Republicans are 1-4 against President Obama, having lost two elections and two big showdowns with him. The only time the GOP won a round was after the blowout of 2010, and that win was limited in time –a two year extension of the Bush era tax rates.
There are at least three more showdowns with the president ahead, one of them in the immediate future as the debt limit looms. The president began this round last week, and was backed up in his posturing by Chuck Schumer. The president says he won’t negotiate over the debt limit. Schumer says “Yeah, that’s the ticket. No negotiation, unless taxes go up.”
Mitch McConnell has replied for the Congressional GOP and has done so forcefully, stating bluntly the tax hikes are over.
The Speaker has been silent and his leadership team has adopted his reticence.
The clock is ticking. The president and the Senate Dems are racing out to the same sort of lead that Alabama established last night. The House GOP has to get into the game, and soon.
Speaker Boehner has committed the House to return to “regular order.” I discussed this last week with Congressmen John Campbell and Paul Ryan and Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and yesterday with Senator Pat Toomey.
“Regular order” means that the House will pass a bill, send it to the Senate and wait for its return in a wholly different form, or with slight amendment, and then summon a conference of House and Senate negotiators to hammer out the details pending final votes in both houses and then referral to the president for his signature or veto.
The promise to return to “regular order” comes as the Republicans in Congress prepare to confront the president over the country’s out-of-control spending binge. The president wants to raise the limit on the country’s credit card –the “debt ceiling”—and the Republicans won’t do that unless spending reforms are put into place, specifically, reforms of entitlement spending.
The following key reforms have been identified as key starting points for the return of fiscal sanity:
1. Conform Medicare eligibility with Social Security’s retirement age. Under existing law the latter is slowly rising to 67.
2. Raise both Medicare and Social Security eligibility to 70 over the next 13 years.
3. Reform the cost-of-living provisions of Social Security by substituting a “chained CPI” in the place of the current method of calculation COLAs.