What should conservatives make of this provocative post from "RB" at the Right Sphere, which basically counsels Congressional Republicans to just get out of the way and let Obama have his way on the fiscal cliff? Though I have some fundamental quarrels with the premise, I must confess that RB's "let it burn" playbook is certainly appealing on some level:
I’ve been watching the negotiations – if you can call Republicans negotiating with themselves while Obama still hasn’t put a plan on the table “negotiating” – over the “Fiscal Cliff” for weeks and it’s time for the GOP to stop before Lucy pulls the football away… again. Here’s the reality: Obama is willing to go over the fiscal cliff instead of giving on tax hikes because he knows the GOP will get blamed for whatever happens if a deal isn’t reached. Republicans simply don’t have the skills to pull off blaming it on Democrats. They also don’t have a complicit media to help explain the reality of who is really holding the economy hostage (aka Obama). Also, if the GOP agrees to tax hikes in exchange for something else – like entitlement reform, but only the promise of reform which we know will never come to fruition – they will predictably get slaughtered for “caving” instead of compromising, which is actually what they’d be doing. Again, the GOP doesn’t have the skill or a complicit media to explain how they compromised while Obama and Democrats didn’t.
We have to fight with the army we have, and right now we don’t have an army. Not in Washington DC, at least. There simply aren’t enough conservatives in positions of power to make anything that would actually work to fix the economy happen. Basically, it’s Paul Ryan and a couple dozen Congressman and Senators who have anything remotely close to a long term solution, but Ryan is the only one with a leadership position and he can’t do squat with Harry Reid as Majority Leader in the Senate. So what do they do? They’re stuck in a no-win situation. The answer is simple: Give Obama what he wants. All of it. Don’t negotiate. Just say “Put your plan up for a vote and we’ll pass it. You will own everything that happens moving forward. We’ll do it your way.”
So step one is more or less a unilateral surrender. If I subscribed to this view, I'd recommend ripping a page out of Obama's old playbook and voting "present" en masse, rather than signing onto the destructive agenda. Step two? Blame game turnabout:
From the moment they pass the legislation Obama wants, [Republicans] must be disciplined in pointing out that every failure of this new law to fix the fiscal and economic problems it was meant to fix was a Democrat / Obama idea. The GOP must be diligent in highlighting how they had zero impact on the final version of the bill. Everything Obama and the Democrats wanted went in without opposition from the GOP. Obama and the Democrats own every single line on every single page. Over and over and over again, the case will need to be made that the GOP washed their hands of the matter and let Obama and the Democrats have their way to avoid the fiscal cliff. Did you lose your job because of the higher tax rates? The GOP had nothing to do with it. Oh! Are prices higher for everything? The GOP had nothing to do with it. What’s that? Federal revenues didn’t go up? Ask Obama about that, he’s the one who said they’d go up. Etc. Etc. Etc. It’s time for the country to face the reality of Obamanomics. It’s going to hurt like hell. Some people will never blame Obama and the Democrats for the pain, but they will be in the minority. Enough is enough. Bring the pain. We’ll be better off in the long run.
Like its recent predecessors, whatever compromise that emerges will likely be unpalatable to all involved and woefully unequal to the nation's challenges. The temptation for Republicans to wash their hands of the whole business and force Democrats to "own it" is intense. Democrats walked the plank alone on Obamacare and paid a huge price in 2010. Nevertheless, I have two objections to this strategy -- one political, the other on principle. Politically speaking, we know that tax hikes, burdensome regulation and a dangerously out-of-control levels of debt are all economic disasters in the making. Barring significant action, our economy will eventually collapse under the weight of the Left's failed and unsustainable policies, just as we're seeing today throughout Europe. But America's economy is resilient and her people industrious. There is no guarantee that the ultimate implosion would even occur on Obama's watch. If the economy experienced a fleeting cyclical uptick, Obama would rush out to the cameras and assert that his plans had worked (hell, he's done that already, even when they demonstrably have not). This would be a temporary achievement -- the piper still has to be paid at some point -- but his declaration of victory would simple enough to be politically viable. Obama's message of 'we can't go back to the policies that got us into this mess' was dishonest and nonsensical throughout the campaign, but the specifics didn't matter. It fit an easy narrative that people could understand, and it worked. If Republicans choose to lie down and hand Obama free rein, they would place their entire future agenda at the mercy of outside events. A huge risk. Secondly, and more importantly, this is the wrong thing to do. Nearly 60 million citizens voted against Barack Obama's re-election. The American people returned a substantial Republican majority to the House of Representatives. They didn't do so in order to hand Democrats another blank check. Republicans ran on a platform and promised to do everything within their power to adhere to their principles, to act in the interest of the people, and to stop the other side's worst ideas from coming to fruition. We've already tried the "let Democrats control everything" experiment, and it went very poorly. It's true that Republicans benefited from their opponents' overreach in the next election, but the nation will be (literally) paying for that brief all-blue interlude for generations. In short, a tactical GOP surrender of this sort -- despite its admitted allure -- would represent an unacceptable betrayal of millions of voters, a breach of the public trust, and a reckless opening for Democrats to inflict even further economic damage to our nation. We can't afford that, nor can the world.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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