverable purpose,” he writes. “If Congress leaves the debt ceiling at a level inconsistent with duly enacted spending and tax laws, the president has no choice but to ignore it.”


Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

OK, who's going to come clean my monitor of the coffee I just spewed all over it?
No Republicans hate Boehner? Explain, then, Mr. Will, why approval polls have dropped to their lowest level since 1935. To quote Chris Matthews to Ted Cruz, yesterday, "What planet are you living on?"
What is it about the Right and reality that has such a disconnect? The fantasy world they live in is better than anything that J.R.R.Tolkien ever came up with. The Tea Party has become the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

Cait McKnelly 4 years ago

“I guess that we could get lower in the polls. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now,” - Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.)

Richard Payton 4 years ago

Can anyone name a current Democrat that favors Republican issues? John McCain is one of a few Republicans that favor Democrats over Republican ideas. Hope Arizona begins to see this man for the party he represents.

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 12 months ago

Current Blue Dog Democrats in congress

John Barrow (GA-12), Co-Chair for Administration Sanford Bishop (GA-2) Jim Cooper (TN-5), Co-Chair for Policy Jim Costa (CA-20) Henry Cuellar (TX-28) Pete Gallego (TX-23) Dan Lipinski (IL-3)[31] Jim Matheson (UT-4) Mike McIntyre (NC-7) Mike Michaud (ME-2) Collin Peterson (MN-7) Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Co-Chair for Communications David Scott (GA-13) Mike Thompson (CA-5)

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 12 months ago

The blue dogs were more numerous in the US house prior to 2010 and 2012 elections. Richard, do you even understand congressional politics? You are asking a really foolish question. It's the replicants that tend to vote in lockstep.

JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 12 months ago

Autocorrect error. I was trying to type Republicans, not replicants. Though replicants seems oddly appropriate.

George Lippencott 4 years ago

Here is the problem. The Republicans want to address it. So far the Democrats don't seem to want to talk about i other than suggesting unspecified tax increases.


JayhawkFan1985 3 years, 12 months ago

Interesting that your link goes to "page not found" much like GOP reasonableness

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