Any time I read one of those articles about the Republican Party “rebranding” itself or “moving to the center” or “coming to its senses,” I think of the drift of political life in my home state of Georgia. After Sen. Saxby Chambliss was more or less pushed into retirement for the sin of contemplating a “grand bargain” between the GOP and Obama, a large early field of very conservative would-be Senators has assembled, driven (by most accounts) into a more-conservative-than-thou competition by Rep. Paul Broun, who makes Michele Bachmann look like the soul of sweet reason.
But it’s not like this is some passing wave of Tea Party/Christian Right extremism in Georgia. The House members running for the Senate could well be succeeded by a new bunch that’s even wilder. Consider Phil Gingrey’s 11th district, where I lived during high school. The first candidate into the race is a famous radical voice, Bob Barr, who once represented a similar district as a classic Gingrich-era right-wing firebrand (serving as a Clinton Impeachment co-manager, and sponsoring the original Patriot Act and Defense of Marriage Act) before later becoming the presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party. But Barr could become the RINO in the field, as “constitutional conservatives” unite behind state senator Barry Loudermilk.
Described by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Jim Galloway as a “constitutionalist somewhat in the mold of Paul Broun,” Loudermilk became famous even before running for office as the author of a post-9/11 local newspaper screed that went globally viral, encouraging non-Christians and immigrants to pack up and leave America if they didn’t like “our culture.” During his climb through the Georgia Republican ranks, Loudermilk has championed a variety of anti-immigrant bills, “personhood” initiatives, efforts to shut down all state agencies not specifically authorized by the state constitution, and serial theocratic gestures. He was also one of the participants in a colleague’s “briefing” for state senators on the evil United Nations Agenda 21 effort to destroy private property rights.
At the recent 11th district Republican convention where Loudermilk formally announced his congressional candidacy, a straw poll (reported by Galloway) showed him trouncing Bob Barr and the rest of the field. Just as interestingly, the poll showed Paul Broun leading the 11th district’s own Phil Gingrey in the Senate contest.
Now maybe Broun won’t win and maybe Loudermilk won’t win; neither has any national support so far, and neither is known for fundraising prowess. But it’s important to understand that these zany men are wildly popular among the kind of grassroots conservative activists who have been lashing the GOP to the hard right in recent years. In his remarks to the 11th district convention, Loudermilk said: “I don’t come from the grassroots; I am the grassroots!” and that would seem to be an entirely accurate statement. So even if “establishment Republicans” can squelch such candidates, it will involve competing with them avidly on fever-swamp themes. And that’s how people like Phil Gingrey or another intensely conservative Senate likely, Tom Price, wind up looking like moderate “squishes.” To adapt the president’s term for the ideological passions gripping the conservative movement and dominating the GOP, the “fever” is not “breaking,” at least down at the level where people don’t bother to sanitize their views. It may, actually, be getting worse.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, April 24, 2013
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) has no shortage of charts, bullet points and studies to back up the GOP’s tax strategy, all of which he laid out Tuesday afternoon before a room of reporters. But, perhaps most prominently, Price wielded numbers from the Congressional Budget Office to make the case for extending all the Bush tax cuts permanently, as the House is poised to vote on this week.
“As the Congressional Budget Office has said, the growth rate if these [tax hikes] go into effect is 0.5 percent,” Price told reporters. “If we’re able to keep the rates the same, the growth rate is 4.4 percent.”
It’s not surprising that a legislator would rely on numbers from the CBO, given the office’s long-standing reputation as a non-partisan, independent scorekeeper. But in the next breath, Price dismissed another major finding from the very same number crunchers.
When asked how the GOP would make up for the huge increase in the deficit that would result from making the Bush tax cuts permanent—which the CBO estimates will reduce revenues by $4.6 trillion—Price flatly denied that the numbers were valid. “We don’t believe that keeping tax rates as they are right now costs money,” he said. Instead, he explained, preserving all of the Bush tax cuts would spur tremendous economic growth that would quickly fill the deficit gap. “What happens when the economy grows, is the federal government actually gets more tax revenue.”
