Yes, Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation. That gets a high-profile crazy out of the upper chamber. However, Governor Nikki Haley gets to pick his replacement, who'll stay on for two years -- the next election for the seat will be in 2014 -- and the apparent favorite for the job, the guy DeMint himself prefers, is Congressman Tim Scott. Scott, as Amanda Terkel reminds us, suggested impeaching President Obama in 2011 if he tried to use the 14th Amendment to circumvent the debt ceiling:
While some have asserted that the debt limit might be unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment, and therefore President Obama does not need congressional approval to raise it, Republicans have been quick to express skepticism over the idea. On Tuesday, a Republican congressman went a step further, saying that if Obama were to use that argument to bypass Congress on the issue, it would be an impeachable offense.Scott has also said that "the greatest minority under assault today are Christians. No doubt about it." I don't believe Scott is even an inch to DeMint's left.
"This president is looking to usurp congressional oversight to find a way to get it done without us. My position is that is an impeachable act from my perspective," said Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) at a meeting sponsored by the Tea Party group LowCountry 9.12 Project....
Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that once-restive House Republicans are now solidly behind John Boehner. Fever broken there, at least? BooMan is skeptical:
I am not sure that I am sharing the same universe with Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times. She says that Speaker Boehner has never enjoyed stronger or more unified support from his caucus than he has now. How can that be? ...The House Republicans aren't becoming significantly more reasonable -- at best, they may be willing to accept some tax increases on the rich so they can engage in irresponsible brinkmanship over the debt ceiling in a couple of months without middle-class tax cuts hanging over their heads and giving the president leverage. Their fever may have gone down a degree, but it hasn't broken.
The backbenchers may be keeping their criticisms quiet, but that doesn't mean that are about to line up to vote for a tax increase on the top 2% of earners that is accompanied by few benefit cuts for Medicare and none for Social Security. Furthermore, the president is insisting that the debt ceiling be removed as a weapon. Perhaps the Republican Establishment wouldn't mind having that gun put back in a locked case, but I'd like to see John Boehner sell that to his Tea Party caucus....
And then there's Bobby Jindal, one of the GOP's Great 2016 Hopes. A month ago, he was quoted denouncing "dumbed-down conservatism" in an interview with Politico's Jonathan Martin. So what's he up to now? Dave Weigel explains:
One month later, Jindal returns to Politico with an op-ed about the sort of Republican ideas for reform "which would be worth fighting for in this fiscal cliff diving exercise." They are: a balanced budget amendment ..., a cap on spending to 18 percent of GDP, a 2/3 majority for any tax increase, and term limits. As much of this as possible should be linked to a debt limit hike that's "one-time, limited, and accompanied by structural reform."These aren't just dumb, warmed-over ideas -- they're dangerous ideas. The point of a balanced budget amendment and supermajority requirements for tax increases is to make Keynesian illegal, or as close to illegal as possible. Had these measures been in effect during the financial crisis, they would have effectively prevented Presidents Bush and Obama from putting a floor under the economic collapse. We would have seen a full-blown depression. That's deep thinking from a guy who thinks he's the future of the GOP. That's not a sign of a broken fever.
These are not new ideas. They're dumbed-down ideas. The first three proposals were all part of Cut, Cap, and Balance, the first and most important conservative-led Republican ransom note on the debt limit.
... What's Jindal suggesting to Republicans? Because the president's first offer on the "fiscal cliff" was largely progressive, Republicans should respond with a microwaved version of their 2011 offer?