Reason TV: Get ready for disappointment

posted at 2:55 pm on January 4, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

I have no problem with rational skepticism when it comes to political claims and eventual outcomes, but usually I’d like for a fight to get started before I declare it a failure. My friends at Reason TV prefer to get ahead of the curve.  In their latest video, Reason asks how long they have to wait to declare the new Congress a failure on spending reductions, and then answers their own question by doing it now.  They base their conclusion on the failure of the 1994 Republican revolution to deliver any real spending reforms or reductions:

Ever since their midterm triumph, the GOP has talked tough about cutting spending. Here’s hoping they make good on those promises, but they spouted the same tough talk after their 1994 election triumph and look what happened.

Back then the Republican revolutionaries targeted more than 200 programs for complete and utter elimination. They scored some minor victories (adios helium fund!), but a decade into their “revolution” (and after they gained a Republican president) inflation-adjusted spending on the combined budgets of the 101 largest programs slated for elimination actually increased by 27 percent. (source: Cato)

And since then total federal spending has continued to soar, so why should we take Republicans seriously this time?

The countdown to disappointment starts now.

These are fair points, but it leaves out some significant context.  First, the GOP did challenge the Clinton administration on spending in 1995, the first year of their majority, and played chicken with Bill Clinton all the way through to a government shutdown.  The public was not prepared for that outcome and clearly didn’t want it, perhaps because the GOP won their majorities more on the back of several scandals and the attempt to impose HillaryCare rather than anger over spending, which hadn’t accelerated outside of historical norms at that time.  The political backlash quieted Republicans, who shifted to their K-Street strategy.

This time, however, spending was one of the most explicit mandates of the midterms.  Spending has rapidly accelerated over the last decade, and especially since Democrats took control of Congress in 2007, rising almost 40% annually over just three years.  Republicans have a greater mandate to challenge the Obama administration on budget issues than in 1995, and the Tea Party standing as a potential third-party threat if the GOP gets weak-kneed.  Republicans won’t win all of their battles, not with Democrats in charge of the Senate and the White House, but at least they have stronger political winds at their backs for a knock-down fight.

This will be a long process. Skepticism will be essential in keeping pressure on Republicans to fight, but defeatism before John Boehner gavels the House to order for the first time will be counterproductive to that effort.  Engagement will be the key.


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They better deliver or the Republic is doomed.

jawkneemusic on January 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

I think it’s completely fair. Past performance bears that out and I won’t be convinced until shown otherwise.

flytier on January 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

but defeatism before John Boehner gavels the House to order for the first time will be counterproductive to that effort. Engagement will be the key.

It’s not called “defeatism”. It’s called history repeating itself…over and over and over….

repvoter on January 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

John Boehner – cutting house office budget by 5%.

Oh my – what bravery – 5%. Goodness what next John?

jake-the-goose on January 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Amen.

I don’t think it helps anything, to assume anything. We may be disappointed, but we also may be pleasantly surprised. That being said…no one person can do everything for everyone, to make everyone happy either.

I won’t expect that I’d agree with everything, but on major issues, I really care about, I think they’ll come thru for us, if they can. Remember…trying, without clear majorities in both houses, is as good as doing, if we did have the majority.

capejasmine on January 4, 2011 at 3:01 PM

They’d change their view if they legalized pot though.

BKeyser on January 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM

Any magazine that spent much of the 2008 election providing a platform for Dave Weigel’s “Obamatarainism” probably shouldn’t be the first to run out and start declaring failure before the Speaker’s gavel has even been pried out of Nancy’s cold, liver spot-removing creamed hands.

jon1979 on January 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM

They better deliver or the Republic the GOP is doomed.

jawkneemusic on January 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

At that point you might see the end the GOP and beginning of the Tea Party as a replacment.

Oil Can on January 4, 2011 at 3:08 PM

John Boehner – cutting house office budget by 5%.

Oh my – what bravery – 5%. Goodness what next John?

jake-the-goose on January 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

he cries.

upinak on January 4, 2011 at 3:09 PM

How about a one page bill, real simple, we cut congressional pay, both the house and the senate, their expense accounts, and staff, five percent.

Cut five percent every year until the federal budget is in surplus.

real simple..

