Republicans have lost their grip on the national discourse

Take the ongoing discussion about President Biden’s coronavirus relief package. In anticipation of negotiations, Republicans tried to whip up a frenzy of concern about the budget deficit. “I think spending, entitlement reform, growth, and the economy are all things that we’re going to have to be focused on next year,” said Senator John Thune (R-N.D.) in late November last year. But the argument has fallen completely flat. This surely is partly because Republicans blew up the deficit themselves with tax cuts for the rich back in 2017 — part of a routine they have been pulling since the 1980s. They cut taxes and spend hugely on military boondoggles, then when Democrats replace them in power, demand cuts to social programs to compensate. The cynical dishonesty of the move is simply getting too obvious.

The effort among Senate Republicans to trick Democrats into some protracted negotiation or into slashing the size of the relief package has also borne little fruit. President Biden met with 10 Republican senators this week, but immediately afterward he attacked their proposed relief package as “way too small,” while Senate Democrats have quickly moved forward with a reconciliation bill that can be passed with 51 votes. Even Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) said on Morning Joe that if the bill is $1.9 trillion, “so be it,” and added that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had reminded him it would be foolish to waste nine months negotiating only for Republicans to vote against it anyway, as they did with ObamaCare.

Or consider ongoing conservative efforts to whip up some kind of scandal over Hunter Biden.