A lot of people thought the GOP was retreating from the conscious embrace of chaos and dysfunction when that nice young Paul Ryan helped negotiate a bipartisan budget agreement. But Ryan acknowledged yesterday that his fellow Republicans haven't really quit their old ways:
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) signaled that Republicans would not raise the debt ceiling next year without some sort of concessions from Democrats, saying lawmakers were still crafting their strategy.Reportedly, Ryan is counseling the GOP to come up with "targeted demands that Democrats might be willing to accept," demandes that are "nuanced." But targeted, nuanced demands are still demands, backed by the threat of default.
"We, as a caucus, along with our Senate counterparts, are going to meet and discuss what it is we want to get out of the debt limit," Mr. Ryan said on Fox News Sunday. "We don't want 'nothing' out of the debt limit. We're going to decide what it is we can accomplish out of this debt limit fight." ...
So Ryan's party isn't truly tamed. We Americans thought we were sending a message to the GOP in October that we were appalled by government shutdowns and default threats. The first part of that message got through, at least to some Republicans -- Ryan's budget deal would give us two shutdown-free years if it passes -- but not the second part.
And the budget deal may not pass. It needs eight Republican votes in the Senate to overcome the inevitable filibuster, and Republicans who either face tea party challenges in 2014 or want to run for president in 2016 are signaling that they intend to vote against it.
That group includes Mitch McConnell. Yup, even as McConnell, according to The Wall Street Journal, is out there begging military contractors to donate to the kinds of establishment Republicans who won't support cuts to the military budget there's a budget agreement that alleviates sequester cuts to the military budget, and he's voting no:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell recently delivered a direct pitch to one of America's top defense contractors: Get off the sidelines and start backing Republicans who will protect military spending.But Mitch, you're about to vote to sustain "spending cuts [that] have trumped robust national-security spending."
Mr. McConnell's message, according to people who attended a Nov. 6 fundraiser with officials from BAE Systems Inc., was that if Republican lawmakers lose primary elections from challengers further to their right who have few qualms about trimming military budgets, the defense industry could expect dwindling support in Washington.
"In the current debate, spending cuts have trumped robust national-security spending," said one person at the McConnell fundraiser, held at a Capitol Hill townhouse. "The main message he was pushing was: Get involved, mainly to teach those who are primarying incumbents that it is not helpful to run against incumbents who are champions for the industry." ...
Well, Ryan and McConnell have taken baby steps, and I suppose that's bravery of a sort. Hey, if the defense contractors and others come through big time on behalf of the establishment GOP, maybe the party will go back to just screwing the poor instead of also threatening to inflict collateral damage on everyone else, including the rich and powerful. At this point, that would actually be progress.
(The post title alludes, of course, to "It's a Good Life," the classic Twilight Zone episode about what happens when you combine bratty immaturity with limitless power.)