Skandia Recluse on January 4, 2011 at 3:11 PM

How tough can this be? You start by funding national defense — it’s in the Constitution, it’s required, and you can’t turn it off and on. You fund the FBI and Federal prosecutors, you fund the INS and customs. Eventually, you start funding “fun stuff”, like congressional offices and library renamings….but when you run out of money, you STOP.

cthulhu on January 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Is that Mark Foley’s face I see in the middle of the picture?

Ward Cleaver on January 4, 2011 at 3:26 PM

he cries.

upinak on January 4, 2011 at 3:09 PM

Bet he doesn’t cut his Kleenex budget.

Ward Cleaver on January 4, 2011 at 3:26 PM

How tough can this be? You start by funding national defense — it’s in the Constitution, it’s required, and you can’t turn it off and on. You fund the FBI and Federal prosecutors, you fund the INS and customs.cthulhu on January 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM

Where’s the FBI, federal prosecutors, and Attorney General in the Constitution?

Akzed on January 4, 2011 at 3:27 PM

The public was not prepared for that outcome and clearly didn’t want it,

The public doesn’t know its a$$ from a hole in the ground.
Fickle ba$tard$.
I wish the American public would wake the eff up.
I am really hoping the Tea Party is a manifestation of a wake up call for these apathetic bozos who have been saddling us with these Congressional losers forever.

history repeating itself…over and over and over….

repvoter on January 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

And they still don’t get it.
Required reading for Congress: REAL AMERICAN & WORLD HISTORY.

Badger40 on January 4, 2011 at 3:32 PM

Republicans won’t win all of their battles, not with Democrats in charge of the Senate and the White House, but at least they have stronger political winds at their backs for a knock-down fight.
This will be a long process. Skepticism will be essential in keeping pressure on Republicans to fight, but defeatism before John Boehner gavels the House to order for the first time will be counterproductive to that effort. Engagement will be the key.

This IS a long, two-election process. The first election was in 2010, which gave Republicans a House majority, and a stronger minority in the Senate that can sustain filibusters. The second election will be in 2012.

The House majority does have the power to fund (or de-fund) agencies of the Executive branch, and this power can be used as a threat (of shutdown) against any agency which the House believes has acted beyond its Congressional mandate. Rather than threatening the shutdown of the entire government, the House can target specific agencies, without affecting government services that most Americans would consider essential.

A House majority cannot do everything it wants with a Senate and President of the opposing party, and even the most fervent Tea Partiers should know this. But this is where Republicans need to use NEGOTIATION. There are 21 Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2012, many of them in “red” or “purple” states, and Republicans only need to win 4 of their seats to take the Senate majority. Mitch McConnell needs to not only keep his own troops in line, but start twisting Democrat arms as well–either vote with us now, or we’ll hold it against you in 2012. He also needs to work closely with John Boehner so that the House can adjust language in bills (for a second vote) that get past 60 votes in the Senate.

Republicans alone can’t overcome an Obama veto, not even in the House. They need to convince the American people that Obama is the stumbling block, to persuade Obama to either sign what comes out of Congress or be blamed for his vetoes in 2012.

The next two years will be where the new Congress shows its leadership–get what you can through hard-hitting, shrewd negoation, and blame the Democrats for what you don’t get. It won’t be easy, and Republicans probably won’t get everything they want, but let’s not abandon this race at the starting line!

Steve Z on January 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

The stage is set, the actors are present, and the star needs a prodding because of stage fright.

A nice little reminder. After we get the Repeal symbolism out of the way, we can start to eliminate each of those programs, and Not Raise The Debt Ceiling.

Kini on January 4, 2011 at 3:35 PM

Isn’t a very vocal public different this time?

Cindy Munford on January 4, 2011 at 3:45 PM

This Mike Ramirez cartoon comes to mind…

peski on January 4, 2011 at 3:48 PM

Defeatism is never a good thing. But realism is good. The odds are not with conservatives.

The allure of central planning, the socializing the wealth of the nation for both the rich and poor, the power, the celebrity are the flames for the moths to fly into. A culture that is beset by drugs, bread and circuses is easily brought down.

r keller on January 4, 2011 at 3:50 PM

They’d change their view if they legalized pot though.

BKeyser on January 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM

We may as well legalize it, because until these Tea Party bandwagon riders come up with SPECIFIC areas to cut, it’s all talk and no walk. There have been several proposals, not only from Reason.com (here and here), but from the Cato Institute. We’ll know by the spring whether to pass the bong and put ourselves out of our misery.

manwithblackhat on January 4, 2011 at 3:55 PM

also, we did not have the internet(in 95) to be able to circumvent the MSM total control of info. We are much more able to keep up with things in real time.
Changes the whole game.

jsunrise on January 4, 2011 at 3:57 PM

They’d change their view if they legalized pot though.

