A House Divided

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Sowell then illuminates the big picture. “There are a lot of things to weigh against each other, not only as regards the economy, but also what the consequences to this nation would be to have Barack Obama get re-elected and go further down the dangerous path he has put us on, at home and abroad. Is it worth that risk to make a futile symbolic vote in Congress?” he asks.

The answer is no. And despite Democratic huffing and puffing about how Boehner’s current bill won’t pass the Senate (or if does, get vetoed by the president), threatening to do something and doing it are two different animals. As the Wall Street Journal points out, there are two “next-to-last realistic options” to deal with the debt ceiling: the plan proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Mr. Boehner’s plan. And if Reid can’t get the 60 votes necessary to move his plan along in the Senate, then the House plan is the only game in town.

Boehner, who reportedly told recalcitrant Republicans to “get their asses in line,” corralled members of his party for the procedural vote necessary to move the bill along. That vote was 238-186, and set the stage for the final passage of the bill later Thursday evening.

Unsurprisingly, Democrats did everything they could to undermine Republican efforts. House Democrat Leader Nancy Pelosi offered the most hyperbolic quote of the day. “What we’re trying to do is save the world from the Republican budget. We’re trying to save life on this planet as we know it today,” she said. White House press secretary Jay Carney called the Republican plan “incredibly juvenile,” and claimed the GOP was “trying to stick the president with default.” White House deputy spokesman Dan Pfeiffer essentially accused the Republicans of trying to ruin Christmas. “Happy Holidays America: the Boehner plan would have the debt ceiling all over again during the holiday season, which is critical for the economy,” he warned.

And president Obama himself, in yet another attempt to frighten a particular constituency that depends on government checks, met with veterans groups on Tuesday to “discuss” what would happen if Congress fails to reach a consensus. “If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills–bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses,” he warned.

Thursday morning, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor countered with a little pressure of his own. “This is a compromise piece of legislation that was negotiated between the Speaker and bipartisan leadership in the Senate, and so Harry Reid’s got a choice to make,” Cantor said. “Either he will go ahead and accept a compromise or he’s going to bring on default, something I hope he doesn’t do.” Reid was undaunted. “As soon as the House completes its vote, the Senate will move to take up that bill and it will be defeated tonight,” he said.

Tonight never came. Apparently unable to muster sufficient votes for passage, House leadership postponed their vote late Thursday evening.

In one respect, that may have been a good thing. By attempting to pass yet another bill on top of Cut, Cap and Balance, absent anything concrete counter-offered by the Senate, the House was, for all intents and purposes, negotiating against itself. While that may be noble, it is also counter-productive. The Democrats’ chief advantage in this showdown has been the fact that neither the Democratically-controlled Senate nor the president have revealed any specific plans of their own. Whatever Republicans send to the Senate will likely die, or be “reconciled” beyond recognition and sent back to the House, who would be blamed for failing to pass it. It might be a better idea to demand that Democrats offer their own plan, even as Republicans remind Americans that they have already passed two plans, both of which have been rejected out of hand.

This is probably the best the Republicans can do. Why? Because a Democratic Party in control of the Senate and the White House can wait for the last minute before offering Republicans a take-it-or-we’ll-default ultimatum, confident the mainstream media will characterize Mr. Obama and Mr. Reid, et al., as the “responsible” characters in this ongoing drama. Cynical? Yes. Doable? Absolutely.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, one thing is likely: Tea Partiers will be disappointed for not getting enough of what they wanted. Yet if they are truly concerned about the future of the country, they must remember that unconscionable levels of deficit spending and 14 trillion dollars of national debt didn’t happen all at once, nor will they be fixed all at once. They must also realize what they’ve achieved: in spite of the reality that Democrats have had majority control of the government since 2006, a paradigm shift away from their worldview is occurring. When the American Left is forced to negotiate anything in terms of deficit reduction, that is a great start.

But it is only a start. The big picture must be the defeat of Barack Obama in 2012, and the return of the Senate to Republican control. Pillorying John Boehner and members of the House who support the best deal they can get in a minority capacity is a waste of time and energy. Time and energy better spent rallying Americans to the cause of fiscal sanity and greater freedom in 2012.

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  • Steeloak

    I think the Tea Party Republicans can be proud that their holding out has forced Boehner to stiffen his resolve in dealing with the Democrats.

    I suspect the best we can hope to accomplish is to get a temporary agreement that both sides can live with, thus keeping it alive as an issue in 2012. A final "Big Deal" done today will be a bad deal for the country and will dissapate the will to finally fix the problems.

