Political Animal


July 04, 2011 9:25 AM In the light of day

By Steve Benen

Sen. John Cornyn raised an interesting procedural argument yesterday on “Fox News Sunday.” In reference to the debt-reduction talks, the Texas Republican said:

“Let’s do it in the light of day, not in secret behind closed door negotiation, only to spring it on the American people at the last moment to say, you know what, it’s this, take or leave it, or else there’s financial calamity.”

About a week ago, Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) raised the same point. “We might as well stake it out publicly to see what the disagreements are,” Sessions said. He added Democrats are afraid to “reveal their vision for the future,” in large part because it includes additional revenue. “What they’re advocating for,” Sessions concluded, “I don’t think would be popular.”

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Dems called Republicans’ bluff on this?

It’s possible guys like Cornyn and Sessions believe their own press releases, and I hate to ruin their fun, but the fact of the matter is the American mainstream would recoil if they had any idea what Republicans are up to.

The hostage strategy itself — Republicans will crash the economy on purpose unless Democrats give them what they want — is so offensive, it deserves to be a genuine national scandal. Indeed, it’s often hard to believe policymakers who claim to be patriots are deliberately putting us all at risk this way.

But even if we put that aside for a moment, the Republican ransom list isn’t popular at all. The GOP wants Medicare cuts and brutal reductions to popular domestic priorities like education and health care, without asking for any sacrifices at all from the wealthy and powerful. Democrats want a balanced approach (some spending cuts, some tax increases), reductions in military spending, and ending tax breaks for industries like Big Oil, without touching Social Security and Medicare benefits.

Cornyn and Sessions think their party would benefit from a more transparent process? These guys need to get out more.

“Let’s do it in the light of day”? I don’t imagine this will go over well with any of the key players, but Dems would be lucky if voters were aware of what the parties are bringing to the table.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • Mr Serf Man on July 04, 2011 9:30 AM:

    Speaking of light of day ...finally some Dem ads in response to Rove inc. Good ads calling him out by name and telling the middle class exactly what Republicans have planned for them.

  • c u n d gulag on July 04, 2011 9:36 AM:

    Ok, give 'em what they claim they want - lets have transparency?

    Isn't that why C-SPAN I and C-SPAN II were created for cable?
    So people could watch their government in action?
    Or, inaction, as frequently happens.

  • Grumpy on July 04, 2011 9:42 AM:

    The list of what Democrats are seeking as a compromise leaves out the biggest item of all: acceding to the Republicans' deficit-cutting agenda in the first place.

  • zandru on July 04, 2011 9:47 AM:

    "These guys need to get out more."

    Rarely were truer words spoken! These guys are apparently living in the alternate reality, Faux-world, which was created by their Mighty Wurlitzer in order to get them re-elected and create support for the right wing, reactionary policies favored by the money interests.

    At one time, Republicans knew it was spin and deception, and they knew the difference between fooling the voters and their real interests, helping their contributors.

    This 4th, call, email, tweet and in-your-Face-book your elected Reps and the White House! Tell them that you want all these deals out in the open. Remind them how amazed you were, listening to last week's Presidential News Conference, at the sensible decreases in tax deductions that your Republican representatives were rejecting. You really want to hear what else these guys want, and what they won't allow!

    Remind them that you favor the DEMOCRATIC approach, and that personally, you'd prefer 50% "revenue enhancements" versus cuts. That's what "balanced" means - unless you're Fox News.

    "Harketh three" - or more. Get the Congressional leadership, too.

  • bleh on July 04, 2011 9:49 AM:

    Dems would be lucky if voters were aware of what the parties are bringing to the table.

    Not that Democratic politicians should actually DO anything to make voters aware...

  • CDW on July 04, 2011 10:09 AM:

    You forget, Steve, whatever the republicans are up to behind closed doors, the democrats have agreed to $2.4tn of it. I think the ones who will be shocked - but not necessarily surprised - are the Dems, especially the left of Center Dems aka the Real Dems.

  • DRN0001 on July 04, 2011 10:41 AM:

    Why not compare the republicans' offensive strategy to the great 1973 National Lampoon cover? "If you don't buy this magazine, we'll kill this dog" http://www.marksverylarge.com/images/7301cover_l.jpg

  • Danp on July 04, 2011 10:43 AM:

    “Let’s do it in the light of day”

    Yeah. Just like Paul Revere and that other founding father, Francis Scott Key.

  • linus bern on July 04, 2011 12:05 PM:

    You assume that the Republicans are calling for a transparent process because they think they would benefit from the public seeing what was going on. This is false. They call for transparency because they know that it will never occur (even if the Democrats called their bluff and agreed, Boehner and McConnell would claim that the mean old Democrats were actually sabotaging the process by agreeing). Therefore Cornyn and Sessions can call for transparency and make it seem like the democrats have some nefarious secrets they want to keep hidden and not worry that people will ever actually see what was going on.

  • biggerbox on July 04, 2011 12:44 PM:

    We all know this is only posturing for rhetorical effect.

    As I recall, last week when Obama DID transparently mention a key disagreement between the Democratic and Republican approaches, i.e., care for seniors over tax breaks for corporate jet owners, the right-wing got all in a tizzy about how rude he was.

    Corny and Sessions are saying this because they know that NO ONE ever negotiates a deal in public, and furthermore, that Village Rules declare that precisely describing the details of the GOP class war is not allowed in polite company.

  • jlt on July 04, 2011 2:11 PM:

    Repellent --- duplicitous and repugnant!

  • pluege on July 04, 2011 3:28 PM:

    were it that we had a competent democrat in the White House, none of this republican insanity would be successful.

  • king buzzo on July 04, 2011 4:02 PM:

    "The GOP wants Medicare cuts and brutal reductions to popular domestic priorities like education and health care"

    Which the Democrats have acceded to. That's some needle to thread to arrive at a winning message when the Democrats have already caved to these 'cuts and brutal reductions.'

    I don't envy Steve his job of trying to make the administration and Obama look good in situations like this. I think the Democrats deserve far more criticism than he's apparently willing to supply.

  • burro on July 04, 2011 4:31 PM:

    "Wouldn�t it be interesting if Dems called Republicans� bluff on this?"

    File it under fiction.

  • exlibra on July 04, 2011 4:52 PM:

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if Dems called Republicans’ bluff on this? -- Steve Benen

    Yes, it would be. Also, too, it would be lovely if, instead of the pesky deer, unicorns started grazing in my backyard.

    "way: ayoution". Yes, it would be a good way to do it. But no way will *either* of the negotiating parties say "aye" to being outed.

  • Lloyd on July 04, 2011 6:38 PM:

    If the discussions were made public, the Republicans would only repeat one or two slogans, and there would be no real discussion.

  • neil b on July 04, 2011 8:19 PM:

    Critics of Obamastration: yes, disappointments but REM what can get *passed*? Could you get want you want actually passed in Congress? Ironically, a lot of this is the fault of a dumb (or cleverly tricked) voting public, and also peeved progressive purists who stayed home in 2010. If any of you did, wtf and and look what happened ...

  • bob h on July 05, 2011 6:56 AM:

    "..is so offensive, it deserves to be a genuine national scandal."

    We are dealing, in fact, with people with the morals of The Mob.