Power of the purse?
Senate majority “leader” Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has joined Representative John Boehner (R., Ohio) in the outgoing House speaker’s final insult to the Republican party. They want to gift-wrap their shared Prada purse, hand it to President Obama, and let him flog Republicans with it until he leaves office. These twin jellyfish have agreed to a budget deal that snatches from Congress its best weapon to keep Obama at bay for the roughly 15 months that remain in his increasingly destructive and venomous reign.
Despite campaign promises of “regular order,” which helped them win control of Congress less than a year ago, McConnell and Boehner instead met behind closed doors with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and her Senate counterpart, Harry Reid of Nevada. Boehner and McConnell — surprise, surprise — lost this game of strip poker. Although they are in the minority of both legislative chambers, Pelosi and Reid remain fully clothed. Boehner and McConnell, conversely, are in their birthday suits. They agreed to raise the national-debt ceiling through March 2017 — two months after Obama leaves office. Also, federal spending is to be rolled into a big ball over the next two years. Obama can do whatever he wants until he finally crawls like a flea out of America’s hair. And Congress will be unable to withhold funds for Obama’s escapades, because they already will have given him a purse full of tax dollars. He can yank cash from it, spend some more, and then smack it repeatedly over Republicans’ heads.
RELATED: An Awful Budget Deal
This afternoon brought additional details, courtesy of Fox News. They only make matters worse:
• Federal spending rises $80 billion over the next two years.
• A $32 billion emergency defense appropriation, already agreed upon, has vanished.
• Social Security disability and Medicare expenditures are set to be cut. Republicans, likely will be blamed for this, no matter who cooked up this idea.
All of this in exchange for . . . the glory of “governing.” This word is Potomac for “Republican help in securing Democratic policy goals and spending priorities.”
This is beyond betrayal of the rank-and-file Republican voters (as well as independents and even some Democrats) who gave the GOP its legislative majorities last November in the naïve expectation that they would halt Obama’s excesses, rather than wave him along, like a coach urging a player to leave second base, round third, and fly home. Boehner and McConnell’s spectacular capitulation makes historical French military retreats resemble Operation Overlord.
Republicans and conservatives, from Capitol Hill to Costa Mesa, should declare war on this deal. If this is all Republican leaders will deliver for us, we might as well reregister as Democrats and at least enjoy a warm, runny sense of conquest.
#share#For Representative Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), this is a time for choosing. If he acquiesces in or fights for this perfidy, he will disqualify himself from replacing Boehner as speaker. Siding with these diet Democrats will confirm his critics’ suspicions that he is not philosophically sound enough to pilot the House’s GOP majority as a vehicle for conservative, free-market reforms.
Ryan, however, can take precisely the opposite approach and command the effort to torpedo this potentially massive victory for Obama and the hefty supply of political capital that it will deliver to him and the Democrats, courtesy of Obama’s errand boys, John and Mitch.
Ryan, to his credit, already has denounced the deal’s conception in the shadows.
“This is not the way to do the people’s business,” Ryan told Politico. “And under new management we are not going to do the people’s business this way. We are up against a deadline — that’s unfortunate. But going forward, we can’t do the people’s business. As a conference, we should’ve been meeting months ago to discuss these things to have a unified strategy going forward.”
Ryan should spurn this entire deal and, instead, offer to fund the government on a quarterly basis between now and when Obama finally packs up and leaves America alone.
Ryan should spurn this entire deal and, instead, offer to fund the government on a quarterly basis between now and when Obama finally packs up and leaves America alone. Rather than hand him a purse full of Benjamins, Ryan and his backers should put Obama on an allowance. If he behaves himself, he gets money to spend for another 90 days. If not, Congress can deny him the funds needed to continue whatever injuries he happens to be perpetrating against the Republic at that time.
If Obama rejects this arrangement, let him veto it and face the music. Congress should vote on it again, perhaps with slight adjustments, and put it back on his desk. They should use the filibuster-resistant reconciliation process to pass such legislation, just as wily Democrats employed that procedure to pass Obamacare. If Democrats moan about GOP tactics, remind them of that stubborn fact.
A massive giveaway like this to Obama only should be exchanged for something at least equally enormous. This is called “horse trading.” One would think that McConnell, whose state hosts the Kentucky Derby, would have heard of this term.
The GOP should not consider the just-unveiled deal for anything less momentous than adoption of the Penny Plan: One dollar of overall federal spending in 2015 will become 99 cents of outlays in 2016, 98 cents in 2017, and so forth. These gentle cuts would level off at 94 cents per dollar in 2021. Federal spending then would be capped at 18 percent of GDP. The result: A balanced budget and a badly needed return to fiscal adulthood.
As for the debt limit, this entire debate is infected by a stunning amount of ignorance and misinformation. Much of this, unfortunately, cascades from the mouths of conservative commenters. They should know better.
#related#If Congress refuses to raise the debt limit, the federal government will not plunge into default, any more than an American consumer will default by politely telling MasterCard that he prefers to leave his borrowing limit at $10,000, not hike it to $12,000. Default only would occur if and when he does not pay his MasterCard bill.
Likewise, Congress need not raise the debt limit, and certainly not in any sense of panic. America will not devolve into a deadbeat state, like Argentina or Greece, once the borrowing deadline lapses on November 6. In order to avoid default, the U.S. Treasury simply needs to make the $261 billion in net-interest payments that the Congressional Budget Office forecasts will come due in fiscal year 2016. This is entirely manageable. CBO predicts federal revenues of $3.5 trillion. That is more than 13 times the money needed to satisfy these obligations. Thirteen! So long as U.S. bond owners get paid first, there will be no default.
Ryan should work with Senator Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) to pass his Full Faith and Credit Act. It simply would instruct the Treasury secretary to pay bondholders first, as Washington seizes each new tax dollar. If Obama vetoes this measure, let his head roll for putting America on a more precarious financial footing.
As for the Republican “leadership,” Boehner mercifully is heading back to Ohio. Conveniently enough, Kentucky borders the Buckeye State.
McConnell should resign as Senate majority leader, having failed miserably at the task, over and over and over again. (E.g., Three consecutive losing votes on the surreal Corker-Cardin motion to disapprove the Iran-nuke deal? And no vote to approve the deal, as the House held, which Obama and the Democrats lost? Really? A mop in a pail of cold suds could have done better.)
McConnell can serve the rest of his term as a backbencher. That will leave him plenty of time to visit his buddy, Boehner. They could meet in Cincinnati, Ohio — which borders Kentucky. In fact, the Bloomingdale’s there sells Prada.
—Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.