The Corner

James Traub

The New York Times Magazine takes a break from bashing Bush to bash House Republicans instead (registration required). James Traub writes that “today’s Republican Party is led by its ideologues, the way the Democrats, now more pragmatic, were themselves back in the 1970’s.” The House counterpart to Denny Hastert and Tom DeLay is Nancy Pelosi, a congresswoman from one of the most liberal districts in the country with a voting record to match. If she’s not one of her party’s ideologues, who is? Traub doesn’t have much of a handle on the House. He thinks that Hastert became Speaker in 2000, which is odd since he correctly notes that Gingrich lost the Speakership after the 1998 election. Does he think that there was an interim speaker during 1999?

Traub writes, “Should Kerry win, Hastert and Tom DeLay should have little trouble blocking his domestic agenda, especially the rollback of tax cuts to the rich and increased spending on education and health care.” Those tax cuts are scheduled to expire. Kerry doesn’t need new legislation to make them expire; it’s the Republicans who would have to pass new legislation to keep them from expiring. Unless Hastert and DeLay have 290 votes in the House to override a Kerry veto–and an equivalent number of votes in the Senate–a President Kerry would eventually get his way on taxes without having to do much.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.