After the past few weeks, many GOP conservatives - and Tea Partiers - are beginning to understand how some of the Obamaphiles feel. Like Obama supporters, conservatives worked hard to secure leadership that, we believed, both understood what was best for America and had the courage to stand firm for real change. But the first months of GOP congressional control have been disappointing; if the GOP leadership continues down its current road, the disillusionment now being expressed by erstwhile Obama supporters like Matt Damon will soon be an entirely bipartisan affair.
Certainly, there's no doubt that John Boehner and other congressional leaders have a tough job. In the interest of restoring America's financial health, they are stuck proposing spending cuts and long-term, structural changes to well-beloved entitlement programs. What's more, they're forced to deal with a President whose budget reflected a fundamental unseriousness about the looming fiscal crisis -- and an obvious strategy of abdicating all budgetary responsibility in order to be able to demonize the GOP for any proposed cuts.
Last month, conservatives across the country were treated to fancy rhetorical footwork as some Republicans tried to explain away the collapse of their campaign-era commitment to a $100 billion spending decrease in this year's budget. Further reductions were presented only after substantial push-back from the Tea Party and conservatives.
Just this week, Tom Coburn told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt that a bipartisan "working group" of senators was considering a substantial cut in the home interest rate deduction for houses costing more than $500,000. Although the proposal may hold appeal inside the ornate conference rooms of Capitol Hill, in the real world, it would disproportionately punish homeowners in states with high-value houses, even as it devastates the home-building industry.
Coburn's revelation came even as the GAO issued a report uncovering as much as $100 billion to $200 billion being spent on wasteful and duplicative government programs each year. It's hard not to wonder: If more is to be demanded of the already-overburdened American taxpayer, shouldn't the request come only after government has done its part to "sacrifice" first?
The tone-deafness doesn't stop there. Days drag on, and Americans hear little from top GOP congressional leaders. What they do hear, too often, is filtered through left-leaning cable television shows. Nowhere are GOP leaders explaining why - in contrast to the "exploding deficit" scare of the early 90's - our current fiscal situation presents an unprecedented threat, requiring serious and quick remediation. And amid all the hints about upcoming proposals for spending cuts and tax reform, no one is "connecting the dots" to help regular Americans understand how the proposals will create the conditions that secure economic growth, prosperity and a brighter future for all of us.
Instead, it's beginning to look, once again, like leaders in the highest ranks of the GOP are more focused on their standing inside the Beltway than the promises they made to the people outside it. But this time, that won't cut it; it's an invitation for Tea Partiers to form their own, third party, and a recipe for political disaster come 2012.
But above all, the GOP has to act with the understanding that falling short won't just mean unfortunate electoral results for their politicians. It will mean real trouble for America.