There is new polling out today making its way around the bathrooms of House and Senate Republican leaders. After weeks and weeks of bending over backwards to try to show they were willing to compromise on everything, guess what?
Perceived non-cooperation on the budget deficit is one problem for the Republicans in Congress. Seventy-one percent say the GOP is not willing enough to compromise with Obama on the deficit; that even includes 42 percent of Republicans. Fifty-two percent overall also say Obama isn't willing enough to compromise -- still a majority, but a substantially smaller one. (Indeed, 30 percent call Obama "too willing" to make peace; half as many say that about the GOP.)
It follows that on another measure, the public by a 14-point margin says it's more apt to hold the Republicans than Obama responsible if the budget impasse forces a partial government shutdown. (Then again, three in 10 also say a partial shutdown would be a good thing.)
House Republican Leaders who are more concerned with image than principle are going to fall all over themselves with this polling in a rush to compromise more. Here's the problem I see.
House Republicans have been muddying the water so much since November and painting their policy positions in pale pastels. The public voted in November with bright colors -- mostly in red. The public wants Washington to stop its profligate spending. The public wants bright colors, not pastels.
But House Republicans are too scared of their own shadow to both lead and fight. They had to be bullied by their base to actually cut significantly and then, instead of fighting the Senate on the cuts, decided to do more short term continuing resolutions to avoid a fight.
For months, Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, John Boehner, etc. have been in full Henny Penny mode making sure everyone knows the sky is falling, but that they will not, under any circumstance, shut down the government or do anything significant to avert the crisis.
And yet . . . and yet, by 14 points, the public is going to blame the GOP for a shut down. Clearly, the House GOP strategy is failing. Saying the sky is falling, but then not doing anything about it really is not what any reasonable person could call a winning strategy.
The public hates losers. Right now, House Republicans are looking like losers. House Republicans will look at this polling and decide they need to be even more accommodating of Democrats. They should look at this polling and realize it is time to lead. Their accommodationist, non-confrontational strategy is losing them the public that wanted them to cut spending.
I look at these numbers and see House Republicans needing to finally draw a line in the sand, say enough is enough, and lead. As long as the Republicans are being milquetoast on spending and the budget, the Democrats will seen the polling benefits.
John Boehner, it is time to lead. It is time for a real budget plan. It is time to stop squandering opportunities for reform by passing short term continuing resolutions.