The GOP likes to pretend it likes spending cuts right up until the very moment it actually faces those cuts
Exhibit A is Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., who took to the House floor last week to decry the so-called “sequester” because it “breaks everyone’s heart” to see services such as Head Start and Meals on Wheels cut. “There are numerous Republicans that voted against the sequestration because we knew all of these calamities were in the future,” Bachmann said. “Didn’t you know this was going to happen? We knew it. That’s why we voted against this bill.” As the Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler ably details, Bachmann is significantly rewriting history by claiming that she was against the sequester because it cuts too much from key services. At the time, she very publicly explained that she was against it – and other far more severe budget plans – because it did not cut enough.— Republicans Love ‘Spending Cuts’ More Than Actual Spending Cuts
Is the GOP going to give up on fighting Obamacare?
This isn’t an alternative to ObamaCare it’s a negotiated surrender. In fact, it’s exactly the kind of outcome the White House was hoping for when they launched this process back in 2009. They really wanted a bipartisan bill that a dozen or more Senate Republicans would vote for. It would have made Obama look better, would have given vulnerable Democrats political cover, and it would have sped the process and let other items get on the legislative agenda. If at the time Republicans had organized around concrete asks in exchange for guaranteed votes, they could have easily gotten them. Key players like Max Baucus and Joe Lieberman and the then-large Blue Dog Caucus that held the median position in the House of Representatives were not adverse to this kind of thinking. America ended up with a more left-wing bill because Republicans instead adopted a tactical posture of root-and-branch opposition.— Doug Holtz-Eakin and Avik Roy: Time for Republicans to Surrender on ObamaCare
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, it’s time to prescribe massive doses of Prozac for Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, and the people gullible enough to fork over millions of dollars to Republican and conservative super PACs. Rove’s donors remind me of the proverb that a fool and his money are soon parted. Karl Rove’s New Super PAC Is a Win-Win for Democrats
The ‘bar has shifted’ so far that many of us are delighted, if not amazed, when Republican policymakers voluntarily agree not to crash the global economy on purpose. Our standards for success have fallen so low, we don’t actually expect progress—we instead cheer the absence of political malevolence. ‘Anything Goes’ Is the New Normal in Politics
The growing gulf between the GOP and Silicon Valley
Mr. Obama won the nine counties of the Bay Area by margins ranging from 25 percentage points (in Napa County) to 71 percentage points (in the city and county of San Francisco). In Santa Clara County, home to much of the Silicon Valley, the margin was 42 percentage points. Over all, Mr. Obama won the election by 49 percentage points in the Bay Area, more than double his 22-point margin throughout California. Although San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have long been liberal havens, the rest of the region has not always been so. In 1980, Ronald Reagan won the Bay Area vote over all, along with seven of its nine counties. George H.W. Bush won Napa County in 1988. Republicans have lost every county in the region by a double-digit margin since then. But Democratic margins have become more and more emphatic. Mr. Obama’s 49-point margin throughout the Bay Area this year was considerably larger than Al Gore’s 34-point win in 2000, for example, or Bill Clinton’s 31-point win in 1992.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is the news media becoming a “choose your own adventure”?
Even this past weekend, days after a convincing Obama win, it wasn’t hard to find fringes of the right who are convinced he did so only because of mass voter fraud and mysteriously missing military ballots. Like a political version of “Thelma and Louise,” some far-right conservatives are in such denial that they’d just as soon keep on driving off the cliff than face up to a reality they’d rather not confront. But if the Fox News-talk radio-Drudge Report axis is the most powerful force in the conservative cocoon, technology has rendered even those outlets as merely the most popular destinations in the choose-your-own-adventure news world in which consumers are more empowered than ever.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
How much influence do moderate Republicans have within their own party?
After all, moderates, or at least relative moderates, do continue to exist in the Republican Party. They merely do not exercise power in any meaningful, open way. They provide off-the-record quotations to reporters, expressing unease over whichever radical turn the party has taken at any given moment. They can be found in Washington and elsewhere rolling their eyes at their colleagues. The odd figure with nothing left to lose—say, a senator who has lost a primary challenge—may even deliver a forceful assault on the party’s uncompromising direction. For the most part, though, Republican moderation is a kind of secret creed, a freemasonry of the right. It lacks institutions that might legitimize it, or even a language to express itself. And since conservatism is the only acceptable ideology, the party has no open arguments with itself. Thus the “debate” in the Republican Party is entirely between genuine ideological warriors and unwilling conscripts, with intraparty skirmishes generally taking the form of hunts for secret heresies.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is Romney behind in the polls because he’s a bad candidate or because the GOP’s policies are unpopular?
What, after all, does Romney have to run on? True, he hasn’t offered specifics on his economic policies — but that’s because he can’t. The party base demands tax cuts, but also demands that he pose as a deficit hawk; he can’t do both in any coherent fashion without savaging Medicare and Social Security, yet he’s actually trying to run on the claim that Obama is the threat to Medicare. On fiscal matters, doubletalk and obfuscation are his only options.?> Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
There’s one area where Democrats hope “trickle down” theory will work
Congressional Democrats aren’t letting the opportunity to hammer Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney over his “47 percent” comments slip away. Many agree that “guilt by association” could be a winning argument in some of the party’s toughest elections down-ticket in a few key battleground states. “This helps us in every swing district in America,” says House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland. “Voters are looking to find a party that they believe cares about them, their interests and their future.”Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will there be a civil war in the GOP if Obama wins?
This outcome—in an Obama second term, in 2016, and campaigns beyond—will be magnified or modulated by the course of the irrepressible conflict between the Jeb Bush Republicans and the Paul Ryan Republicans. The two men represent very different paths. Bush stands for a tempered conservatism; he understands the impending demographic doom of a reactionary, anti-Hispanic Republican Party. He’s writing a book on immigration; as he said this summer: “Don’t just … say immediately we must have controlled borders. Change the tone … think we need a broader approach.” Ryan, on the other hand, champions a hardline approach on immigration, along with virtual repeal of the New Deal and the social progress of the 1960s.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at email@example.com
Why going so negative on Obama may have hurt the GOP’s chances in November
This is the downside to the GOP’s four-year scorched-earth policy. By adopting such extreme anti-Obama positions, by taking the stance that any and all efforts to use the resources of the federal government to grow the economy are incipient socialism, and by making the political defeat of Obama, rather than just his policies, the party’s central priority has opened up Republicans to the charge that they have been needless obstructionists who had no plan of their own for fixing the economy. It’s hard not to see Romney’s failure to offer any serious policy proposals for turning the economy around at his own convention as evidence of a party that refuses to contemplate any policy that doesn’t include cutting taxes or shrinking regulation. So the same radical anti-government forces that push Republicans to reject every element of President Obama’s policy agenda also make it impossible for the party’s standard-bearer to offer voters anything more than empty platitudes.Simon Owens is an assistant managing editor at U.S. News & World Report. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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