The Real GOP

The more we get into the budget debacle, the more we discover that the bulk of the GOP is all show:

In normal times, the House and Senate would each pass a budget, the differences between those budgets would be resolved, and appropriators in both chambers would have binding limits both on how much money to spend, and on which large executive agencies to spend it.

But these aren’t normal times. Republicans have refused to negotiate away their budget differences with Democrats, and have instead instructed their appropriators to use the House GOP budget as a blueprint for funding the government beyond September.

Like all recent GOP budgets, this year’s proposes lots of spending on defense and security, at the expense of all other programs. Specifically, it sets the total pool of discretionary dollars at sequestration levels, then funnels money from thinly stretched domestic departments (like Transportation and HUD) to the Pentagon and a few other agencies. But that’s all the budget says. It doesn’t say how to allocate the dollars, nor does it grapple in any way with the possibility that cutting domestic spending so profoundly might be unworkable. It’s an abstraction.

But many close Congress watchers — and indeed many Congressional Democrats — have long suspected that their votes for Ryan’s budgets were a form of cheap talk. That Republicans would chicken out if it ever came time to fill in the blanks. Particularly the calls for deep but unspecified domestic discretionary spending cuts.

But they can’t do it. It turns out that when you draft bills enumerating all the specific cuts required to comply with the budget’s parameters, they don’t come anywhere close to having enough political support to pass. Even in the GOP House. Slash community development block grants by 50 percent, and you don’t just lose the Democrats, you lose a lot of Republicans who care about their districts. Combine that with nihilist defectors who won’t vote for any appropriations unless they force the President to sign an Obamacare repeal bill at a bonfire ceremony on the House floor, and suddenly you’re nowhere near 218.

This is the problem I’ve been having with the GOP and many of their adherents. They talk a big talk about how they want to slash government and cut it down and balance the budget. But when push comes to shove, their priorities quickly become increasing defense spending and not cutting anything else. Even their promises of tax reform are vague and not specific. It’s telling that the primary spending cuts the Republicans passed were across-the-board automated cuts where they didn’t have to make any tough decisions or formulate a specific plan.

What we are seeing is the difference between politicking and governing. Politicking is easy: you say a bunch of vague red meat conservative shit and thunder denunciations of Obama from the rooftops. It’s necessary to get votes but it doesn’t balance budgets. Governing does. But governing is hard. You have to make specific decisions. You have to kick sacred cows. And you have to work out a deal with the other party who represent half the country without pissing off your half. Some politicians — Ronald Reagan in particular — are exceptionally good at it. Most aren’t.

As a contrast of what governing really looks like, I give you Tom Coburn. Coburn, ever year, lists specific programs he wants to cut. Coburn, just recently, came out with hundreds of billions in tax loopholes he wants to close in exchange for lower tax rates. I don’t agree with everything in Coburn’s plans. But at least it’s a plan — a specific list of budget changes that would up to $9 trillion in deficit reduction, not some vague handwavy shit that counts on future Congresses to gut programs that they never will. And Coburn, incidentally, stakes out this detailed conservative position while being good friends with the President.

I hate to say this, since I disagree with Coburn a lot. But we need a lot more Tom Coburns in Congress: men and women who are more interested in governing than politicking. We are seeing some of that at the state level in the likes of Scott Walker, Chris Christie and, to some extent, Rick Perry. But on the national level? I don’t see very much inspiration.

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    Quite honestly, there are a few departments we can either do away with entirely or cut their operations back to reasonable levels, along with their budgets. HUD and Transportation among these. Sequestration levels of budget should be a place to start planning reductions FROM, so I’m good with this.

    Things we can easily do away with:

    BATFE

    Dept Of Education

    Drug Enforcement Agency

    Dept Of Energy

    And that’s with barely ten seconds of thought and half a cup of coffee…

    EPA

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  2. Section8

    Chris Christie

    I wouldn’t be so quick to praise this fat fuck. He’s going to be the next Michael Bloomberg. Mark my words.

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  3. AlexInCT

    I wouldn’t be so quick to praise this fat fuck. He’s going to be the next Michael Bloomberg. Mark my words.

    Agreed. I used to admire the guy, but I see how in a McCain like fashion, his need to get media attention has turned him into a douchebag that’s more in line with the nanny state belief of the progressives than anything conservative.

    And do not mistake my lack of enthusiasm for Christy with support for the other idiots in the republican party. The only reason I would vote for any of them is because the choice is always between stupid and evil, and given that choice I pick stupid.

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    Shorter: Christy has cut taxes, cut spending, balanced the budget, taken on the unions and turned New Jersey around. But he said nice things about Obama, so fuck him.

    This is precisely the problem with the GOP right now. The base rejects one of their most successful governors who has advanced a conservative agenda and is about to be re-elected in a landslide in a blue state because he doesn’t spend his time foaming at the mouth and screaming, “Obama sux!” I have my issues with Christie — his support for surveillance for example. But right now, he’s one of the sane lights in the GOP.

    SO, your comment illustrates the problem. In a vacuum, that would be great. But we have a Democratic Senate and a Democratic President. Pursuing that agenda will do … well, exactly what pursuing that has done for the last few years: fuck all. You do what Coburn is doing — find things that Democrats will agree to cut — and you’ll make progress. But the GOP would rather yell about their conservative ideas and accomplish nothing than work out a deal and accomplish something. This year, Obama offered for the second time to reign in Social Security and they walked away (http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/12/nation/la-na-pn-social-security-obama-gop-20130412).

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  5. AlexInCT

    Shorter: Christy has cut taxes, cut spending, balanced the budget, taken on the unions and turned New Jersey around. But he said nice things about Obama, so fuck him.