    After the elections, which look like a Republican landslide with many more Tea Partiers going to Washington, the spending issues can be resolved permanently & the balanced budget amendment can finally be voted out of congress & to the states. Maybe even the Fair Tax could be passed! (I can dream, can't I?)

    • WildJew

      Sorry, I don't buy the "Democrats have had majority control of the government since 2006" mantra. Republicans controlled all three branches of government for several years under Bush and what did we get for it? Huge deficit spending (albeit not as huge as that under Obama), growth in the size of government, growth in entitlements — e.g. the Republicans' Medicare part D prescription drug nonsense. Under Bush's and the Republicans. we got lies about Islam, a Wilsonian Utopian scheme of spreading democracy in the Muslim world. We got lies about our ally Israel. We got a formal policy of establishing a Muslim-terror state in Israel from Bush and the Republicans. If the House Republicans cannot demonstrate some moral courage and principle, why do the Republicans deserve to again control all three branches of government?

      • al222

        you may not buy the "mantra," but it happens to be a fact. it is also factual that the Bush administration engaged in irresponsible spending–which is exactly why it has to be reigned in now. Democrats have absolutely no intention of doing that.

        as for your anti-semitic reflex, I'll leave it to others to smack you around.

        • WildJew

          It happens to be so, yet it is no excuse for surrender. Republicans have enough power (they control the House of Representatives for heaven sakes) to steer the country in the right direction, if they only have the will. What do you mean by your "anti-Semitic reflex" reference? Do you contest the facts I laid out?

          • scum

            To steer the country in the right direction? Are you freaking serious??

          • WildJew

            Yup.

          • WilliamJamesWard

            I do not think the Republicans will do anything but let
            the economy tighten up and improve until another bright
            idea for spending allows their hidden leftist agenda to
            out itself again. We still have those two hands around our
            throat, Dems and Repbs and unless the tea praty gets
            enough real people elected and the political trash out we
            will never see security in our lives and freedom from out
            of control, runaway government where elites use us to
            serve their self gratifying agendas in which socialists control
            with a mockery of a constitutional governance………..William

      • umustbkidding

        Ahhh, and then there is the ostrich approach. Facts are facts wild boy. Come sit down and learn how to read. History must be the worst subject for liberals. Over and over again history shows how the "utopian" plan, as the sales pitch goes, ends in disaster for the people of the land.

        And who in this country has ever been more, unfriendly shall we say, to Israel than Obama?

  • cedarhill

    Thus the real strategy the House GOP should have pursued after they passed the first bill. They should have simply said "We've passed ours. Our work on this is finished until the Senate produces and passes their own bill or modifies our bill and we sit down to negotiate the differences in a joint House-Senate meeting. Just like any other legislation Congress addresses."

    This would have forced Obama and the Dems to actually DO something. Alas,, Boehner failed due to wanting to be the celebrity Speaker. Such is the life of the tanning booth Republican leadership.

    • Angel

      In sales they teach you to make your pitch and then shut up. Whoever speak first that loses. The Republicans blew it

  • Zinnia2

    The situation is that the dems have pushed their spending one step too far and We The People Have Had It – plus, the CBO includes automatic percentage increases every budget year to the base line, it's no wonder our debt is in oblivion… Even more importantly, the Senate NEEDS to Repeal obamacare – that would help tremendously… So shared sacrifice? Let's see your share dems!

  • StephenD

    McCain really took well to the low road didn’t he referring to Tea Party members as Hobbits?
    Cedarhill said it well. They have to get the word out to the American Public though. Make it known far and wide that they have indeed done the heavy lifting and now the Senate must act. Offer to compare plans side by side thus forcing the Dems to provide a plan for comparison. Also, this would expose the smoke and mirrors of the Reid plan. There is nothing to gain by offering yet another plan when no action was taken on the last proposal. Suggesting they will “share” ownership of the fallout should not sway them from their duty.

  • WildJew

    Reading this piece is so darn dispiriting. Let's give Obama and the Democrats what they want. Even Thomas Sowell says we must do it. Is it any wonder we are in this mess?

  • Margaret Rocheleau

    Speaking of hobbits, in the Lord of the Rings, it was the hobbits who saved Middle Earth. The difference is that the heir to the throne actually helped them and bowed to them at the end when he was crowned, instead of, like Boehner, knifing them in the back.

  • Kudios

    The fire has already started for the US. It was lit many years ago… We're now approaching the gas canisters.

    Sell up boys. The long ride down that started in 2008 is just getting to the fun part.

    • Cheryl L

      Boom!

