Circular firing squads are very helpful…when they’re done on the other side of the aisle. That is why Democrats are so happy lately, sitting back and watching all the Republican in-fighting over deft ceiling deals. Sadly, Republicans have been all too happy to oblige. It’s time for them to stop and shift the onus to Democrats in the Senate and the White House, where it belongs.
The normal way passing legislation works is the House passes a bill, the Senate passes a bill on the same subject, they come together in a conference committee to hammer out the differences to form one bill, then both chambers vote again on the finished product. The way this debt negotiations have been going is the House passes a bill, the Senate and the President say they don’t like it. The House passes another bill, the Senate and the President say they don’t like it. Lather, rinse, repeat.
While this kabuki dance goes on, Republicans keep offering more and more plans, fighting amongst themselves and the media reports it as if they are the ones being unreasonable. This needs to stop.
It’s too late to stop a vote on the latest plan introduced by Speaker Boehner, it’s out there and everyone is expecting a vote on it. But that should be the last vote the House takes on the issue until the Senate acts on something.
What good will that do?
It shifts the narrative from “The Tea Party extremists in the House are blocking progress” to “Republicans can’t do anything until the Senate acts.” It highlights how the Democrats have yet to put forward any sort of serious plan with any bipartisan support, unlike Cut, Cap and Balance, which passed with Democrat votes.
This strategy also forced Harry Reid’s hand. He needs 60 votes in the Senate, so he’ll have to work with Republicans. Moreover, he has a lot of vulnerable Democrats up in 2012 who won’t be in a hurry to vote in support of a bad deal. Reid will have to moderate his bill, which will give Republicans a much better starting point in any conference committee.
The last 2 years Democrats have run the whole show, they’ve shut Republicans out of conference committees. Liberals have had the run of the Hill, and they’ve clearly gotten used to it. And Republicans have gotten used to being the red-headed step child. It’s time for that to end.
Republicans won a landslide of historic proportions in 2010, and while they know that, it’s long past time they start acting like it. I’m not suggesting they act like Democrats do, they don’t have the Senate, but to remember voters overwhelmingly chose them and the vision of Constitutional government upon which they ran.
This is a time for leadership, and Lord knows we aren’t getting it from the White House or Harry Reid. But leadership is as much knowing when to stop as it is leading the charge. House Republicans have led the charge, they’ve taken their side of the Hill. Democrats have no reason to take their side if Republicans will do it for them.
Harry Reid and President Obama don’t get to sit back and give a thumbs up or down like they’re Caesar, they aren’t dictators, they are participants. They’re supposed to be equal participants, they just haven’t been acting like it. It’s time for them to take off their togas and laurel wreaths and join the party.
If the Republicans all get on the same page, have message discipline about how they can’t pass legislation on their own, that they need the Senate to act so they can have a conference committee, the media will have little choice but to report the facts. Sure, that won’t stop MSNBC from blaming them, but it will take the crosshairs of the more legitimate media will be off the House, off the Tea Party, and the pressure will be put where it belongs – on Harry Reid and Barack Obama.
Democrats have gotten a free pass, mostly because Republicans have been so desperate to cut a deal and so afraid of getting the blame for there not being one. Harry Reid and Barack Obama have little interest in an actual deal, they certainly don’t want to cut spending, the only way to get one is to force them. No matter how cozy their relationship is with the media, and it’s cozy, when it is made clear and unequivocal that the ball is in their court, Democrats will have no choice but to play…or pay at the polls next year.