    Actually, he can line up and suck Obama’s cock and I wouldn’t care as much as I do about for example that the laws he signed that restricted gun ownership so he could score some points with the left. But fuck Obama, and while you might want to pretend otherwise, Christy is kissing his ass so he can score points with the media and nothing else. There are a whole lot more of these stupid things he is now supporting that for all intents and purposes negate the fact that he once did things right. Christy is heading down the same path as Bloomberg, and his ego is larger than Bloombergs.

    This is precisely the problem with the GOP right now.

    There are far bigger problems with the GOP than this shit Hal, but the biggest one is that everyone of these guys that got it right eventually, when exposed to the corrupting effect of government, bows down to the allure of power and fame. Our government, both at the federal and state level, and especially up here in the NE, has gotten too fucking big and it seems impossible to resist the temptation to go along with it even for people that meant well. You do not negotiate with the left. Bipartisan to them means do it their way. Every time the other side has tried to reach a compromise they and we the people ended up screwed, and the left ends up doing and getting what it wants. By now you would think people would figure out that we will not win as long as we keep ignoring that the left has neither rules nor morals when it comes to winning, and they will try to win at all costs. They mean it when they say the real enemy and the terrorists are the people that oppose them. It’s neither an exaggeration or bluff on their part: they believe that to be the truth.

    Oh yeah, and did I say fuck Obama already? Because I want to say it again.

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    As I said, I don’t see eye-to-eye with Christie on everything (although the guns laws he signed mostly strengthen existing penalties; he opposed laws banning .50 sales and tracking of bullet sales). There’s also cultural issues. But gun legislation is DOA with a Republican House anyway. If he could do to our national budget and economy what he did to New Jersey’s, I’ll take it.

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  7. Section8

    This is precisely the problem with the GOP right now. The base rejects one of their most successful governors who has advanced a conservative agenda and is about to be re-elected in a landslide in a blue state because he doesn’t spend his time foaming at the mouth and screaming, “Obama sux!”

    He doesn’t have to foam at the mouth or scream it. He also doesn’t have to suck his dick right before presidential elections, but then again if one secretly hopes Obama wins then this wouldn’t be an issue either.

    Regarding Rand Paul and libertarians opposing the NSA

    “These esoteric, intellectual debates — I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and the orphans and have that conversation. And they won’t, because that’s a much tougher conversation to have,” Christie said.
    “The next attack that comes, that kills thousands of Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back on the people having this intellectual debate and wondering whether they put …” Christie said before trailing off.

    — Chris Christie

    Link

    Fuck Christie. Why doesn’t he go to every military family member who lost a loved one fighting for this nation, or a military member still alive that made it out and, as well as the rest of us, and explain why we are all just as suspect as the assholes they fought against. I want to hear him explain that. Pulling this shit of talk to the children of the families of the victims is fucking disgusting and basically says if you value your freedom you’re mocking the victims of 9/11.

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  8. Hal_10000 *

    Actually, he can line up and suck Obama’s cock and I wouldn’t care

    Nah. The fat man won’t stand in line behind the entire crew of MSNBC.

    S8, I was *very* disappointed with Christie on the surveillance issue.

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  9. Xetrov

    So what I can gather from the article in the OP is that we haven’t had a budget passed by Congress in five years because of Republicans. ? Might as well blame Bush.

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  10. Seattle Outcast

    This year, Obama offered for the second time to reign in Social Security and they walked away

    This operates under the assumption that Obama can be trusted in the slightest. He can’t be, so walking away from anything he offers is just prudent. Somehow, no matter what he was doing, it would be poisoned.

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  11. AlexInCT

    So what I can gather from the article in the OP is that we haven’t had a budget passed by Congress in five years because of Republicans. ? Might as well blame Bush.

    Isn’t that what they are trying? Reid runs the Senate and has basically prevented this from happening under orders from GWB. BooshChimpyMcHitler is the cause of all ebil!

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  12. Mississippi Yankee

    And you have to work out a deal with the other party who represent half the country without pissing off your half. Some politicians — Ronald Reagan in particular — are exceptionally good at it. Most aren’t.

    From what “I” remember of Reagan’s budget fight with the left was that he would allow taxes to be raised for a *promise* of budget cuts at a later date. In fact that democrat lie is the left’s equivalent of ‘I promise I won’t cum in your mouth’.

    And although your selectivity in both recent history and political flaws in mostly RINO is obvious you fail to see how THE LEFT is setting up ‘the free thinkers’ for another McCain.

    Christie’s support for amnesty, gun registration, AGW and a Big Brother NSA are all counter to the Constitution. So this, in my mind, makes him NOT a conservative in the larger sense but a manipulated tool of the DNC, perhaps a willing one at that.

    Oh and believing that Christie “turned New Jersey around” is not only foolish but wishful thinking.

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  13. West Virginia Rebel

    When you have a GOP leadership that thinks a Hillary mini-series is the greatest threat, they’ve got problems that go beyond who’s a real conservative and who isn’t.

    The problem with wandering around in the wilderness is that if you do it long enough, you keep running into trees.

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  14. Mississippi Yankee

    WVR, how is it humanly possible to miss the point of what the GOP is up in arms about? Here’s a clue, it’s not that there are 2 or maybe 3 bi-ops it’s WHEN.

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  15. Section8

    When you have a GOP leadership that thinks a Hillary mini-series is the greatest threat, they’ve got problems that go beyond who’s a real conservative and who isn’t.

    When you have so-called conservatives looking for anything they can consider a gotcha moment from the GOP regardless of the fact that they may have a point, i.e. the ethics behind so-called non biased media potentially running propaganda flicks before an election, then it may be time to just quit pretending to be a conservative.

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