Political Animal


December 05, 2012 9:38 AM Blowing Stuff Up

By Ed Kilgore

Not being privy to the internal deliberations—much less the private thoughts—of Republicans, I have no way of knowing whether Speaker John Boehner and his right-wing critics are engaged in a very public Mutt-and-Jeff routine designed to convince the White House that Boehner’s pathetic “counter-offer” fiscal package is so brave that it should be seriously considered—or if instead there’s a real fight brewing within the GOP.

But yesterday’s statement by the chief potentate of movement conservatives, Jim DeMint, a man with a lot more real power over hearts and minds than John Boehner, sure created a credible threat of a right-wing revolt against the permatanned Speaker:

“Speaker Boehner’s $800 billion tax hike will destroy American jobs and allow politicians in Washington to spend even more, while not reducing our $16 trillion debt by a single penny,” said Senator DeMint. “This isn’t rocket science. Everyone knows that when you take money out of the economy, it destroys jobs, and everyone knows that when you give politicians more money, they spend it. This is why Republicans must oppose tax increases and insist on real spending reductions that shrink the size of government and allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money.
“Big government is the cause of our debt crisis, not the solution. Washington has a spending addiction that is shackling our children and grandchildren with unsustainable debt. Conservatives fought for a balanced budget amendment last year precisely because we knew the political establishment in Washington would never stop their tax and spend addiction without it. However, if neither party leadership is going to put forward a serious plan to balance the budget and pay down the debt, we should end this charade.”

By “charade,” DeMint seemed to be referring to “negotiations.” His position, as reflected in the Cut, Cap and Balance Pledge that he forced leading Republicans, including Mitt Romney, to take during the last cycle, basically lashes the GOP to a position of rejecting any debt limit increases until such time as a balanced budget constitutional amendment with a permanent percentage-of-GDP limit on revenues and spending is at least on the table. He surely knows that will never in a billion years happen so long as there is a center-left party with any power whatsoever, so his basic posture is to hold out until Republicans have enough power to dictate fiscal policy entirely. Don’t laugh: it came close enough to happening on November 6.

Some of DeMint’s little friends are also looking beyond the “charade” of negotiations with the White House to figure out how to gain operational as well as psychological control over the congressional GOP. RedState’s Erick Erickson wants to prepare right now to take out Saxby Chambliss and Lindsay Graham in 2014 primaries for their temerity in following Boehner’s lead:

Conservatives are either going to hang together or separately. Right now they are getting played because Boehner, McConnell, and the like are sure the conservative movement has become a paper tiger. And, to be honest, conservatives have shown them this is true.
The only way to change it is money or primary challengers or, better, both. Citizens United showed it doesn’t really work as the critics said it would in the Presidential cycle. But it worked in 2010 for conservative activists against the establishment.
Conservatives now need to work even harder in 2014. Either start blowing stuff up or shut up. Complaining just reinforces that conservatives are paper tigers.

It’s possible, of course, that without explicitly cooperating with each other the Boehners and the DeMints can both have their way: conservatives will let Boehner reach a deal with the White House; won’t work that hard to side-track it; and will privately welcome this development as the final lever for the final, gloriously bloody RINO purge going into or out of 2014. In that respect, what sounds like a vicious intramural “revolt from the Right” will effectively operate as a decision to delay said revolt until the next election season.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on December 05, 2012 9:58 AM:

    It’s been fun to watch the Republicans try not to implode/explode, with each faction sharpening its tongue’s, and teeth – and hopefully soon – knives.

    I’m waiting for the impending ‘Mutiny in the Asylum.’

    And maybe soon, with The Orange Boner taking away committee seats from dissidents, I expect the rest of this week to continue to be fun - possibly leading up to a group around Boner committing a ‘Speaker-cide,’ with Boner’s last words in the position being, “Et tu, Cantor?”

    And in the end, there’ll be no one to praise Boner, only bury him – under a mountain of invectives.

    Hey Republicans, remember, it was your greatest President who predicted that "A house divided against itself, cannot stand."

    And we, "in the reality-based community," look forward to your Civil Wars.
    Go to Cosco and by popcorn by the gross!

    Too bad Shelby Foote isn't around to give any personal accounts in Ken Burns' future documentary about the Republican Party.
    But then, even as talented a writer and story-teller couldn't make these evil @$$clowns seem sympathetic.

