The House of Representatives voted yesterday to pass a debt limit increase with “no strings attached.” The agreement passed by a razor thin margin – with principally Democrat support. John Boehner led a vote where the majority of his caucus rebelled against the increase in borrowing authority for a nation that is already $17.2 trillion in debt. I wish my bank was as generous with lending authority as the GOP leadership and Democrats in Congress.
Of course, Democrats were quick to praise the John Boehner-approved credit increase. Harry Reid even made it a point to articulate his approval to the Washington Post (which was also pretty thrilled to see GOP leadership succumb to liberal tendencies). As a general rule, if someone like Harry Reid agrees with you, or praises your actions, some very serious questions should race through your mind. What did I do wrong? How did I get to this point? Do I really want to be here? Who am I? Did I just have a stroke? Am I on candid camera?
The vote has already garnered some harsh criticism from conservatives and libertarians who were optimistic that the agreement would be accompanied by some sort of spending restraints, or Democrat concessions. And while much of this anger is rightfully aimed at the “big spending” track record of Obama Inc., it is not necessarily DC as a whole that deserves scorn from fiscally minded political junkies.
The GOP establishment decided that a “controversy free” debt limit increase would somehow bolster the Party’s chances at dethroning Senator Harry Reid from his dictatorial post in the United States Senate. After all, it’s hard to make the GOP look like right wing wackos when they act just like Democrats.
Now, I understand the need to avoid a potentially devastating controversy right before midterm elections. But does that really mean we are incapable of using something like the debt ceiling negotiations as a platform to discuss our ideas? Heck, even Tip O’Neil was able to squeeze through some agenda priorities while President Regan controlled the power of the pen. As the Republican Party, have we really gotten to the point where we have abandoned all hope of winning the PR push? “Uh-oh… It’s an election year. We better act like Democrats.”
The truth is, Political Party does matter. Even with the GOP establishment demonstrating their complete lack of lumbar bones, Democrats are still responsible for passing the bill – with the help of only 28 Republicans who have essentially given up on the idea of successful conservative messaging.
Go ahead, blame “the GOP establishment.” Blame John Boehner. Blame the 28 House Republicans who, for some inexplicable reason, decided that voting with the opposition party was the reason they were sent to Washington. But remember that the overwhelming majority of the GOP stuck by their promise to reign in the national debt. In the end, the only thing that could have helped avoid a “clean” debt increase would be fewer Democrats. Let’s face it: The non-negotiating Democrats in the Senate (and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) are more responsible for our ballooning debt (and Republican capitulation) than any of the rank-and-file Republicans who refused to OK trillions more in additional borrowing.
What the vote really boils down to is political tactics. The small number of Republicans who voted “yea” are deathly afraid of criticism… And, unfortunately, they harbor this fear with good reason. After all, they are not simply combating Harry Reid and Barack Obama; but they are combating cable news, social media, John Stewart, the New York Times, and other giants of media. Then there are the rest of the Republicans (also known as the majority of the Party) that feel a reasonable amount of public controversy could be a catalyst for political enlightenment. After all, it’s not as if our only two options were between the Ted Cruz filibuster and the John Boehner acquiescence.
Regardless of what “could have been”, the debate is now on hold until after the midterm elections. And while it might be the inclination of those on the right to levy disdain at fellow “Republicans”, we should keep in mind that government is a game of majorities… And the 193 Democrats who voted for the bill are the priority target for Conservative activism in 2014. The words of Bill Buckley are suddenly ringing in my head: Always support the most winnable conservative candidate.
Oh, and praise from Harry Reid really is reason for a re-evaluation of life choices. My guess is that Boehner is in need of some political identity counseling. He may be a Democrat trapped in the body of a Republican.
Michael Schaus is a talk radio host, the Associate Editor for Townhall Finance, and the executive producer for Ransom Notes Radio. He is a writer, artist, and political humorist. Having worked in a wide range of industries (including construction, journalism, and financial services) his perspectives and world views are forged with a deep understanding of what it means to be an American conservative. Visit RightWingImage.com for more from Michael.