BKeyser on January 4, 2011 at 3:06 PM

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2010/12/23/pat_robertson_wants_marijuana_decriminalized.html

jsunrise on January 4, 2011 at 3:59 PM

They better deliver or the Republic is doomed.
jawkneemusic on January 4, 2011 at 2:59 PM

The next two years will be where the new Congress shows its leadership…
Steve Z on January 4, 2011 at 3:33 PM

They won’t “deliver”, at least in any sense close to expectations.

These people are too limited, too conditioned by their culture — simply too unequipped in spirit and intellect — to wage war on the great social beast of liberal/leftist ideology.

I don’t disparage their earnestness or intentions. They just don’t understand the enemy, the stakes or the demands of war.

But the republic isn’t doomed yet.

There is a piece missing. That is, a conservative leader who can identify and confront the Left and its vast cultural host, most especially the media. We need a leader who can take their beating and march through the dark punishment to the other side, who can awaken and marshal the will of the people to see what is to be lost by losing and what can be regained by winning.

This is an epic fight, the biggest in our nation’s history. These characters in congress haven’t a clue what I’m talking about.

No, it’s all about 2012. But if we can at least hold off more damage until then, that may be good enough.

rrpjr on January 4, 2011 at 4:08 PM

This Mike Ramirez cartoon comes to mind…

peski on January 4, 2011 at 3:48 PM

I knew exactly which one you were linking to. It is my favorite of all of his cartoons.

Alana on January 4, 2011 at 4:31 PM

HELLO INTERNET

94 THE CONSERVATIVES GOT SLAMMED….. by the propaganda machine of the day…..

That lumbering 4th Estate that uses to hide their socialism is in full view for all to see as they choke for their final breaths.

THANK GAWD 4 THE INTERNET

ROFLMAO

donabernathy on January 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM

I’m libertarian-conservative so I have no antipathy towards Reason — but Libertarians like them sure seem to want to be disappointed, if only to maintain the “they all suck” lament Libertarians love so much.

jjraines on January 4, 2011 at 6:17 PM

I think they’re going to fail, but I hope I’m wrong.

Bugler on January 4, 2011 at 6:38 PM

START,DADT,tax cut extension in return for ethanol subsidies-I’d say the GOP has already demonstrated their spinelessness and/or unwillingness to affect any real change.

DDT on January 4, 2011 at 7:42 PM

Some conservatives will simply refuse to be satisfied no matter what is done. It’s not like conservatives have been given dictatorial powers. The Dems still control the WH, the Senate, a good portion of the judiciary and the regulatory bureaucracy. Just what are the House Republicans supposed to do? Reason and the others like them seem far more comfortable complaining than celebrating and building on any successes.

jnelchef on January 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

Ed ~ you said it all right here: “

Engagement will be the key.

Engagement is the part we all play, it’s how we made it to Teh AWESOME 2010 Elections…we got to keep it up…I like what retiring Rep Shadegg said, that we sometimes need to meet them (Reps) when they are getting off the plane…show up as a greeting committee – when they are facing hard or important votes. He seemed to believe, what I think we all believe, the pressure inside DC is so great, we must exert great pressure and encouragement from the outside to counter it.

Minorcan Maven on January 4, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Just what are the House Republicans supposed to do? Reason and the others like them seem far more comfortable complaining than celebrating and building on any successes.

jnelchef on January 4, 2011 at 7:48 PM

For starters, how about NOT voting to expand Medicare Prescription Drugs and No Child Left Behind?

V-rod on January 5, 2011 at 5:17 AM

John Boehner – cutting house office budget by 5%. Oh my – what bravery – 5%. Goodness what next John?

jake-the-goose on January 4, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Yeah…Boehner is not the guy who is going to change anything radically, or for the better. He’s just another putz congressman.

Jaibones on January 5, 2011 at 6:55 AM

Words are not just words, as President Obama wants U.S. to believe.

Therefore, Speaker Bohner had better be a man of his word and do what he says, which will require much oversight and change when demonstrated the other party can not keep their word, which they have not been able to do since they have had control.

MSGTAS on January 5, 2011 at 9:42 AM