Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fiscal Cliff – Republicans Forced to Face Their Own Impotence

Architect of the Capitol

So Congress caved.  Last night, prior to their approval CNN, BBC and Sky News all showed the same footage, of House Republicans bitching about how totally unacceptable the Senate bill was – including some who hadn’t read it yet. All the reporters seemed to believe they would send it back to the Senate with amendments.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shot that idea down when she and a group of Democrats took questions from reporters. She was impressive. She has such a polite demeanor, but she’s a woman of steel. When a reporter asked her what she thought the Republicans would do she shot back very smartly saying she didn’t know yet, and wasn’t going to comment on the only source of information they had – namely reporters.

She added, though, that the only acceptable response from House Republicans was a straight up and down yes or no. She made no attempt to hide her anger at the poker playing they have been indulging in and her low opinion of it and expressed no patience for their whining about having to work so late into the night over New Year.

She laid the blame solely at their door in no uncertain terms. She was tired, everybody was tired. America was tired. And the House Republican blustering continued. The majority leader Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia said he would never support the bill. There was much gnashing of teeth over it and scorn for it. But they caved in the end. Of course they did. 

And they got a worse deal than they would have if they had accepted President Obama’s last proposal. 85 Republicans and 172 Democrats voted yes. 151 Republicans and 16 Democrats voted no.  Mr. Cantor voted no. Paul Ryan voted in favor. Whether that’s because he saw sense or because he’s fundamentally a shift-in-the-wind kind guy, I don’t know. I don’t trust him. But that’s by the bye. At least he voted for sanity.

Hardliner House Republicans have walked away with the prize of being the worst gamblers in politics. They insisted on playing poker and they’re lousy at it. They lost their gamble, beating their chests until the last moment then having to give in and look like the fools that they are.  Will this teach them that their job isn’t to gamble? I doubt it.

If they want to leaern the lesson they'll benefit. If not, they'll carry on turning people off.  I think this is a grand victory, not because of the deal itself, but because hardliner House Republicans have been forced to learn that they can’t do what they want and ignore the consequences, and that they’re not as powerful as they thought they were.