I wanted to post this right after the House GOP retreat last month, but decided to wait because I might have been overreacting.
Now, however, the proof is indisputable: Even though they are in the majority in the House and make a great deal of noise about being part of the policy-making process, Republicans have clearly now abdicated all responsibility when it comes to the federal budget and simply decided it's someone else's job.
Consider the following:
1. After failing miserably on the fiscal cliff (remember the abortive Plan B?), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that it was now up to the Senate to deal with the situation.
2. Boehner also announced that he will no longer negotiate directly with the president on anything having to do with the budget. He reiterated that again this week when he said at a press conference that he now was going to let the Senate go first because, whenever he negotiated directly with this president it was his "rear end that got burnt.”
Politico had an outstanding but truly bone-chilling story yesterday about how appealing the prospects of a default and a government shutdown may be to House Republicans.
According to the piece by Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Jake Sherman, forcing a default by not raising the debt ceiling and shutting down the government by not passing a continuing resolution may be the preferred ways to go by a majority of the House GOP caucus no matter what that would mean to the U.S. economy, the Republican Party's overall approval rating, the GOP's prospects for a Senate majority in 2014 or a Republican winning the White House in 2016.
To those of us who have watched Washington operate for a while, this obviously sounds like totally insane, crazy self-destructive behavior by the House GOP.
But it would be wrong to dismiss it out of hand. From the conversations I've had with Republicans House members and staff since the 2012 election, the threats, are real and make a great deal of political sense no matter how obnoxious and damaging it otherwise would be.
Two reports over the past two days by the most credible organizations that do budget analysis prove that, no matter what they say publicly, congressional Republicans don't actually give a damn about reducing the federal deficit or lower government spending.
Each report shows that, for the GOP, the deficit not only comes in no better than second every time, it's not really a serious consideration.
The first report, produced by the excellent analysts at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and released on Monday, shows that last August's GOP-induced fight over raising the debt ceiling increased federal borrowing costs, that is, spending on interest, by a minimum of $1.3 billion. Here's the money quote:
My column from today's Roll Call explains why "ridiculous' and "infuriating" are two of the milder words you might want to use when you think about the latest House GOP plans to abandon the deal it agreed to in August and try to use the fiscal 2013 budget resolution to cut appropriations even more.
In case you're wondering, This and they are not going to come even close to being successful.
Tea Party Budget Plans Don’t Make Political Sense
The big federal budget news from last week was that, pushed by their tea party wing, House Republicans were seriously considering a fiscal 2013 budget resolution that proposed to cut appropriations below the levels agreed to last August in the Budget Control Act.
My column from this morning's Roll Call explains why the Republican position on not using cuts in the projected spending for military activities in Afghanistan makes them all-star budget hypocrites, and then some.
After reading the column, you may also say it's "par for the course."
Republicans Set Stage to Become All-Time Budget Hypocrites
By Stan Collender
Roll Call Contributing Writer
Feb. 28, 2012, Midnight
Congressional Republicans so far have been adamant that reductions in the projected spending assumed in the federal budget baseline for projected continuing military activities in Afghanistan must not be used to offset the cost of anything.