Friday, November 30, 2012

Tyrannus Rex

So, has Grover Norquist reached his use-by date, like Karl Rove?

I don't think so, but David Horsey does, and so do many others.  This is one of those times I'd love to be wrong.

Norquist has never been elected to anything. Nobody ever said he should be in charge of the GOP’s true religion (although he claims President Ronald Reagan urged him to found his lobbying group, Americans for Tax Reform). But he certainly has been the Republicans’ key political theologian, making opposition to tax increases the party’s central tenet for more than 25 years.

He got 95% of Republican candidates for Congress, the presidency and state offices to sign a pledge never to raise taxes and he enforced it by getting retribution at reelection time on anyone who failed to keep the promise. Now, though, he is facing a dramatic rebellion in the ranks. The country is teetering on the so-called fiscal cliff thanks to Republican-backed legislation from 2011 that will automatically begin slashing the federal budget and raise taxes on Jan. 1 if an alternative plan is not adopted by Congress. This has everyone a bit freaked out, including quite a few GOP senators and representatives who have expressed a willingness to consider revenue increases for the sake of making a budget deal with the Democrats.   [Emphasis added]

I do understand the logic.  Republicans are suddenly faced with a problem of their own making, a big one.  In fact, it's a very big one.  They've just lost an election and, while they still hold the House, they've lost ground in both houses of  Congress and the electorate appears to be in a very pissy mood when it comes to tax breaks for the 1%.

And President Obama, who has that second term Mitch McConnell was determined to deny him, has suddenly gotten a little surly.  He seems to think that he has a little political capital to spend so he's whipping that out against the GOP on the fiscal cliff issues.

House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, was likely to meet strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other entitlements, to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer said those initial spending cuts might well be outnumbered by upfront spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare.

This is a great opening gambit, one that should have been used four years ago when the Democrats had control of both houses as well as the presidency.  It would have made a difference then.  But, no, Mr. Hopey-Changey was all into bipartisanship, and the Democrats for all sorts of reasons played along.  That's why a single payer system or even a public option system for health care were never on the table. 

Gitmo is still open.  We are still operating under Bush rules for reading our emails and checking our library habits.  Oil companies are still drilling in sensitive areas, even after a catastrophic spill in the Gulf Coast.  Our use of drones has been expanded.  Wall Street is still calling the tunes.  No change, and for most of us, no hope.

 So, is the opening gambit a sign that times have changed?

I tend to think not.  Sometime before Christmas, a deal will be reached.  Our current crop of Democrats in the 112th Congress will have their collars tweaked by our owners, as will the President. Social Security will suddenly be on the table, as will Medicare/Medicaid, all before Christmas.  And we know what that means.  In 2014 both Karl Rove and Grover Norquist will be back in action.  With a vengeance.

Like I said at the start, I'd love to be wrong, so I called the DC offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Congressman David Dreier and made my wishes clear.  I figure one for three is the best I'll do, but maybe that will be enough to get us to the 113th Congress.  Maybe we'll have better luck there.

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