Gen. George McClellan commanded Union forces during the Civil War. He famously and constantly retreated across the map despite having larger forces than Gen. Robert E. Lee. At one point, meeting with his generals in the White House, Abraham Lincoln commented, "If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time." Ultimately, Abraham Lincoln dismissed him.
Gen. McCellan seems alive and well, having returned as the senior consultant to the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.
After Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in January 2011, they fought a significant fight against Barack Obama over the debt ceiling. Were they to raise the ceiling so the government could borrow more money, they wanted spending concessions. Though deeply unpopular among lobbyists in Washington, the outcome of the fight was a Presidential cave and sequestration of the federal budget.
For the first time in many years, real spending decreased. Ever since, the Republicans have been running from it. In January of 2013, Sen. John Cornyn claimed the Republicans might have to shut down the government if President Obama would not negotiate with them on the debt ceiling. During the summer of 2013, Republican leaders urged conservatives not to fight over a budget, but to make their fight against Obamacare through a debt-ceiling vote. Now? Speaker Boehner insists the GOP go along for the ride and raise the debt ceiling with no strings attached.
While that might be preferable to stringing Republicans along with a fight they intend to surrender on, it is still a surrender.
Concurrent to this fight, the Congressional Budget Office released an updated report on the impact of the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." Page 128 grimly reports, "CBO's updated estimate of the decrease in hours worked translates to a reduction in full-time-equivalent employment of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024."
Page 124 of the CBO report notes the "Over time, CBO expects, the penalty will be borne primarily by workers in the form of reduced wages or other compensation." The same page worryingly suggests "Businesses ... may respond to the employer penalty by seeking to reduce or limit their full-time staffing and to hire more part-time employees."
Liberals in the media took all of this in stride. The "reduction in full-time-equivalent employment," they said, had everything to do with people opting to work fewer hours or pursuing their dreams now that they could sit more comfortably on the social safety net. In fact, while the CBO did say some of the departures from the workforce would be voluntary, the report clearly showed not all would be. Further, for those who remain in the workforce, many will see a decline in wages because of Obamacare.
The CBO found that there is no concrete, but there certainly is "anecdotal evidence," of some employers shifting employees to part-time employment. More importantly, the CBO notes that after 2015, it is likely employers will begin to transition to part-time employment for employees.
Conservatives predicted all these things. Conservatives predicted doctor shortages, which are beginning to happen. They said the President was not telling the truth when he told people they could keep their doctors, insurance and hospitals. They were right. They were right that the value of wages would decline, part-time employment would increase and many would be shut out of the labor market.
And the Republican response? Nothing. They will not fight on the debt ceiling. They will not fight against Obamacare. Instead, they will divide their own party over immigration. Certainly, for now, they say that too is dead. After the threat of primary season ends, though, they might resurrect it. Their deep-pocketed lobbyist donors covet it relentlessly.
Not since George McClellan have we seen so many retreats, surrenders and failures to act on American soil. If John Boehner and Mitch McConnell do not wish to use their party, some of us would like to borrow it.