Political Animal


December 24, 2012 8:57 AM Didn’t Miss Much

By Ed Kilgore

During my week’s vacation, I made a point of avoiding news and only rarely risking proximity to a keyboard. So it was good to tune into the Great “Fiscal Cliff” Debate of 2012 this morning, and discover nothing has really changed, per this nut graph from the daily New York Times summary of the state of play by Jonathan Weisman:

Republican leaders in both chambers of Congress appear stymied by a conservative wing that will not tolerate a vote on legislation that even tacitly allows taxes to rise. Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, said the minority leader could not declare by fiat that a bill could be presented for a simple majority vote with no threat of a filibuster. That would require the consent of every Republican, and Mr. Stewart gave no indication that Mr. McConnell would seek it.
Asked if Republicans might filibuster the president’s backup plan, Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, a member of the Republican leadership, said on “Fox News Sunday”: “I just don’t think this is going to solve the problems — it actually doesn’t solve the problems. We have a spending problem in this country.”

No one election, no public pressure, no empirical evidence, no common sense, will displace conservative-activist determination to shrink and disable government and defend the lowest possible tax rates for wealthy “job creators,” their idols. The GOP may occasionally be able to maneuver around its own “base” to avoid complete political calamity, but make no mistake, Barrasso is articulating a “principle” so strong that even the whole country rushing straight to hell would not shake it. And self-proclaimed fiscal hawks who thought otherwise are nearly as deluded as they are.

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.


  • DRF on December 24, 2012 9:05 AM:

    Let's bear in mind that the extremist wing of the GOP in the House--those who refuse under any circumstances to go along with a bill that raises taxes--is actually a relatively small minority. The same is even more true in the Senate. It's within the power of the Republican caucuses in both the House and Senate to agree on a compromise deal with the Democrats. The Tea Party segment isn't blocking a deal; it's only the fear on the party of the majority of Republicans in Congress that prevents a fair deal from being passed.

  • sjw on December 24, 2012 9:26 AM:

    Given that no Grand Bargain II is possible now, I am hoping that Obama can run out the clock and have us go over the cliff. He's made huge efforts and then some for a compromise; perhaps too much so, though the upside is that he's won the PR battle. So a little more stalling, aided and abetted by Republican infighting, and we should soon be where we need to be. Then in early January Obama pushes legislation lowering taxes on everyone under 250K, he gets the hero's welcome, and Republicans come away looking like the Grinch.

  • jhm on December 24, 2012 9:34 AM:

    As this is the season of miracles, it is perhaps not so inappropriate that this pie-in-the-sky idea get aired now:

    I was watching Bill Moyer's interview with the screenwriter of the new Spielberg Lincoln movie, and he was talking about the difficulties in getting the thirteenth amendment passed. Since the power of the loonies in congress can seemingly only be broken (or even challenged) by the participation of potential voters who currently sit on their hands during primary and general elections, I though that a national movement which galvanized potential voters across the spectrum might serve to get them involved. A national issue such as a constitutional amendment. I wonder if an effort to modify the second amendment could be such an issue.

    I know, but one can dream.

  • c u n d gulag on December 24, 2012 10:08 AM:

    Yes, Senator Bare-@$$hole, we DO have a spending problem.

    And it ain't spending on the poor, the old, the sick, and/or the "Blah" and brown people, and/or the wimmenz and their icky parts - that's a drop in the bucket.

    We spend over 1/2 a Trillion bucks a year defending ourselves from... well, let me ask you, from whom, exactly?
    That, and we gave tax cuts to the richest, increasingly, since 1980 - with less than a decade of taxing them a little more.
    And guess when we had the largest economic growth, Senator?
    During those tax cuts, when jobs were supposed to rain down on us, like manna from Heaven?
    Did we poorz even see some of that money that was supposed to "trickle-down" to us?
    FECK NO!
    Nothing "trickled down," except pee and poo.
    Our greatest economic growth since WWII, has always coincided with tax INCREASES on the wealthiest among us.

    And who, Senator, do you want to pay for our extraordinary, and ever-increasing, military spending, and profligate tax cuts on the rich, for the last decade?

    Oh yeah - the poor, the old, the sick, and/or the "Blah" and brown people, and/or the wimmenz and their icky parts.

    Can we get some better Christians around here?

  • biggerbox on December 24, 2012 10:18 AM:

    We DO have a spending problem. We should be spending MORE, using the government to boost demand to restore an active economy.

  • Joe Friday on December 24, 2012 10:25 AM:

    Barrasso: "We have a spending problem in this country"

    Surprise, surprise, that a RightWinger has it EXACTLY ASS-BACKWARDS.

    The independent non-partisan CBO says we far and away have a LACK OF REVENUE problem in this country, caused by the massive decline in federal income tax revenue as a result of the numerous rounds of tax cuts enacted by Chimpy Bush and the previous Republican Congressional Majority.

    These folks are either congenital liars, dumb as a post, or from Bizarro World.

    Not sure which is worse.

  • Christiaan Hofman on December 24, 2012 10:42 AM:

    I think the biggest thing that happened is the thing that didn't happen: the vote for "Plan B". It showed clearer than anything that the Republicans have no plan. Especially when combined with the other big thing that didn't happen: the vote for McConnel's debt ceiling bill. Hilarious.

  • jjm on December 24, 2012 11:37 AM:

    Come on, the GOP/tea party is the party of lawlessness. What else does cutting government to pieces mean except 'freedom FROM law"?

  • sjay on December 24, 2012 11:50 PM:

    Don Stewart, a spokesman for Mr. McConnell, said the minority leader could not declare by fiat that a bill could be presented for a simple majority vote with no threat of a filibuster. That would require the consent of every Republican,

    Am I reading this correctly --- a filibuster-proof majority now has to include every member of the minority party?

  • Ted Frier on December 25, 2012 8:42 AM:

    It's time we do a better job connecting the dots.

    The nihilism exhibited by House Republicans on fiscal issues is the very same apocalyptic mentality that has helped turn the NRA from a sportsman's association into one that caters to the paramilitary paranoia of groups like the relatively mainstream Oath Keepers, whose motto is "Not on My Watch" and who say openly that the "right to bear arms" has nothing to do with hunting or protecting their families from criminals but is all about preparing for some future war against their own "tyrannical" government.

    This is why the NRA will never support restrictions on military-style assault weapons or high capacity ammo. To NRA members that would constitute unilateral disarmament.

    The NRA not only shamelessly shills on behalf of arms manufacturers seeking profits. It also enables right wing militia groups arming for war. That is why the NRA will support the creation of an invasive national registry to keep track of kids with autism but refuses to even consider closing loopholes that permit millions of weapons to be sold at guns shows without background checks of buyers. Can't have the FBI keeping tabs on future seditionists, after all.

    To expect current Republicans to behave like a normal political party or to govern in a responsible way is to be in denial about the nature of these radical Republicans or the constituencies and worldviews they represent.