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What’s Really Important to Republicans? It’s Not the Economy

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Ever since Barack Obama took the office of president in January 2009, the response from the Republican Party has been to “just say no.” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) actually put it rather blatantly last year saying that his “Job #1” is to make President Obama a one-term president. Sen. Mitch McConnell

Whatever Obama has asked—whatever the Democrats have proposed—the Republicans have had to be against it, not on principle (necessarily), but on politics. Even when that has meant reversing long-held positions on important policy issues, if Obama and the Democrats want it, the Republicans find a way to say “no.” I am certain that if Obama walked into Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) office tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. and said “good morning,” Cantor would insist that it’s night.

Which brings me to the debt ceiling debate and Obama’s $4 trillion proposal—a proposal, by the way that would have given the Republicans trillions in spending cuts—along with some increases in revenue. The Republicans, refusing to even entertain the idea of increased revenue from by eliminating loopholes and tax reform, naturally had to “say no.” It’s a non-starter, because God forbid, the economy might turn a corner on Obama’s watch. And then 2012? Well, there’s always the coming Apocalypse.

So the Republicans look like a bunch of curmudgeons who will take their ball and go home unless they get everything they’ve put on the table, walk away, figuring out a way they can take the debt-ceiling crisis—one they’ve created by obstructing it in the first place—and turn it somehow against President Obama. The economy, they cry, is in a shambles. The government needs to much spend less, they moan. Obama has ruined the economy (like it was in such good shape when he took office). It’s a huge crisis; we’re on the brink of ruin! But apparently not so much that it can’t wait a year or two. After all, it’s not as important as Job #1.

Because, remember, as McConnell said, Job #1 is to depose the president come 2012. As he said this week on Laura Ingraham’s show, “My first choice was to do something important for the country. But my second obligation is to my party and my conference to prevent them from being sucked into a horrible position politically that would allow the president, probably, to get reelected because we didn’t handle this difficult situation correctly.” Except, apparently he’s got the priority reversed, as has become abundantly clear over the last couple of days.

Politics before policy. Forget about compromise if political gains are to me made. Screw the economy; screw the people; screw the country.

It’s all about power. Governance means compromise, but when one party refuses—not for policy issues, but for purely political reasons, it’s simply irresponsible. Machiavelli would be proud.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is Publisher/Executive Editor of Blogcritics, (blogcritics.org). Her Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel, called "Anne Rice meets Michael Crichton," The Apothecary's Curse The Apothecary's Curse is now out from Pyr, an imprint of Prometheus Books. Her book on the TV series House, M.D., Chasing Zebras is a quintessential guide to the themes, characters and episodes of the hit show. Barnett is an accomplished speaker, an annual favorite at MENSA's HalloWEEM convention, where she has spoken to standing room crowds on subjects as diverse as "The Byronic Hero in Pop Culture," "The Many Faces of Sherlock Holmes," "The Hidden History of Science Fiction," and "Our Passion for Disaster (Movies)."
  • sometimes that is not important and we ignore will become very important and meaningful.

  • Maurice

    Everyone in the private sector has had to take a pay cut and reduce expenses. The government should do the same.

  • If there is any truth to this article at all, then it looks like the differences between the two parties are few indeed.

    Too bad the author refuses to apply the same standard to her own party as well.

  • Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with their idiotic pledges. The tea baggers – most of whom apparently understand nothing about governance – are running rampant in the apparent belief that there intransigence is blessed by god or some other asshole notion.

    Barbara is absolutely correct regarding the unsufferable antagonism that has emanated from the Reps from the moment Obama took the oath. There are, as she aptly noted, any number of bills and other proposals which came from Reps but were abandoned immediately if Obama even intimated an agreement with them. No president in memory, at least since the post Civil War era, has been forced to deal with a Congress so totally dedicated to his demise that it was unwilling to compromise on anything. It is dangerous to be in a place wherein one believes doggedly that everything they propose is totally and absolutely right, and that everything the opposition proposes is totally and absolutely wrong.

