Political Animal


September 26, 2011 2:20 PM The House GOP’s big plans for October

By Steve Benen

It’s as if some in Congress are actually getting dumber.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) told a conference of Republican Party activists on Mackinac Island, Mich., that the House leadership intends to push for a vote on a federal balanced budget amendment in October.

Responding to a pointed question from the audience, challenging Mr. Upton and other members of Michigan’s Republican House delegation for supporting a debt ceiling deal that didn’t include a firm balanced budget requirement, Mr. Upton said House GOP leaders are committed to acting on a balanced budget proposal soon.

Mr. Upton said House leaders met regularly to map out their agenda, and “October is balanced budget. We’re going to have votes on the balanced budget amendment.”

Those who continue to argue that House Republicans deserve to be taken seriously on public policy probably don’t fully appreciate how very wrong they are.

We’re in the midst of a jobs crisis; economic growth is anemic, and Americans are desperate for policymakers to take this crisis seriously. And yet, this is what’s on the mind of the congressional GOP.

Keep in mind, in early August, House Republican leaders told their members that “the best thing they could do during the August recess” was to sell their constituents on the idea of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. Apparently, the next wave is on the way.

This is just madness. Even if we put aside the fact that there are real problems that require immediate attention, and even if we ignore the proposal’s legislative prospects, the Republicans’ Balanced Budget Amendment is one of the worst ideas in the history of bad ideas. That congressional Republicans managed to create a BBA this year that was even worse than the previous version is a testament to their creativity, but it also reflects a degree of economic illiteracy that should disqualify them from any adult conversation on public policy.

What sensible policymakers should be doing is dismissing this “pathetic joke” of a proposal as quickly as possible.

That this is at the top of the priority list for congressional Republicans is a reminder of just how far gone they really are.

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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  • SYSPROG on September 26, 2011 2:26 PM:

    Dumber than a box of rocks...and just as tone deaf. The best thing the electorate can do is vote them all out. Honest to God...

  • c u n d gulag on September 26, 2011 2:30 PM:

    They are a two-trick pony:

    1. Tax cuts for the rich.

    2. Balanced Budget Amendment.

  • Jim Pharo on September 26, 2011 2:46 PM:

    Why doesn't the BBA fulfill the GOP's need for something to talk about that isn't important? Don't they need to provide the press and punitocracy with shiny new diversions to keep them tied up so they don't wonder into actual issues of relevance?

    Isn't that why they dedicated themselves to deficit mania? Why they created the Tea Party? Why they decided that off-shore drilling was the only moral course open to America?

    Isn't this what they do all the time?

    If we did this, their strategy would be to ignore it. Too bad we can't do the same when the shoe's on the other foot...

  • MattF on September 26, 2011 2:48 PM:

    They really need to combine a Balanced-Budget amendment, an Anti- Flag-Burning amendment and a Holy Intercourse amendment all in one family-friendly package. In fact I'm mildly surprised that they haven't already done it.

  • Trollop on September 26, 2011 2:52 PM:

    Really, Jesus fucking Christ.

  • j on September 26, 2011 2:59 PM:

    I have to say I am sick of all the garbage the republicans are throwing at us, also of the critical remarks about Obama.
    My take - Obama was elected saying 'Yes WE can' not yes I can, people fell asleep during the mid-terms, repubs got in and look what we have now, it seems every day that the huge money people and the repubs are all working to bring Obama down, how many of us are working to keep him in? He seems to stand alone, how many democrats have we seen campaigning for the jobs bill?

  • Ron Byers on September 26, 2011 2:59 PM:

    About 40 minutes and 4 comments. I guess this just isn't a newsworthy topic. Nobody cares what kind of silliness the Tea Party house wackos are going to waste their time attempting.

    These guys are intent on the legislative equivalent of masterbation. Let me know when they want to engage in real legislation.

  • tamiasmin on September 26, 2011 3:22 PM:

    MattF, I think that should be a Balanced Flag-Burning Amendment, encouraging the burning of other countries' flags, an Anti-Intercourse amendment, and a Holy Budget amendment. It better reflects the agenda of those good folks.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 26, 2011 3:31 PM:

    Paul Krugman gets the proper sentiment today with his first sentence:

    "Is it possible to both terrified and bored?" (Though he was getting ready to

    Republicans are shoulder-slumpingly stupid, persistent, and obnoxious. That's their genius. It just wears a normal intelligent person down. And that's the plan. It goes back to Gingrich and GOPAC when Republican candidates were told to go negative early, never back off, never educate, wound with small insults, etc. What we're witnessing is governing by GOPAC campaign style.

    Watching Republicans nowadays reminds me often of something David Letterman said. He claims 3 smart guys and 1 dumb guy can go into a room, and the only one left standing will be the dumb guy.

    He might be right. It's difficult to keep listening to utter stupidity. Eventually we just give up and tune out. And that's what they want. We can't let that happen.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 26, 2011 3:34 PM:

    Oops on above post:

    (Though he was getting ready to talk about the efforts to once again take on the Greece debt problem.)

    @gulag: you for deregulation as a Republican "trick."

  • T2 on September 26, 2011 3:46 PM:

    what we have here is simply a stalling tactic. Killing time until the next election when the TeaBags can elect Perry. I think the House already passed a BBA, and it was tabled in the Senate. Which this one will be too. But it kills time, and thats what they want to do. Stall, keep the economy stalled, keep jobs stalled, keep Obama stalled.

  • June on September 26, 2011 4:00 PM:

    Over this past August, I was glad to see that House Republicans were too busy running from and ducking angry constituents to make their scheduled "balanced budget amendment" push. That was supposed to be their "silly season" theme for the summer. They will fail this October, too.

  • exlibra on September 26, 2011 5:31 PM:

    June, @4:00PM,

    Never say that House Repubs are unable to learn; all that running and ducking in August taught them a lesson -- don't meet with your constituents. So they're now using one of the two "techniques":
    1)Hold the "townhall" on a private property and charge for attendance. Also (too), announce the "townhall" only to Repubs, to preselect. Bonus: the fee serves as a nice fundraiser. Two birds etc.
    2)Hold a telephone "townhall". Cold-call your constituents and tell them to stay on line for the townhall. Leaves them no time to prepare any "gotcha" questions and allows you to cut them off without anybody being the wiser. Also, if you call them at ca 7PM, there's a good chance that they'll still be at supper, and reluctant to hang on the phone. Not to mention that nobody likes to tie up the line for hours (once you've stayed on, suggesting willingness to participate, it's almost impossible to disconnect later, should you change your mind)

    At least, that's what my non-representative is doing. And he's the Bitter Brew himself - Bob not-so-Goodlatte, one of the original sponsors of the BBA

  • mr. irony on September 27, 2011 7:40 AM:

    number of votes for a balanced budget amendment the gop congress held when president bush turned a budget surplus into a record deficit: