The day has arrived in a rush, what with the congressional calendar only having a few hours left on it. Reports arrived last night that The Deal was going to be coming up for a vote today in advance of everyone heading home for the Christmas break. And we all know what we think about the deal without digging into all the tawdry details yet again. When the first hints of the specifics broke, I wrote a none too flattering column on how the immediate spending was going up rather than heading for somewhere between the margins of each side. It depends on Lucy and the Football promises of cuts to be named at some point in an imaginary future. There are taxes dressed up as “increased fees” and it dips into the only real cuts we’ve seen in the living memory of some readers.
Nobody else liked it either. Erick Erickson called it the BOHICA Act of 2013. All the conservative PACs called for open revolt. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio walked away at a fast trot. For Pete’s sake, even Mitch is going to bail out on it. (Of course, to be fair, he’s running from a challenge on the Right at the moment.) So I think we all know what needs to be done now, right?
We need to pass this thing and move on.
Even understanding that 90% of the audience just tuned out and begin smashing the cap locks key to type RINO in the comments section, let’s press on.
Allahpundit’s analysis of some of the realities of this situation in the Boehner Declares War post, while not in any way an endorsement, contains a number of uncomfortable truths which we’ve been seeing play out in the media for months. First of all, the difference between a marginal win and a marginal loss on this bill are too insignificant to lose sleep over except on purely ideological “die on any hill you can find” lines. With a bitter war and the threat (or reality) of another partial shutdown, even the gains in additional spending reductions that might be seized would be a pittance spread over ten years which wouldn’t cover the congressional copier paper bill. But the potential losses taken in winning that pyrrhic victory could be significant.
We’re at an unusual point in the long term political arms race right now, and we haven’t been at such a juncture for so long that bruised conservatives might not even recognize it anymore. On the electoral front, we’re looking at anywhere from six to as many as nine seats in the Senate which should definitely be not just in play, but winnable. (I won’t burn up the post with all those details yet again, but you get to nine if you include Franken.) There’s no significant danger of losing the House. On the general policy front, Obamacare is sinking the Democrats and for the first time in a very long while, the public is thinking that perhaps they were a bit too hasty and maybe the GOP should take control of things again.
The media hates talking about any of this, proving extremely effective in masking the message to the middle land voters of the nation. Even as Democrats like Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor are sinking in the polls, most of the talking heads will only focus on Steve Stockman throwing down the gauntlet in front of Cornyn. A GOP domestic violence story is always good for months of coverage if it lets them avoid talking about a Democrat in trouble. And when it comes to policy, the only reason they finally started talking about Obamacare is because there was nothing else left on the plate and everyone was up in arms. Given even a whiff of the buffet of another shutdown, you won’t hear a word about Obamacare anywhere outside of FOX for months on end.
The point is, momentum is on the Right side and eleven months is not an eternity. With a little focus and a bit less circular firing squad, we could see the GOP in control of both chambers in January 2015. At that point, Congress can finally stop being “do nothings” and finally begin “doing their job” as the media (and Obama) so frequently claim they would like. Budgets with real cuts could be passed. Bills which promote business growth and jobs could reach the President’s desk. And then he can either spend his last two years wearing out his veto pen and being the single handed obstructionist he has claimed to despise all this time or pull a Clintonian move to the middle and join forces to get something done. Either way is a win. It’s not assured by any means, but it’s one heck of a lot more promising and – seemingly – within reach than anything else we’ve seen in a while.
This may be the time to take an admittedly disappointing and crappy deal today, but bank the good will that comes from it for next November. (But before we do, we should make sure that Boehner ditches that clause about making tax increases easier though. The Democrats can’t be that wedded to it.) We’re playing the long game here, not just looking to win a skirmish or two on the front line. No, it’s not a good deal, but Ryan has made the deal that we have to work with. And it might be turned into something much better in the next twelve months. And in order to get full value for our sacrifice, the deal needs Republican support in a team effort. Not everyone will be able to vote for it, I know – particularly those thinking of a presidential run – but it needs majority GOP support. If Boehner has to pass this “over the objections of his own party” relying on Democrats to drag it over the finish line, then that’s the only story that gets told, along with the “crazy wing of the party at war with itself” meme. This is just one of those bitter pills that has a chance to be worth swallowing.
I now leave you to finish lighting the torches.