And so it came to pass that after a lot of bluster, the Republican leadership in Congress caved yet again to Obama on the debt ceiling and gave Obama want he demanded- a clean bill. After months of promising to gain some concessions from Obama on issues ranging from the Keystone pipeline to Obamacare, the GOP walks away with nothing again. To make matters worse, only 28 of 230 Republicans voted in favor of this bill technically, although a previous entry by Erick Erickson correctly noted that the real vote was over the rules associated with this bill. Anyone who voted in favor of those rules is equally culpable in this breach of their duties. And for the 28 Republicans who voted for this bill, double shame is heaped on them.
This was such a no-brainer argument which indicates that the likes of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell either lack the brains, the heart, or the soul to be congressional leaders. Often on these pages, I really try to give them the benefit of the doubt when they are criticized. Often, I chalk it off to their leadership or "administrative" position. For that, I have been taken to task at times and I must admit that all of you who criticized my commentary in the past are due an apology from me. These two together define the term "bone heads." Despite the political risks- especially in Kentucky- I am left with the impression that should either McConnell or Boehner lose their seats in their respective chambers, the Republican Party will be none the less well off since they both seem to cave to the Democrats anyway. What would be the practical difference?
To me, this is simple. First, the dire warnings about failing to raise the debt limit are overblown by liberals. The United States is not going to default on anything. We still have tax revenue flowing into the treasury daily to pay our bills as they come due. Certainly at some point in the future a greater share of that tax revenue will be dedicated to service the existing debt leaving less money for other governmental programs. But by time that future point is reached, the impasse will have been broken. The "fear" that some rating agency will downgrade the US is like believing bitcoin is real currency; it is like living in an imaginary, theoretical world.
Second, the GOP continuously fails to use the tools dealt to it by the Democrats and Obama. In the very week when Obama announces yet another delay in an Obamacare mandate and one week removed from a damaging CBO report and congressional testimony regarding Obamacare, it was like the perfect storm of information that the Republican leadership in Congress should have used to their advantage.
Republicans could have and should have demanded at least a one year delay in the individual mandate under Obamacare in exchange for a debt ceiling increase. From a public relations standpoint alone, it is a winning message with the American electorate and this condition or demand would have been met with applause by most Americans. Poll after poll shows that Obamacare and the individual mandate remains unpopular with voters. The GOP would have stolen some populist thunder from the Democrats by at least appearing as if they were standing up for the average Joe rather than Wall Street. As one pundit noted, it is too bad John Q. Public does not have a strong lobby in Congress to compete with the Chamber of Commerce or the NFIB.
Leaving aside the public relations aspect, it would make perfect sense to delay the individual mandate as the penalties assessed under it would be a huge tax increase no matter how the administration wishes to ultimately portray it. On so many occasions, the bill of goods assigned to Obamacare by the Democrats and the administration have failed to materialize. Public support for Obamacare, which was never great to begin with, has taken recent hits to the point that the American public do not trust the messenger any more. So when Obama stands before the American public whose side the GOP would have been on had they fought this fight and talks of the dire consequences of something as theoretical as "default" on our debts, an increasingly deaf ear would have been turned his way.
It is obvious that the current GOP leadership in Congress would rather let the more fiscally conservative voices do the dirty work, then run to Wall Street donors and away from their constituents when it gets to the nitty gritty. The fact is there are two winners in this debacle- Obama/the Democrats and Wall Street. And the blame lies at the feet of every Republican in Congress without the guts to take on Obama. All of those in the House are up for reelection this year and some in the Senate. Leaving out people like Susan Collins who is a numerical necessary evil, Republicans like Mitch McConnell need to go. They have proven they lack the intestinal fortitude to be called "leaders."