Saturday, August 3, 2013

House GOP + Ted Cruz + Rand Paul = Chaos!

Political Armageddon: Cruz and Paul are for it.

I'd been wondering for some time if I could believe my eyes and ears when I heard statements indicating that radical-right elements in the House and a couple of such, like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, in the Senate meant to take the country to the brink and beyond over defunding Obamacare, with the threat being defund it or we shut down the government and, by refusing to raise the debt ceiling, crash the entire world economy.

Yes, it turns out, I could believe my eyes and ears.

Here's Paul Krugman's take on it, in which he gets to the heart of the matter:
In the short run the point is that Republican leaders are about to reap the whirlwind, because they haven’t had the courage to tell the base that Obamacare is here to stay, that the sequester is in fact intolerable, and that in general they have at least for now lost the war over the shape of American society. As a result, we’re looking at many drama-filled months, with a high probability of government shutdowns and even debt defaults.
Over the longer run the point is that one of America’s two major political parties has basically gone off the deep end; policy content aside, a sane party doesn’t hold dozens of votes declaring its intention to repeal a law that everyone knows will stay on the books regardless. And since that party continues to hold substantial blocking power, we are looking at a country that’s increasingly ungovernable.
The trouble is that it’s hard to give this issue anything like the amount of coverage it deserves on substantive grounds without repeating oneself. So I do try to mix it up. But neither you nor I should forget that the madness of the GOP is the central issue of our time.
Don't sugercoat it, Paul.

Speaking of Pauls, there's that Ryan fellow, who is a great source of this madness. Greg Sargent over at The Plum Line at WaPo, using the same phrase, "reap the whirlwind," tells us how approving the Paul Ryan budget year after year has set quite a trap:
As I noted here yesterday, by refusing to definitively shoot down the idea that Obamacare should be defunded through a government shutdown confrontation, John Boehner and GOP leaders continue to feed the delusion that this could happen. This could make it harder for Republican leaders later because conservatives — thanks also to years of the GOP leadership’s nurturing of Obamacare repeal fantasies — could be even less likely to accept any bill funding the government that doesn’t also defund Obamcare.
But it needs to be noted that the same dynamic is at play on spending. Republican leaders have been feeding the base delusions about spending for literally years now. The Paul Ryan fiscal blueprint has been enshrined as the party’s Holy text, but its basic goal of balancing the budget in 10 years with no new revenues has always been a pipe dream, as this week’s events showed. What’s more, GOP leaders have steadily misled their voters about the concessions Democrats have already made on spending cuts, and about the concessions Obama continues to offer them now. [Emphasis mine.]
Things have gotten so wacky ultra-conservative Charles Krauthammer of WaPo calls today's GOP "nuts." Read it or just take my word for it.

A must-read (can't believe I'm saying that) is Michael Gerson, also of WaPo, who's started making sense as the Republicans have stopped making any:
First, it seems to involve a rigid form of economic determinism. Cruz argues: “Jan. 1 is when the exchanges start and subsidies start. . . . It is an iron rule of politics that those who receive subsidies, inevitably, after they start receiving those subsidies, fight to retain those subsidies.”

This “iron rule” is Mitt Romney’s 47 percent comment unbound — the government-dependence theory of politics. When the subsidies start flowing, it is all over, even if the system itself is a dysfunctional mess. This is a critique of the American people more than of Obamacare. Once again, it is hard to persuade voters you regard as potential benefit addicts.

Second, tea party ideology also involves a counterproductive disdain for the Republican Party. “Let me be clear,” Cruz famously said, “ I don’t trust the Republicans. ” Other tea party activists spin third-party fantasies. But the Republican Party is the only institution capable of reversing Obamacare. Here is an actual iron rule: A measure passed by a Democratic president, House and Senate (and approved by the Supreme Court) can be reversed only by a Republican president, House and Senate. And the picking of lopsided, losing fights makes this prospect less likely.

Third, these strategic considerations make no difference to those who regard strategy itself as evidence of compromise. In this view, the hopeless battles are the most purifying. This is the romance of Cruz and of Custer — but both are myths that end in pointless defeat.
I could go on. If you want more, cruise the editorials at the big papers (I don't cruise Wall Street Journal editorials because they live in some parallel universe) and you'll find the theme is consistent: Today's GOP is crazy, the worst Congress in history, they're deeply nuts EXCEPT it makes sense because of gerrymandering and fear of a primary challenge from the extra-super-right-right. I'd say I'd like some of what they're smoking, except ewww.

Case in point: Utah senators Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett. Bennett got
tea-party primaried out, and Hatch flew further right. (Is that even possible?)

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