The great American engine of democracy is beginning to build up a head of steam, and it remains the finest device created by man to organize collective human action.
Two months ago, the conventional wisdom held that Washington would do nothing of consequence to start dealing with our fiscal crisis. Certainly, that was the political baseline for the president's Feb. 14 budget proposal for 2012, which, while roundly condemned as a call to inaction, was seen as politically "shrewd."
Then, about a month ago the Republican-led House of Representatives passed $61 billion in budget cuts for the remainder of the 2011 budget -- as the Democratic Party-controlled Congress had failed to pass any budget while they were in majority last year.
That action produced a new conventional wisdom -- that the GOP effort to make some cuts in the 2011 budget would lead to "civil war" between GOP leadership and the tea party faction -- and risked being condemned by the public for implicitly threatening to shut the government down.
Then about a fortnight ago, GOP Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan produced a proposed budget for 2012 that would reorganize and trim Medicare and Medicaid programs, otherwise bring federal spending back to its historic 20 percent of GDP level, reduce tax rates and loopholes (while keeping revenue neutral) and bring the budget into balance by 2040.
This assured most tea party freshmen that the GOP leadership was serious about deficit reduction and brought out the predictable Democratic Party response: The GOP wanted to cause cancer in women, "kill" women and the elderly and generally impose barbaric morals on a helpless public. Then conventional wisdom declaimed that Ryan was an honorable idealist -- but he was leading the GOP to political suicide.
However, over the last weekend, Speaker Boehner successfully negotiated a $40 billion spending cut for the remainder of 2011, civil war did not break out in the GOP and within hours, the White House suddenly announced that after all, the president would announce -- by this Wednesday -- his plans to deal with the deficit by, among other things, curbing entitlement costs.
Steady leadership by Boehner and the House GOP, powered by a growingly alert public, has turned the president of the United States' stated deficit reduction policy objective 180 degrees in two months. And this from a president who the Washington political and journalistic wizards have been proclaiming to be almost certain to be re-elected.
Well, no president who is confident of re-election chooses to embarrass himself by so conspicuously reversing himself on the central domestic issue of his time within two months -- unless he fears a new mood among the voters.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.
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