There are five key elements on the GOP agenda in the CR showdown --$61 billion in cuts (watered down from the Pledge’s promise of $100 billion), the defunding of Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and legislative blocks (called riders) prohibiting the HHS and EPA from writing Obamacare and carbon emission rules respectively. This is what the Speaker must get from the Democrats or he will have lost the first showdown with the Democrats, and with it, the confidence of the base. The Speaker does not appear to care much about this as he has been indifferent to communicating with voters who don’t watch Meet the Press, as has been Eric Cantor, who has delegated what little attempt to message as has been made to Wisconsin’s Paul Ryan and California’s Kevin McCarthy, but they too have all but vanished from the airwaves and the virtual debates.
There is no messenger because there is no message. There is no message because there is no plan except "Wait until the 2012 budget," which isn't a plan for anything except the loss of momentum and mandate.
On Tuesday scores of Republicans deserted the leadership over the new CR and its absurd claim of real cuts –you know, the sort that don’t bleed anyone. The leadership rushed forward with a fake bill to defund NPR that has no chance to pass the Senate and which is quite obviously intended as a sop to the fly-over voters who are easily fooled by the Beltway sharpies. More gimmicks no doubt are right around the corner as the GOP maneuvers to avoid anything that the MSM might label a government shutdown and criticize the Republicans for.
The House GOP is truly fighting the last war, not realizing that the Clinton-Gingrich battle of 1995 might as well have occurred in 1895 so much have circumstances changed.
The U.S. is spending $3,600 billion a year, with $1,600 billion of it borrowed. The House GOP is quivering at the prospect of a showdown over forcing a cut of $6o of the $3,600 billion!
The House members return to their districts next week, and they deserve the scorn they will receive. They elected and empowered the leadership, and they have allowed the leadership to imperil all they worked for via timidity and Beltway politics, a monumentally incompetent communications strategy, and a “I got my chairmanship back!” mentality that quickly saw the old bulls take back the perks and push the new members aside with promises of reform down the road.
It has been a complete fiasco to date, and threatens to get worse. Jim Jordan the chair of the Republican Study Committee has a caucus of 177 members. He should use it to fashion and enforce demands. It is very hard to change leadership in the middle of a Session, but these freshmen members must know their jobs are on the line and the strategy adopted by the leadership is alienating voters and especially their volunteers and contributors, and making them look like fools or incompetents.
They don't have to win, but they do have to at least try to win. Thus far they haven't, and the political toll is immense.