Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice

People over a certain age, say twenty, will recall the last time a GOP Congress tried to hold a Presidency hostage.
Clearly, overtones of that debacle shadowed Republican obstructionism all year, but as I predicted early on (can't be arsed to do the search, I'm guessing it was late February,) sooner or later events were going to catch up with Weaker Boener and his faction. The split in the Republican party was too deep for the usual "marching orders" to have much effect.
In the 1995-1996 shut down, the signature moment, when the Republican Congress became the hated enemy and lost the political ground they slowly earned in the 1994 election as well as any moral authority with the Clinton administration, came during a trip to Israel aboard Air Force One for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin. Newt Gingrich lambasted the President on the record for not taking the opportunity to discuss the budget impact and for making Gingrich exit through the back door of the plane (like every other Congressional leader before and since.)
Any negative impact the shutdown had on Clinton's poll numbers immediately shifted to Gingrich and he lost the battle and the war.
Weaker Boener has been particularly circumspect when it comes to overt signals like that, and avoiding a shut down in the first place (something that would have angered his constituency more than a small tax hike on the rich, I suspect.)
Until now. By walking away from a tax cut, albeit a stop-gap cut designed to allow Congress to head home for the holidays but more important, to give hope to the working people of America, Weaker Boener has committed the unpardonable sin of not only raising taxes, but taking away a tax cut he himself opposed in the first place, but eventually acceded was a good idea.
Meaning, he's going to get blamed for this failure. Correctly, in my view. It's disingenuous to first oppose, then grudgingly support, then steal back a tax cut, particularly in an era when real Americans are watching every penny. Now he'll have to pass the original tax cut Obama proposed extending (one year) which he vehemently opposed in favor of the two-month stop gap, which he was OK with then, but not now.
$40 a week matters to people who live paycheck to paycheck and that sadly has become the norm in the American middle and especially working classes. It's a day or two worth of food. It's bus fare for a month. It's a tutor for a child struggling with algebra. It's gas for the car.
Boener's shortsightedness looks like it may finally have driven a stake deep into the heart of the undead party that is the GOP, as well. He will have to continue to placate the Eric Cantor batwing, while explaining to the Senate Republican caucus, which backed this extension by 83% to 17%, how he could sell them out so readily.
There's a woodshed on the back of which his name is emblazoned, methinks.