The AP doesn’t really explain the significance of the fact that the GOP is sending just House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl to the President’s much-ballyhooed deficit reduction panel, so let me do it.
When the President set up this thing in the first place, he told the four party leaders in Congress – Speaker Boehner (R) and Minority Leader Pelosi (D) in the House; Majority Leader Reid (D) and Minority Leader McConnell (R) in the Senate – to each send four Congressmen to it, for a total of sixteen. That effectively translates to “President Obama’s deficit reduction panel was intended to be ineffectual:” you generally cannot get sixteen people to agree on anything. While Congressional Democrats theoretically were taking this panel more seriously [by only sending two apiece] – well. The Senate Democratic picks are Inouye and Baucus, which as the NYT notes are both hostile to the idea of deficit talks. Pelosi picked Van Hollen and Clyburn, which are described as obedient mouthpieces for the former Speaker (who herself hates the idea of deficit reduction) by that noted right-wing shill The Huffington Post. So that’s the Democratic side.
And on the Republican side? Neither Cantor nor Kyl are recognized as being particularly fiscal policy players: they’re there because they’re second-in-command to Boehner and McConnell, respectively. Boehner’s made it clear already that he expects deficit reduction negotiations to reflect the existing House budget, and Cantor is likewise making it clear that raising the debt ceiling will have to be linked to budget reform. Kyl is being less public about it, but he’s saying the same things as his House counterparts.
Look, here are a couple of truths that probably a number of my readers don’t want to hear, particularly if they’re still upset over the continuing resolution brouhaha: the debt ceiling will end up being raised eventually, and probably at the last moment. That does put a limit on what the GOP can accomplish, although it’s not going to be as much a limit as the Democrats apparently think that it’s going to be (the 65 or so screaming maniacs* we put in the House last November will ensure that). And whatever the deal ends up being, we’re going to see another round of cries of utter and total betrayal from the conservative side. Sausage and politics: don’t watch either being made if you value your mental health.
But at least the GOP is not taking this deficit panel nonsense as a heaven-sent excuse to send over eight legislators to solemnly jaw-jaw at each other and kick the fiscal can down the road yet again. Instead, we’ve put in two people whose ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ – mostly ‘No,’ at least until the Democrats start taking this stuff seriously – can and will be seen as being binding on the larger caucuses. In other words: the GOP is at least trying to avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls.
Which is a bit of an improvement over, say, the last time we had a House majority, don’t you think?
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*Says he, with nothing but admiration in his voice. In fact, I wish that we had eighty-five screaming maniacs. Not that I didn’t try my best to make that happen, of course.