So how is it possible to tell which CBO numbers to trust? I asked Price, pointing out the discrepancy. “The CBO is constrained by rules, in some instances,” he explained. “Sometimes the rules allow them to have more accurate information, in others they don’t.” When it comes to analyzing tax revenue, the CBO must follow the guidance of the 1974 Budget Act, which Republicans like Price believe is flawed. Instead, they’ve long advocated for what’s known as “dynamic scoring” to account for the revenue impact of the economic growth they believe that tax cuts will accelerate.
Why, then, were the 1974 rules for scoring taxes imposed in the first place? Were people just misinformed? Price shrugged, pointing out that Republicans on the Budget committee have tried to change the rules 10 separate times.
In fact, the Bush administration tried using the GOP’s preferred dynamic scoring method to look at the very same Bush tax cuts in 2006. But the results disappointed conservatives: There wasn’t the strong correlation between growth and tax cuts they had expected, and there were far lower levels of growth attributed to the tax cuts than Republicans had claimed, particularly when they weren’t offset by other budget cuts. Even Doug Holtz-Eakin, then a GOP-appointed CBO director, didn’t clamor for more dynamic scoring thereafter.
But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from using the logic of dynamic scoring to make the case for tax cuts that aren’t offset by anything else, as they’re proposing once more. It’s a position that everyone from Tom Price to Mitt Romney has embraced, whatever CBO says to the contrary.
By: Suzy Khimm, The Washington Post, August 1, 2012
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a member of the House Republican leadership and the chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, was recently asked about lawmakers’ capacity to compromise. As Robert Schlesinger noted, his response was illustrative.
“Compromising is one thing as long as you’re compromising and moving in the direction of your principles,” the right-wing lawmaker said. “If you’re compromising and moving away from the direction of your principles, I’m not sure it’s a compromise.”
And I’m not sure if Price has access to a dictionary. “Compromise” involves give and take, with concessions on both sides. To reach a resolution, compromise necessarily involves rivals accepting something less than their original goal.
I thought of Price’s recent comments again this morning after hearing the latest from Richard Mourdock, the Republicans’ U.S. Senate nominee in Indiana. He told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd this morning, among other things, “I certainly think bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
This wasn’t a slip of the tongue. Mourdock also told CNN that bipartisanship means “Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government,” and he told Fox News, “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
In this guy’s mind, the only acceptable “compromise” is the one in which he gets what he wants.
Remember, Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein, centrist political scientists with enormous establishment credibility, have explained that American governance is broken because the Republican Party is “ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.”
As Mourdock helps demonstrate, the radicalization of the GOP isn’t over. The costs for the nation will likely continue to be severe.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 9, 2012
What is compromise? Getting more of what you want, according to House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia.
Appearing this morning at a policy briefing hosted by National Journal and United Technologies, Price was asked by National Journal’s John Aloysius Farrell (a former U.S. News contributing editor) whether a term in office would make the Tea Party freshmen more likely to compromise.
His response was classic: “Compromising is one thing as long as you’re compromising and moving in the direction of your principles. If you’re compromising and moving away from the direction of your principles, I’m not sure it’s a compromise.”
Of course by definition, compromising means, um, compromising your principles. Here in fact is the dictionary definition of the word: “an adjustment of opposing principles … by modifying some aspects of each.”
One of the enduring themes from the Obama-Tea Party years here in Washington has been on compromise—whether and when it’s a good thing and how one defines it. Polls have consistently shown that liberals and independents want compromise, but conservatives prefer their leaders to stick to their guns. Democrats have exploited this public opinion gap by portraying Republicans, accurately in my view, as being a party of hardliners unwilling to make the kind of compromises necessary to solve the nation’s problems, especially in a time of divided government. See, for example, their unwillingness to seriously consider the revenue side of the deficit problem.
But since “compromise” is a concept popular with swing voters, they feel the need to radically redefine it in a way they can embrace. (It’s kind of like their Medicare plans.)
California Rep. Xavier Becerra, the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus was interviewed at the event after Price and was asked what a bipartisan solution to the deficit problem would look like. Here’s his answer: “Bipartisan means that at the end, everyone will hate it, and people will all complain that it hit them to some degree. No one should be left out, as I said, all hands on deck.”
Kudos to Becerra for supplying a reality-based answer and apparently understanding the oldspeak definition of “compromise.”
By: Robert Schlesinger, U. S. News and World Report, April 26. 2012