The GOP Calls Its Own Fiscal Bluff

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the current GOP’s refusal to do anything but propose to slash spending is that “propose” is all they really want to do. They cannot actually stomach the actual cuts their abstract ideology demands. And so what happened yesterday, when the House leadership suddenly yanked a bill slashing transportation and housing spending, is of a piece with the growing incoherence on the right. Beutler has a must-read today, including this fantastic cri-de-coeur:

“With this action, the House has declined to proceed on the implementation of the very budget it adopted three months ago,” said an angry appropriations chair Hal Rogers (R-KY). “Thus I believe that the House has made its choice: sequestration — and its unrealistic and ill-conceived discretionary cuts — must be brought to an end.”

Yep, that’s as long as the Ryan budget discipline lasted this year: three months. Which is still a longer time than it took for the Ryan budget’s details to evaporate last year, as soon as Ryan was put on an actual national ticket, and had to find an actual national majority. In other words: all of this talk-radio rubber is finally hitting the actual fiscal road. And the screech and smell are unmistakable.

Obama’s strategy has been to keep proposing actual things to improve the economy, all of which the GOP will turn down almost as soon as he’s uttered them. Presumably, he’s trying to entrench the general impression that he is the sane one able to compromise while his opponents are out of their fast-shrinking minds. The GOP strategy? Good luck finding one apart from sabotaging growth, but, whatever it is, it seems they cannot follow it. They are opposed to spending when they want to attack a Democratic president; but, in power, they’ve long spent like leftwing Democrats used to. Recently, they sent a huge, unnecessary check to Big Ag. Under the last Republican president, the completely bankrupted the country. And when they actually have to contemplate real cuts in programs that might affect their own constituents, they balk.

They are a slogan, not a party.

And in the end, you do actually have to leave the Fox News studios and actually do the minimal amount to keep the government actually functioning. When they get there, they fall apart. The solution? A huge effort to throw these nihilists out on their ears in 2014, or to forge some kind of alliance between the Senate and a sane bipartisan majority in the House. The latter won’t happen if Boehner wants to keep his job. The former is deemed unlikely or impossible. That logic needs to be challenged.