July 28, 2011

Tea Party, Boehner - who's right?

From Jim Geraghty's Morning Jolt,
I can hear the gears turning in readers’ minds now, right? “So Jim quoted two righties backing the Boehner plan, he must be on board with it, huh?” Eh, heck if I know the right strategy here.

Maybe the hold-the-line crowd is right; maybe within the White House, Obama’s advisors are popping prescription-strength stress relievers, on the verge of panic, and when the calendar flips from July to August, they’ll send a message to Boehner and McConnell they’ll sign anything. But at this point, are we even sure if Obama could tell if he has a losing hand?

So who is right? Let's start with obvious - not John McCain.
Beyond McCain's dismal dismissing of voters who held their noses and voted for him in 2008, and again to a lesser extent in 2010 (for which I can only say his loyalty as a defender of the nation has evaporated as a politician and he should be held accountable for it), the question remains - which approach is correct?


Boehner's plan seeks to avoid even the appearance of a possible default.  It keeps things going for another half a year and has the added political benefit of bringing the issue up again closer to the election - something the president is deathly afraid to see happen. It cuts a lot less than needs to be cut, but anyone who thinks that everything can be done right now isn't playing the long game.  Going for it all now is like trying to throw a desperation Hail Mary in the third quarter of a game that's still close.  Why not run a few halfback runs to set up for a play-action pass?

Imagine a situation where the Republicans take the Senate in 2012 and the presidency.  Wouldn't the Ryan plan or any sort of intelligent, real debt reduction plan be far simpler with things far more favorable to the GOP?  The only scenario where that doesn't play out properly is if you believe the GOP aren't serious about debt and are being political not for the long game but merely for the sake of seeking a return to power.

That can't be ascertained with certainty until after they regain power and either do something about the debt, or go about business as usual.  But the options are pretty clear at this point.  Conservatives have to give the GOP the benefit of the doubt because the alternative in the short run is another four years of Obama and a Democrat controlled Senate.  Boehner is no John McCain, Olympia Snowe or Arlen Specter.  He wants debt reduction.  If I'm wrong, then a Tea Party political party just might be in order.  But it's too soon to dismiss practicality as phoniness. 

Tea Party?

Morally right.
Should Boehner be run out of power?  His latest proposal compromises the initial position of Cut Cap and Balance.  But that in itself is a compromise from the Ryan plan, or the first attempt at passing a bill by Congressional Republicans. So is the Tea Party line being drawn now because the compromise has finally gone too far?

The GOP had a strong hand because they control Congress and supposedly the purse strings.  Some might feel Boehner has compromised that.  Arguably yes.  But it isn't the way many view it. The GOP only controls 1 of 3 branches of the executive/legislative part of the government. Their power is checked constitutionally by the Senate and President (not to mention the Supreme Court). What the GOP has ceded is the position of public opinion.  From having moved the debate of spend versus cut to the debate of what and how to make cuts, they ceded the position of public opinion on the latter debate.  They should have a commanding position on the what and how and the debate is clearly not owned by the GOP.  There's enough polls out there contradicting each other to have muddied the waters enough that the Democrats have something on which to hang their obstinacy.

Hobbit hater.
But that doesn't answer the question of which approach is correct.  Morally the Tea Party is right - the debt MUST be solved and as Ron Paul points out the sooner it gets done, the less pain will be involved.  Now is better than two years from now (conversely two years from now is better than five years from now).  Conversely, politically re-visiting it in six months and working towards a real solution 18 months from now is much more practical and would ultimately be more productive for conservatives.

What makes the most sense?  There's points to be made on both sides and personally I see merit in both sides.  The only point I can see as definitive is this: short of a total sellout by the GOP that includes significant tax hikes, no matter what happens the Tea Party and GOP are on the same side and need to remain allies, and treat each other as allies, with the exception of that orc John McCain that is.

UPDATE:  The Boehner plan is much smaller than the Reid plan, which is smoke and mirrors to a large extent.  But the deal which is short term keeps the issue in Obama's face and there is a big political plus for conservatives

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