Political Animal


January 22, 2013 9:11 AM Let’s Compromise: Do It My Way!

By Ed Kilgore

I am grateful for some of the signs emanating from the Right yesterday indicating a willingness to accept the 2012 election results, and/or to stop treating the president of the United States as though he’s some sort of alien usurper of power. But let’s don’t get carried away in suggesting “the fever”—as the president referred to Republican radicalism and obstructionism during the campaign—has indeed broken.

Consider the headlines about Eric Cantor’s effusive expressions of good will and bipartisanship yesterday: “Cantor: Time for Washington to ‘Set Aside” Differences” is how CBS put it. Sounds good. But what, exactly, was Cantor talking about?

House Republicans announced last week their decision to hold a vote to raise the debt ceiling, potentially averting a contentious debate many expected to go down to the wire this February. Cantor said today House Republicans are committed to working on passing a federal budget “so we can begin to see how we’re going to pay off this debt; how we’re going to spend other people’s money, the taxpayers’ money; and begin an earnest discussion about the real issues facing this country.”
“I think times demand as much,” he said. “It’s time that Washington get with it, and that is why I believe, hopefully, the Senate can see clear to doing a budget, putting a spending plan out there for the world to see… So we can begin to unite around the things that bring us together, set aside the differences, and get some results.”

Do you see any change of position here, other than the already-decided House GOP decision to not to stake everything on a debt limit hostage-taking exercise at the end of February? Best way I know to translate what Cantor is saying is: “Let’s see how much agreement we can get on the elements of our agenda,” which are entirely about domestic spending, not defense spending or revenues, and involve direct benefit cuts, not ways to rein in health care costs.

Yes, it’s a good thing that for whatever reason congressional Republicans have decided not to blow up the U.S. economy if they don’t get their way in fiscal negotiations. But for the moment, their way or the highway still seem to be the only options they comprehend.

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.


  • Ronald on January 22, 2013 9:40 AM:

    Their way or the highway is the corner they've painted themselves in to.
    Good luck with that, y'all.

  • c u n d gulag on January 22, 2013 9:57 AM:

    I have an idea of how we can reduce the debt, Congresscritter Cantor!

    How about we tax the people who were responsible for that debt?
    You know - Conservatives and Republicans.

    When President Clinton left office, the country had a clear vision of a surplus in the future.

    Which you then allowed George W. Bush (remember him? WE DO!) to obscure by adding the fog of two wars and occupations, tax-cuts for the richest (which not only didn't trickle down, they trickled UP), gave Big Pharma a huge payday, and deregulated Wall Street and the banks to the point where they couldn't even be protected from themselves - and the subsequent loss of home values and jobs in the Great Recession, which then added to the Republicans already awesome record of spending the country in bankruptcy.

    So, Congreescreature Cantor, how about we tax only those people in the country who were Republican politicians, and the gullible morons who supported them?

    YOU, YOUR President, YOUR politicians, and YOUR supporters, are responsible for every feckin' penny of that debt, @$$hole!

    A nice non-negotiable, no-loopholes, 75% on ALL income from Republican politicians and voters, until we pay off that debt that YOU and YOUR party accrued, and are so feckin' worried about!!!

    Until then, sit the feck down, and STFU!!!
    Grownups are trying to sticth the social fabric together, that YOU Nihilistic children tore assunder.

  • Domage on January 22, 2013 10:03 AM:

    What they're really saying is, "Democrats must put together a detailed budget so that we Republicans can attack it mercilessly. For our part, the Republican House majority absolutely refuses to put forth a budget or any kind of detailed proposal that we might actually have to defend."

  • Peter C on January 22, 2013 10:07 AM:

    I’m hoping that time is on our side. The most important aspect of the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ outcome is that the economy avoided a MASSIVE blow. But, as the economy improves, the National Debt becomes a much easier problem to solve.

    Cantor’s challenge to the Senate says, if effect, “You do it! You make the suggestions (so we can criticize them). You square the circle! We DARE you!”

    I’m hoping the Senate CAN. As the economy improves, there are more options. With the added revenue, there are better choices available. If we wind-down the war in Afghanistan, we can realize military savings. As health care costs come in with smaller than expected cost increases, the Medicare cost projections look better.

    So, with the work shifting to the Senate, it is especially important to get a fix today to the filibuster. If the filibuster is fixed, the Senate can be a MUCH more functional body, especially since we no longer have Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln on our side dragging their feet.

    I guess I’d better be careful; my optimism is showing.

  • marty on January 22, 2013 10:39 AM:

    "So we can begin to unite around the things that bring us together, set aside the differences, and get some results.”

    Suuuure.....just like Republicans did all during the Bush years. They NEVER were divisive, NEVER called people who disagreed unpatriotic, NEVER said we were Terrorist supporters....oh, wait - they did.

    Sorry, Republicans - your "can't we all get along" shtick is way off base- it fools no one.

  • JackD on January 22, 2013 11:11 AM:

    According to Schumer, the Senate majority intends to call their bluff and pass a budget soon. They're not going to like it.