Thursday, February 10, 2011


Here's the New York Times story on recent stumbles by the House GOP:

House Republicans Battle Turmoil in Their Ranks

Under pressure to make deeper spending cuts and blindsided by embarrassing floor defeats, House Republican leaders are quickly discovering the limits of control over their ideologically driven and independent-minded new majority.

For the second consecutive day, House Republicans on Wednesday lost a floor vote due to a mini-revolt, this time over a plan to demand a repayment from the United Nations....

The spending rebellion came after the House on Tuesday rejected what was expected to be a routine temporary extension of anti-terrorism Patriot Act provisions when Democrats and about two dozen conservative Republicans balked at a fast-track procedure. Republicans, still searching for their footing after assuming control in January, were also forced to pull a trade assistance bill from the floor after conservatives raised objections. They found themselves mediating other internal fights as well....

The headline at Politico is "Growing Pains: House GOP Stumbles." Now, why is that the headline? And why is "Turmoil" in the Times headline? The Politico story explains:

Democrats, however, are gleefully sending out press releases with the word "disarray" in the subject line....

So you've successful spun the press, Democrats. That's lovely. But is that really the salient point here? I'd say the salient point is this:

House Republican leaders under fire from fellow conservatives for backtracking on a promise to cut $100 billion in spending this year are suddenly trying to meet that goal, according to a senior House GOP aide.

And, per the Times, those cuts are going to be nasty -- and as I see it, very much driven by wingnut-media-driven resentments:

In advance of a planned release Thursday of the House Republican plan to finance the government through Sept. 30, members of the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday disclosed some of the cuts lawmakers were proposing.

Among 60 programs in line for elimination were the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, AmeriCorps and a $298 million Clinton-era program for hiring local police officers. Other planned cutbacks included nearly $900 million in energy conservation and efficiency programs; $1.8 billion from the Environmental Protection Agency; and $75 million from legal-aid programs. In a swipe at the administration, the bill would eliminate $5 billion in high-speed rail money.

I'm surprised they didn't put in funding for ACORN, just so they could have the exquisite satisfaction of liminating it again.

Is this "disarray"? Or is it just the Ultras quite successfully dragging their party -- and the rest of D.C. -- even further rightward? Because this doesn't take us to a point beyond the pale. This redefines what's within the pale.

Mainstream Republicans will now get on board with this. Progressive opposition will, as usual, be utterly invisible outside the progressive ghetto. The definition of "leftism" and "socialism" will now be "anything to the left of this."

All of which would be fine if the inevitable failure of this (as a result of a lost vote in the Senate or a presidential veto) would be followed by economic recovery and job growth, thus signaling that Democrats were right to oppose the cuts. But you know that there isn't going to be much job growth anytime soon. This isn't the second coming of the Clinton presidency.

So this will now be the new baseline for "common sense" -- the approach Obama mulishly refused to take.

Unless, by some miracle, Democrats and progressives actually get the general public upset about the GOP's proposals. But that ain't gonna happen. At this point, I'm not even sure a government shutdown will be blamed primarily on the Republicans.

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