Why is it that despite the Republicans' resounding electoral victory in 2010 based on their promises for real change, many of us have a queasy feeling they're not quite measuring up to the task, even in the climate of Democratic infighting and President Obama's weaknesses?
The Hill reports that there is developing dissension between Obama and Senate Democrats, whose respective "political fortunes ... are moving in opposite directions, complicating their efforts to win a titanic battle against Republicans over federal spending."
Obama is trying to stay above the fray and letting Democratic legislators twist in the wind of conflict with GOP congressmen over a possible government shutdown. His plan is to ride in just in time to take credit for the ultimate resolution and be seen as "a bipartisan problem solver."
Meanwhile, many Senate Democrats believed to be vulnerable in 2012 defected from their party's proposal to cut spending. But hardly any Democrats, including the defectors, can be regarded as serious in their approach to the debt crisis now plaguing this country.
Yet are congressional Republicans capitalizing on this Democratic disunity and incompetence? To be sure, there are positive signs, such as the diligent efforts of Rep. Paul Ryan to help craft a comprehensive plan to severely reduce discretionary spending and substantively tackle entitlement reform. And Ryan isn't alone. Other conservative representatives and senators are standing strong.
But when we shift our gaze to the Republican leadership in the Senate and House and even to some of the House freshmen for whom we've had high expectations, we see cause for concern. The first real confrontation with Obama, whose party had been trounced the month before, came in December and resulted in a compromise that I believe yielded Democrats a slight victory, notwithstanding the temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts.
Next came the House GOP's disappointing failure to make much headway in defunding Obamacare, which it blamed on insurmountable legislative rules. Then Republicans scrambled like scared rabbits to avert a government shutdown and acceded to a continuing resolution until March 4 -- and then through March 18 -- which contained cuts but also allowed Democrats to kick the ball down the road another month or so. Vice President Joe Biden, who was to be instrumental in negotiating with Republicans, used the extension as an opportunity to take off on an international trip, apparently without even a superficial nod toward resolving the issues.
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