Disunity. That’s the reality now, after the “conservatives” broke ranks and refused to vote for “Plan B” yesterday. Granted, the plan wasn’t an optimal plan from a conservative point of view (it did raise some taxes, and did not include spending cuts aside from the sequestration cuts already in place). However, it did ensure taxes would not go up for 99.5% of taxpayers, and included a permanent AMT fix. Unfortunately the “conservatives” seized on the negatives in the plan and used that to leverage opposition to Speaker Boehner, ostensibly as retaliation for the committee purges that occurred earlier this month:
I talked to two congressmen who were not involved in the purge or victims of it. They both said that seeing House leaders back “squishes” during the primaries including against some incumbents and then seeing them throw conservatives off committees was all they needed to strengthen their spines against the Speaker.
They said they’re happy to be team players, but they think conservatives in the conference are now treated as kids who are to be seen and not heard. They decided they needed to be heard. They like John Boehner. But they are angry with Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Boehner.
“The Speaker really messed this up by trying to make it a public spectacle,” concluded one. “Some of us were happy to oblige.”
I really hope that they are happy with themselves, because their “victory” in humiliating Boehner just created an even worse PR nightmare for the GOP. Rather than putting the ball in president’s court – making him either sign, or own the largest tax increase in American history, Republicans can now be (somewhat justifiably) as only caring about the rich; the wanted to protect the rich from a higher tax rate so badly that they are willing to let everyone’s taxes go up. I think Moe Lane has it right:
Yes, the Media hates us, and wants us all to die in grease fires. This does not mean that you get to pick your nose in public. And I’m not really happy at the way that some of our fire-breathers got caught committing rhinotillexomania. You should have been at that meeting, Rep. Huelskamp. You shouldn’t have been surprised that you called up something that which you could not put down, Rep. Amash. This vote was more important than gumbo, Rep. Gowdy.
The merits of their position are one thing; I could very well be wrong about how we’re in a worse place right now. Wouldn’t be the first time. But don’t make it easy for the Media to have a field day. And yes, it does matter.
Ed Morrissey also has some insightful observations at Hot Air along the same lines:
While Boehner came under considerable heat for this strategy, he’s playing a losing hand overall anyway. Plan B wouldn’t have even gotten a Senate vote, but neither will any bill pushed by the conservative wing, either. Plan B would have at least given Republicans some measure of political cover to insist that they weren’t blocking middle-class tax stability, especially since the bill that Boehner pulled would have addressed tax rates separately, as well as the AMT patch. And if by chance the Senate felt forced to take it up and pass it, the bill would have left the debt limit as a big bargaining chip for February without keeping most taxpayers hostage.
Instead, Boehner lost control of the caucus, and with it any juice Boehner might have now or in February. That’s Boehner’s fault in large measure, too; he shouldn’t have gone to the floor without knowing he could get enough support to pass the bill. But the failure of this measure makes it very easy for Democrats and the media to paint the House GOP as so resistant to new revenues that they’re willing to obstruct tax relief for over 99% of the country, even though Democrats had said they wouldn’t pass it.
I’ve seen this last point used as a justification a great deal today in blogs, comments, and on Twitter. However, I can’t help but be sure that these were the same people that cheered the house for passing a symbolic full repeal of Obamacare, knowing full well that it would never pass the house, and Obama would never sign it. Like Ed says above, this would at least given House Republicans some cover, and more leverage when negotiating spending cuts (which could have then been addressed in the debt ceiling negotiations when the republicans would be in a much better bargaining position.
Instead, the GOP has lost it’s unity, and it’s credibility with it. What’s worse, one of the “icons” of the opposition, Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning and got eviscerated:
Fact: What you will see in the video below is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Even with history, facts, logic, and the public on our side, we are getting our butts kicked on almost every front out here, because of irresponsible and unprepared GOPers like Huelskamp, who not only make complete fools of themselves in MediaWorld, but in the process make our ideas, worldview, and vision for the future look breathtakingly stupid and out-of-touch. [Video available at link]
In the end, all the Republicans have done is set themselves up to accept from Obama and the democrats that raises taxes on more people (most likely the rate hike will be for those making over $400,ooo rather than $1 million), or be blamed for letting the country fall over the fiscal cliff and raising taxes on everyone. this is what Obama wants, because the Democrats can then portray themselves as tax cutters by offering relief for the middle class. Further, the collateral damage from this “mutiny” will weaken the GOP’s leverage in the upcoming gun law and fiscal cliff negotiations. Way to go GOP, they don’t call you the Stupid Party for no reason.
A couple of clarifications:
1) I put conservative in quotes when referring to the opposition to Plan B not out of any contempt, or condescension. Rather, this is how they referred to themselves when speaking about the committee purges and those opposed to Plan B. Indeed, I consider myself a conservative, and generally agree in principle with the those that did not support the plan (see below).
2) I acknowledge that Plan B was not a desirable plan from a conservative point of view. I think people should be able to keep more of their own money, and the government should spend less. I’m approaching this from a realistic/political point of view. Namely, there is no way, with controlling one half of one third of the government, that conservatives are going to get anything they want as long as Obama is president. Plan B was going to be the best they could get, and at least it kept the tax hikes to affecting the fewest amount of people possible (let’s face it, tax hikes are coming whether we like it or not). It was also a good politcal move in getting the Democrats to own the tax hikes if they refused to bring it for a vote in the Senate, or vetoed it.
3) What irked me the most was the public nature of the opposition, and conservatives going on MSNBC and the like to basically bash their leadership. Is Boehner an effective leader? No, but you keep such things private and prevent the media from exploiting it. This does nothing but damage the Republican brand further, and Obama couldn’t be happier. I don’t think he’d be on vacation right now if Plan B passed. As I’ve said before, we need to take a page from the Democrats in presenting a united front against the leftists.