Unhappy New Year
The fiscal-cliff mess has left the GOP dazed, confused, and fractured.

The final fiscal-cliff vote (C-SPAN)


Deroy Murdock

Republicans reply that they caved today, to fight another day. The looming debt-ceiling battle supposedly will find them as intrepid as a Marine battalion, itching to slash spending and relimit government. Believe it when you see it. For now, free-marketeers would be lucky if Republicans donned the blue helmets of United Nations peacekeepers.

The GOP also backed higher tax rates on upper-income individuals. By conceding Obama’s class-warfare argument that “the rich” must pay their “fair share” of taxes, Republicans have rendered themselves incapable of refuting this central lie. (They should have responded that, in 2010, the top 10 percent of filers earned 45 percent of national income and paid 71 percent of federal income taxes.) When Obama screams yet again for more tax “fairness,” Republicans no longer can claim that they are protecting their tax-hike virginity — having shared a tax-raising toss with Obama in the back seat of Cadillac One.

The House passed this measure with Boehner, just 84 other Republicans, and an overwhelming 172 Democrats voting aye. Meanwhile, majority leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) inspired 150 Republicans to vote no, along with 16 Democrats. Thus, the GOP became a house divided against itself — 36 percent tax-and-spend to 64 percent fiscally disciplined within the lower chamber, but relatively united (if wrong) in the Senate.

As if becoming untrustworthy on spending and taxes were not calamitous enough, Boehner boneheadedly canceled a Monday-night vote on $60 billion in aid for Hurricane Sandy’s victims. People in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are suffering mightily from the October 29 storm, which smashed homes, businesses, and infrastructure. The Senate shamefully contaminated this bill with such pollution as $2 million for Smithsonian roof repairs, $8 million for new Justice Department vehicles, and $150 million for Alaskan fisheries.

Boehner should have purified the Senate bill of such irrelevancies, pushed it through the House, and sent it across the Capitol without the detritus that senators recklessly inserted. Instead, Boehner scotched the Sandy vote without explanation — even to such GOP allies as Long Island congressman Peter King. Boehner then endured bitter bipartisan criticism for his high-handed callousness. Boehner eventually relented and promised Sandy-relief votes early in the new Congress. But Boehner suffered deep, self-inflicted wounds that make him look simultaneously cruel and inept.

So, like Democrats, Republicans are now a free-spending, tax-hiking party. But, unlike Democrats, they are badly split and hopelessly unable to play hardball, and appear mean to hurricane victims.

If United States senator Tim Scott can sell that to black Americans, come 2016, Republicans should nominate him for Messiah.

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.