  • patroitwork

    I am with wildjew. This plan is worse than no plan. The best we can get? Nonsense, we have reached the last straw of debt and can't stand any more. It is time the Senate, Harry Reid and Obama quit sitting on their fingers. They are the problem and the obstacle. They intend to take us off the cliff or else.

  • mrbean

    Kevin Williams had this to say:

    "The United States is not on a downgrade watch because the markets fear we won’t raise the debt ceiling in time to avoid a default; the United States is on a downgrade watch because the markets believe the debt-ceiling debate presents the last real opportunity for the government to enact a meaningful fiscal-reform program before it is well and truly too late to avoid a national crisis. The credit agencies, wisely or not, aren’t worried about the short-term political fight leading to an immediate default, but about the near- to medium-term fiscal situation, which is plainly unsustainable. And this is the political red herring. Although the U.S. has raised its debt-ceiling numerous times in the past, the implications that raising it now will fail to preserve the government’s credit rating suggests that the true issue is not the debt-ceiling, but an inadequate and fiscally over-extended government.

  • BLJ

    I am so sick of RINO's like Boehner and McCain. Time for them to go back to their home states and tend to the garden.

    The MSM and Dems can keep calling the Tea Party movement all the names they want. They have already lost and this all they have left. Losers.

  • Sandy

    Its not really about Republicans vs. Democrats. They are only different in degree. If the American people want an American govt., they need to wake up and demand that spending be cut, that taxes not be raised, and that we refuse to take on any new debt. Americans wanted LIBERTY in 1776, not security, not power over the rest of the world. And as far as debt, any family should know that you don't get out of a hole by digging it deeper. Its time to stop playing political games and do the right thing.

  • Ann

    CUT CAP AND BALANCE WAS SABOTAGED FROM THE BEGINNING — DIDN'T ANY OF YOU SEE O'BLAME-O (HIS IRISH NAME) RUN OUT WITH ANOTHER BILL THE SAME DAY TO TAKE THE THUNDER OUT OF THIS—WE JUST NEED TO KEEP GOING-I FOR ONE AM NOT LEAVING MY GRANDCHILDREN TO SLAVERY!

  • umustbkidding

    I see the sense in what you write sir, about being realistic on how to get a bill signed.

    "A man should look for what is, not what he thinks it should be" Albert Einstein

    However, I'm not sure that we must raise the debt ceiling. And yes, I agree, Boehner should have forced the Democrats to write down a budget. He has probably shot himself in the foot here. Either way he has got to go, he doesn't understand how to get out of the box.

  • Alc

    The same old thing both parties fight each up during election time and after the election they get back in bed with each other and figure out how they are going to F??k the people with more taxes and taking our freedom away.

  • nyc1234

    The Democratic party has little concern for excessive spending and the national debt; it' s their means of buying votes. If they had a theme song, it would come from a 60s hippie band…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM2MzlKURW8

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    Comparing Bush's spending to Obama's is like comparing a man that takes his wife
    to dinner at a nice restaurant, orders an expensive entree, then orders a bottle of wine(Bush); to a man that has a runaway gambling addiction. (Obama) No, Bush wasn't right to engage in deficit spending; but when Obama took office 2 1/2 years ago, he had the choice of making the situation better or worse; he chose to make it much, much worse.
    He did this with a trillion dollar stimulus plan, and private sector bailouts, that haven't worked; but drove hundreds of auto dealerships out of business, and lined the pockets of his union comrades with our tax dollars. How can anyone doubt, at this point, that Obama and the Democrats are trying to destroy the USA? So WHY do the Republicans
    need to deal with the Democrats at all on the debt reduction issues? Let the government default! The troops will still get paid; and Social Security checks will still go out.

  • FriendofGaryCooper

    In addition, Obama has destroyed jobs everywhere. His health care bill isn't about health care; the first thing it does is eliminate the tax deduction for employee prescription drug benefits; which has the potential to eliminate thousands of jobs.
    He recently ended the Space Shuttle program; as a result, the USA lost its lead in
    the space race to Russia; and 9000 jobs were eliminated. Even more ominous,
    Section 5210 of H.R. 3590(the Democrat health care bill) has a provision for
    establishing a constabulary civilian reserve force. (Read: Brownshirts) WHAT is that
    about? And Bush was a much better friend to Israel than Obama; Obama is Israel's
    (and America's) adversary.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Our government is in the hands of criminals and we can not believe anything they
    tell us, it is time for the American people to sack the lot of them, Democrats and
    Republicans alike and start over or split up and go back into being independent
    States or not face ruin but live it……………………………………………..William