The Williamsburg Accord: A Conservative Folly
Do you want to know why the Ryan budget is a waste of time? Worse, do you want to know why the entire House majority is a waste of time? Look no further than John Boehner’s comments to Sean Hannity regarding fighting Obamacare in the debt ceiling:
“There will be opportunities ahead, but do you want to risk the full faith and credit of the United States government over ObamaCare? That’s a very tough argument to make.”
So if we are going to buy into Obama’s talking points months before the battle, and telegraph the message that we will never engage in brinkmanship, what is the purpose of the Ryan budget? Moreover, what about the past three years of CRs in which he failed to push for defunding Obamacare? There is no threat of default – even the contrived variety – with a fight over the CR.
Back in January, a number of conservatives rendered themselves irrelevant in the fight for liberty by signing onto an incomprehensible agreement with leadership, known on Capitol Hill as the ‘Williamsburg Accord’ (yes, everything in Washington has to have a silly name). That agreement was aptly hatched at the GOP Retreat in Williamsburg. They agreed to suspend the debt ceiling law for 4 months and vote for a CR that funds Obamacare on condition that leadership keep the sequester and pass a 10-year balanced budget. The idea was to pass an amazing budget blueprint for everyone to support, and fight for it in return for lifting the new debt ceiling in May or June.
Let’s ignore the fact that the sequester was already a fait accompli, as Republicans would have been forced to succumb to tax increases in order to overturn it. Let’s ignore the fact that leadership forced the Democrat Violence Against Women Act down their throats with Democrat support. Let’s ignore the fact that there was nothing new in this year’s Ryan budget to improve upon last year’s budget other than $3.3 trillion in new tax revenue.
Let’s look ahead to the future. We’ve been playing this game for two years. If Boehner is going to buy into the notion that the debt ceiling is off limits, why in the world would the Democrats feel the need to agree to any aspect of the Ryan budget, much less defunding Obamacare? How could Boehner make this comment while he is concurrently telling his conference that he will demand dollar-for-dollar cuts in return for raising the debt ceiling – whatever that means?
Hence, the conservatives who signed onto this deal were punked – unless they also buy into leadership’s claim about default. If Republicans were really serious about dealing with this issue, they would pass Tom McClintock’s Full Faith and Credit Act (H.R. 807), which prioritizes payments for interest on debt. All of those conservatives who agreed to the Williamsburg Accord are co-sponsors of this bill? Why don’t they force leadership to vote on their bill ahead of the May 18 debt ceiling deadline?
It’s clear now that the vote to suspend the debt ceiling for 4 months had nothing to do with their desire to push for a balanced budget, rather it was an expression of fear – the same expression they are evincing to Obama ahead of the new debt ceiling deadline.
We are looking for new candidates who will not be possessed by this incorrigible fear during a time that calls for intrepid courage on the part of conservatives. I’ve already found several promising candidates, and will not rest until we find an army of new savvy contenders who plan to play by a different set of rules. The way we approach elections is not working. The movement is not doing enough to change the face of the Republican Party. And by voting to suspend the debt limit and funding for Obamacare in the CR, conservatives are making it harder for us to run against the moderates, obviating our ability to send them reinforcements. As we’ve explained this week with regards to taking down the rule on bad bills, we have failed to even match the passion and commitment of the ’94-era Republicans.
This must change.
Over the next few weeks, at the Madison Project, we will be updating our index scores for the 112th Congress and our hall of shame, which is comprised of liberal members in conservative districts. Sadly, it’s a long list. You can email me with suggestions of new candidates at Daniel@madisonproject.com. We can either complain or we can take action.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project