    When it comes down to it, this, again as Barbara notes, has far less to do with ideology than it does partisan politics.


  • John Lake

    Point number one, mine not yours, is that the Republicans ARE a bunch of “take my ball and go home” curmudgeons.
    Point number two, still mine, is that you are absolutely right, and more so.
    The Republicans continue to move in lock step with nothing but disdain for ANYTHING the president has done. They tremble in fear that they will have to come up with something or do something, or worst of all, concede something, and they know they have no hope. Their latest champion, Rep Ryan, WI, proclaims pride that he signed on for only a short term. He isn’t running for ANYTHING! That’s good! He won’t have to give even the appearance that he wants the people to vote for him. Have you tried to unwind his double-talk? Lawd.
    The President has to deal with oil producing nations in turmoil, developing nations with nukes, Israel vs. Palestine, corruption in Afghanistan, and banks who still want BIG BUCKS, floods, fires, draughts, and tsunamis; in short he has to keep the world spinning while protecting the American economy, as the Republicans try to decide if they still want to Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.
    Have a great day.

  • When this unnecessary crisis passes, congressional members who took the side of default should be impeached for breaching their oath of office to support and defend Article 14 section 4 of the US Constitution.


  • Grace, I am too. But this is what it’s come down to. It almost had to after more than 2 years of “Just say no” to everything, no matter how compromising. It’s this “my way or the highway” mentality that is so toxic. And it’s not the Democrats. Who are the filibuster kings? Not the Democrats.

    Now, they’ve backed themselves into a corner with the “base” who don’t believe anything will happen if we default–it’s all a big lie, dont’cha know?

  • Grace

    Sorry you feel that way, Barb.

  • Arch Conservative

    What is wrong with saying no to bad ideas?

  • Cut Clav some slack, Handy. After all, he has been spending way too much time on his boat lately. I’m sure “Waahh, waaahh, waahh” is dolphin for some particularly deep economic insight. 🙂

  • A deeply meaningful comment. Thank you for sharing.

  • Clavos

    Waahh, waaahh, waahh…

  • Walt, your #5 is an utterly distorted and inaccurate description of the two sides’ positions.

    The mix of spending cuts and tax loophole closings [not rate hikes] would have both been ‘actual,’ not merely ‘proposed.’ The last package discussed before Cantor walked out on the Biden talks was 83% spending cuts, 17% revenue increases. Both were over a ten year period.

    That’s nearly 5 to 1! But of course not enough for the Cato Institute [a Koch Brothers product] or for Eric Cantor, or for you.

    Get your own facts straight before accusing others of swallowing Kool-Aid.

    The president may well have outmaneuvered the GOP, and bully for him. Their harshly aggressive, blindly reckless tactics ought to lose them not just 2012, but many elections to come.

  • Walt, not basing my response to your earlier comment on this current issue, but certainly over the course of his presidency. Obama here has drawn a line in the sand.

  • Walt

    Asking for immediate tax increases and action on the debt ceiling in exchange for PROPOSED (re: not binding or actual) cuts over a TEN year period is not a compromise. Just because Obama says he’s compromising, you can’t merely accept it like a good follower. You have to do your own research. Again, spend some time reading the articles at the CATO site, a group that is critical of ANY politian (R and D) who has irresponsible economic positions.

  • Walt there is no equivalency here. Obama has compromised and compromised to get “bipartisanship” (like 1 Republican vote) on issue after issue. Can the same be said of the other side?

  • Walt

    Amazing that someone could believe that the politics and stubborness are one-sided, with the President fighting the good, honest fight. You’re drinking some really strong kool-aid if you think the politics aren’t being played equally on both sides. Watch, I can be blind just like you: “Whatever the Republicans have asked – whatever the Republicans have proposed – the Democrats and Obama have had to be against it, not on principle (necessarily), but on politics.” Take a few minutes and educate yourself: What the Debt Ceiling Really Means.

  • Amy–The party of LIncoln, they’re fond of saying. Right…

  • Amy

    I imagine Lincoln is turning over in his grave with respect to these so-called Republicans.