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“Redefining Compromise”: The Radicalization Of The GOP

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

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, Senate | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Compro-What?”: The Republican Definition Of “Compromise”

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

April 27, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Boehner In GOP Fantasyland

One wonders why Congress convened its budget-reforming “supercommittee” at all; House Speaker John Boehner (R) on Thursday announced that he’d done all its members’ work for them.

At a speech to the Economic Club of Washington, Boehner articulated a hard-right line on taxes that even the most moderate of Democrats could never accept. Remove loopholes from the tax code, he argued, but “not for the purpose of bringing more money into the government.” Tax increases? Not a chance — they “are off the table,” Boehner said, repeating the dubious argument that planning to raise revenue many years down the road would hurt job creation now. If you’re looking for deficit reduction, Boehner barked, “the joint committee only has one option — spending cuts and entitlement reform.”

A new Bloomberg poll on Thursday reconfirmed voter anger at Washington’s inability to compromise — on budgets, on jobs policy, on long-term deficits. On the same day, the speaker gave a lesson by example of why it’s been so hard.

True, Boehner’s speech followed news that President Obama is scaling back the entitlement reforms he would favor in a long-term budget reform package, retreating from concessions he was willing to make over the summer to strike a debt deal. Both sides, then, are hardening their positions. But Obama’s remains politically braver than Boehner’s, since the president says he still wants to achieve some balance between raising revenue and cutting spending through reforms to Medicare, the protection of which Democrats are desperate to use as a campaign issue.

That is the key to deficit-cutting, drilled home in study after study: You can’t expect to fix America’s finances with tax increases alone or with spending cuts alone. Plans that lack this essential balance would fail either because their math doesn’t add up (the GOP’s Ryan plan) or because they would be reversed the second the other party took control of the government (the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s proposal…and the Ryan plan).

A deficit plan must also be balanced in another way — against premature budget austerity while the economy is sluggish, which Obama designed his latest jobs plan to avoid. Boehner said on Thursday there might be room for limited agreement with Obama. But not much, signalling disapproval of even the sorts of temporary tax cuts that would have been an obvious choice for Republicans for decades — until now.

Boehner might just be gearing up for further negotiations. But the speaker’s demonstration that he and his party are still in thrall to the ideological fantasies he described on Thursday aren’t going to enhance Americans’ confidence — in their leaders, or in their economic future.

 

By: Stephen Stromberg, The Washington Post, September 15, 2011

September 18, 2011 Posted by | Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Deficits, Democrats, Economic Recovery, Economy, Elections, Federal Budget, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Tax Increases, Tax Loopholes, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployed, Voters, Wealthy | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Karl Rove: Setting The Bar For “Success” Too Low

Karl Rove’s new Wall Street Journal column is all about House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “surprising success” so far in 2011. As Rove sees it, Boehner has had a “remarkable run” by having “out-maneuvered” President Obama repeatedly.

Mr. Boehner may not be an inspiring orator, but he has moved the country and Congress in his direction. He has succeeded in large part because he had a more modest view of the post than his recent predecessors. […]

So Washington’s agenda this fall will reflect the priorities not of the glitzy Mr. Obama but of the modest, well-grounded Mr. Boehner.

Rove’s larger point seems to be that Boehner — or at least Boehner’s caucus — is largely dictating the agenda in Washington, and there’s obviously some truth to that. By refusing to compromise, adopting an unyielding right-wing agenda, and normalizing extortion politics, House Republicans have had considerable success, at least insofar as they’re dictating terms and fighting debates on their turf.

But Rove’s column comes across as kind of silly if one stops to think about the larger context.

For all of Rove’s gushing about the Speaker’s “surprising success,” Boehner’s tenure has been a seven-month-long fiasco. The Speaker has routinely struggled to keep his caucus in line behind his leadership, for example, and has found in many key instances that House Republicans simply don’t care what Boehner thinks. Whereas the Speaker traditionally is one of Washington’s most powerful players, Boehner is arguably the weakest Speaker we’ve seen in many decades — he’s not leading an unruly caucus; his unruly caucus is leading him.

Indeed, Rove seems especially impressed that Boehner has blocked White House attempts at additional revenue. What Rove neglects to mention is that Boehner was fully prepared to make an agreement with Obama for additional revenue, only to find that the Speaker’s caucus would forcefully reject the compromise.

What’s more, looking back at Boehner’s “successes,” it’s hard not to notice that Congress hasn’t passed any meaningful legislation at all this year — and in all likelihood, the Speaker will help oversee a Congress in which nothing of significance passes at all.

What have we seen from Boehner’s chamber since January? Five resignations, zero jobs bills, two near-shutdowns, no major legislative accomplishments, and the first-ever downgrade of U.S. debt, attributed almost entirely to the antics of Boehner’s Republican caucus.

Also note, thanks to Boehner’s sterling work, Congress now has its lowest approval rating in three decades, and Boehner’s personal approval ratings are spiraling in the wrong direction.

If Rove finds this impressive, I’m afraid he’s set the bar for “success” much too low.

 

By: Steve Benen, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, August 25, 2011

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Economy, Elections, GOP, Government, Government Shut Down, Ideologues, Ideology, Jobs, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public Opinion, Republicans, Right Wing, Standard and Poor's, Tax Increases, Taxes, Teaparty, Unemployed | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

With Deal Announced, The White House Makes It’s Case

So the final deal has been announced, pending approval by the House, and one of the key new pieces of the compromise is that the Congressional committee tasked with coming up with a second round of spending cuts in exchange for the later debt ceiling hike would be forced to act by the new “trigger.” In the event that the committee deadlocks, that trigger would force an even division of non-defense and defense cuts, and since the latter is anathema to Republicans, they would not have any incentive to deliberately sabotage the committee in order to force the deep entitlements cuts they want.

The White House’s argument is that even if the deal is far short of what liberals hoped for, Republicans have effectively surrendered the amount of leverage they were expected to have over entitlements cuts. Now that the committee — which is half Republicans and Democrats — will all but certainly advance a package of cuts in exchange for the later debt ceiling hike, the argument is that Democrats can live to fight it out another day on entitlements.

The White House is also arguing that the deal sets the stage for a re-litigation of the tax cut fight, and it’s now distributing talking points to outside allies that are heavily devoted to making that case on entitlement and taxes, an argument that seems designed to quiet angst and criticism among liberals:

* Expedited Process for Balanced Deficit Reduction: Puts in place a longer term process for additional $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction through a committee structure that will put everything on the table, including tax and entitlement reform. To prevent either side from using procedural tricks to prevent Congress from acting, the committee’s recommendations will receive fast track authority, which means they can’t be amended or filibustered.

* Sets the Stage for a Balanced Package Including Revenues: The American people and a growing number of Republicans agree that any deficit reduction package must be balanced and included revenue.

* Even Speaker Boehner was open to a deal with $800 billion in revenues, and nearly 20 GOP senators were supportive of the Gang of 6 framework, which had more than $2 trillion in revenue.

* If the Committee does not succeed in meaningful balanced deficit reduction with revenue-raising tax reform on the most well-off by the end of 2012, the President can use his veto pen to raise nearly $1 trillion from the most well-off by vetoing any extension of the Bush high income tax cuts.

By;: Greg Sargent, Washington Post-The Plum Line, July 31, 2011

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Budget, Class Warfare, Congress, Conservatives, Debt Ceiling, Debt Crisis, Deficits, Democracy, Democrats, Economy, GOP, Government, Ideologues, Ideology, Lawmakers, Middle Class, Politics, President Obama, Public, Republicans, Right Wing, Senate, Taxes, Teaparty | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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