Late yesterday afternoon the House approved the bipartisan Ryan/Murray budget proposal clearing the way to have it approved by the Senate and signed into law by President Obama. The final vote was 332-94. Clear majorities of both Republicans and Democrats supported the compromise measure.
I can't speak for Democrats, but I can speak as a conservative Republican over my great disappointment and regret that nothing was done to make a substantial down payment toward fixing the spending and debt crisis facing this nation in what amounted to an opportunity to make some headway through the first budget conference in four years.
How could it be that a majority of Republicans voted for a scam deal that actually increases spending by $63 billion in the short-term, with no entitlement savings in the future. Worse yet is that the deal actually raises "fees," which in Washington language stands for taxes.
Am I to cry "boo hoo" for Republican legislators and pundits who believe they are hated by the American people, despite a recent December 12th Quinnipiac poll numbers that tells a different story. It is President Obama who should be concerned. His job approval stands at 38% with the American people; 34% approve of Obamacare; Obama rates 37% at handling the economy 37%; and, most devastating, 52% of the American people think Obama is not honest or trustworthy.
Despite this positive news, Republican legislators remain scared out of their wits, shell-shocked might be a better description. Merely thoughts about another government shutdown happening so soon after the one of a month or so ago was overwhelming to House Republicans, and particularly to House Majority Leader John Boehner, who publicly chastised conservative groups for bad-mouthng the proposed two-year budget deal. No way were a majority of House Republicans willing to risk blame for yet another shutdown by not voting for the Ryan/Murray budget proposal.
Even so, Republicans who voted "yes" must have had reservations about a proposal that spends money now, but which promises to save money later on, knowing that such a pie-in-the-sky concept is devoid of any reality. In kindness to "yes" Republicans, might they be forgiven for looking ahead to the elections of 2014? After all, fear of messing up is a common enough concern with all of us.
When considering the Obamacare fiasco and its negative coverage in the news, just how realistic was it for members of the Republican Party to be terrified of duplicating a prior shutdown that most Americans have forgotten about? Although at the time the shutdown did capture the news headlines and kept the story alive for as long as the shutdown was in progress, the American people, having short-term memories, have moved on.
This was brought home in a December 9th column by Charlie Cook, "A Historic Collapse," in which Cook wrote of the most dramatic shift he had ever seen short term in his 40 years of being involved in politics. It happened in mid-October when Republicans soared to a three point edge over Democrats in the generic ballot when asked the question of whether voters would like Republicans or Democrats to control the House.
This should be good news for the Republican Party? Not so for establishment Republicans. What infuriates conservatives the most is the lack of drive (cojones) displayed time and again by so-called establishment Republicans. Lacking the will to fight, Republicans consistently cave in to the whims of Democrats when push comes to shove, eager to put off the battle until another day (which rarely comes), rather than standing on principle. Once elected too many Republican seem oblivious to why they were elected in the first place, more worried about keeping power than election promises made.
Does it ever enter the minds of Republican legislators that those they serve and represent do care about the the massive debt and are dissatisfied with merely tinkering around the edges to pretend that something positive is happening?
It should be a moral imperative for Republicans to do something about the $17 trillion debt going on $25 trillion with an unfunded liability of $90 trillion. It amounts to insanity not to act when future generations are being robbed and their futures jeopardized by the inability of Republican legislators to do what is demanded to get this nation's financial house in order before it is too late Instead, gripped by fear, many Republicans were content to kick the can down the road accepting the Ryan/Murray proposal in order to avoid another shutdown, when as a party united Republicans would have had the ability to speak truth to the American people, most of whom have no idea what shape this nation is in.
Rep. Paul Ryan called the Ryan/Murray proposal a step in the right direction. Nancy Pelosi advised Democrats to "Embrace and suck up." In the final analysis both sides recognized the bill for what it was, mediocre. In typical Washington fashion Democrats and Republicans reasoned: "Let's just vote for the bill so we can move on to other things." What were these other things? Republicans didn't wish to lose the Obamacare momentum, while Democrats wanted to continue their branding of the Republican Party as the "do-nothing party."
Might it be time to rotate out some of the old-timers out who behave like the House has no power under the Constitution?
By voting for the Ryan/Murray bill, Republicans added $1 trillion to this nation's already massive deficit. It is any wonder why establishment Republicans are being challenged?
Shame and dereliction of duty rests on the shoulders of both Republicans and Democrats. There are real budget issues to be solved which will only become more difficult to fix (if not impossible) as time goes by. Instead, while Rome is burning legislators on both sides of the aisle are playing the blame game hoping to save their own skins, while the American people are left out in the cold with a future that is equally as bleak and troubling.