  • Ronald on December 05, 2012 9:59 AM:

    Sympathy? For Boehner?? I'm glad you edited that out.
    That degraded pathetic *$#&! deserves a hole in Gitmo before he deserves anybodies sympathies.
    33 votes against Obamacare, None for jobs.
    Fuck him.
    The internecine warfare is just getting warmed up.
    We (on the left, that is) need to simply focus on GOTV for 2014 and let the animals on the right eat their own.

  • biggerbox on December 05, 2012 10:12 AM:

    I may need to stop on the way home for more popcorn.

    Part of me wants to encourage DeMint and Erick, son of Erick to 'let their freak flag fly' and stand fast in their conserva-lunacy. I feel not a bit of sympathy for Boehner (supposedly) trying to reach a reasonable agreement with that bunch of extremist nuts.

    We'll survive a plunge off the 'cliff' and may even be better off, once the bulk of the electorate sees that the stubborn GOP is the reason their taxes went up.

  • BillFromPA on December 05, 2012 10:12 AM:

    When Saxby Chambliss and Lindsay Graham are too far Left, who much room remains on the Right? Regarding Shelby Foote, I recall his saying in the Burns documentary that the great talent of Americans was the ability to compromise. I doubt he'd say that now.

  • Peter C on December 05, 2012 10:43 AM:

    The problem with resolving the 'fiscal cliff/austerity bomb' through legislation is that there are no Republican adults with whom to negotiate.

    The 'sequester' is existing law. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts is existing law. They will happen unless Boehner crafts legislation which will pass both houses of Congress.

    Sadly, the Republicans have purged all their competent lawmakers; all they have left are their bomb-throwers. The Republicans have staffed their side with warriors to fight against us; none of them want to work with us. But a SOLUTION requires that THEY craft a compromise. My prediction: it ain't gonna happen. They don't have the skills.

    We need to make sure that the public understands that the resulting recession is utterly unnecessary and caused solely by the Republican's willful ignorance and incompetence.

    They pushed the economy over the cliff in 2007 and they've been poking holes in the parachute that Obama and the Democrats deployed. Now that we're almost at the bottom of the fall, they've taken out the cutters and they plan on cutting the main cords to the canopy. We'll survive the resulting freefall, but it's gonna hurt and the pain will be pointless and their fault.

  • zandru on December 05, 2012 10:46 AM:

    Per Jim de Fresh & Minty one: "Everyone knows that when you take money out of the economy, it destroys jobs... This is why Republicans must ... insist on real spending reductions..."

    (superfluous "and" clauses removed for clarity)

    Final analysis: they're still trying to destroy the US economy. And they know what they're doing.

  • Ashley Whippet on December 05, 2012 1:21 PM:

    @zandru - exactly what I was going to write. If everyone knows taking money out of the economy destroys jobs why are you so insitent that we need to take money out of the economy to get the deficit down. The deficit is already coming down, but if the GOTP get's its austerity wishes you can bet it will hurt the economy and then they can blame it on the president. Douches.

  • meander on December 05, 2012 1:59 PM:

    Following along the same thread as @zandru and @Ashley Whippet, this "taking money out of the economy" nonsense. Did I miss the part where government takes its taxes and buries the money in a hole or sends it all to foreign people? No, I didn't, because government spending is just as valid as private spending. Tax money that goes out as food stamps, welfare, stealth bombers, new roads, etc. are going back into the economy. Now that might not be the most efficient way to do things, and if that's the case, then why can't DeMint make that argument instead of spewing crap?

  • Doug on December 05, 2012 5:08 PM:

    "...then why can't DeMint make that argument instead of spewing crap?" meander @ 1:59 PM

    Because he knows that he can't back that argument up with facts. Conserva-nuts most likely DO believe that tax monies ARE just buried somewhere. How those same people explain how the Federal government operates if that is what happens, I neither know no care to find out (any spelunker willing to go exploring, have at it)!
    Today's GOP are getting away with what they're getting away with because, in my opinion, there's just not enough people left in this country who lived through the Great Depression and WWII and know that, yes, the Federal government CAN spend money wisely and to the advantage of the entire populace - not just those getting the contracts.
    A lack of knowledge among the general population about economics works, both on the micro and macro levels and also differs on those levels undoubtedly helps.
    There is, however, no excuse for DeMint's NOT knowing...