13 July 2011

Why Republican Leadership is Getting the Willies

The Republican "establishment" is flailing around in search of some way to raise the debt ceiling, given the refusal of rank-and-file Republicans in the House to vote for any increase in it unless they get a significiant reduction in the federal deficit without any increases in tax revenues (which is to say, unless they get a significant reduction in the federal government, or more precisely the non-military aspect of the federal government).

We thus have Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell offering an absurdly convoluted plan to let the President raise the debt ceiling on his own, along with a NY Times op-ed piece advocating raising the debt ceiling authored by a politcal crony of George W. Bush.  (In an earler and less partisan era, we would have been presented with a photo-op of former presidents, "from both parties," lined up at the White House to express their unanimous support for raising the debt ceiling).

But why, in any case, are "establishment" figures in the Republican Party now fleeing from the position of the Republican caucus in the House? -- and fleeing from what is now, unquestionably, the views of the electoral base of their own Party?

Has McConnell suddenly developed a concern to make good policy, rather than score political points? 

Far more likely is that "friends" of his at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- or at the Business Roundtable -- have made a call to him and made clear that they find unaccpetable the prospect of default.

This is to say that McConnell and his ilk are really caught between a rock and a hard place at this point; or more precisely, they are caught between their voters and those who are their puppet-masters.


  1. I don't think leadership is "flailing" at all. You say:
    "Far more likely is that "friends" of his at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce -- or at the Business Roundtable -- have made a call to him and made clear that they find unaccpetable the prospect of default"

    But why can these same business leaders not whip Cantor into line? Or Boehner? Or Kyle? There are divisions within the Republican party that are hard to forecast, but they do exist.

    And is this idea all that bad, after all?


  2. The same business leaders have Boehner in line (he has said he will support the McConnell plan). Cantor, it appears, is throwing his lot in with the principled but wild no-nothings of the Tea Party movement, who really believe we should have much lower taxes, a balanced budget, and a fair smaller non-military federal government. This is good. Let them battle among one another. The goal for progressives should be to shrink the over-sized and dangerous military, and to restore a more progressive tax structure to support a more democratic and just social order.