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First things . . . Richard Falknor on 18 Apr 2011 09:47 pm

Will S&P’s ‘Negative’ Outlook Enable A GOP Misstep?

UPDATE! Nicole Gelinas warns (City Journal) “GOP, Beware the S&P: The ratings agency would be just as happy with tax hikes as with spending cuts.”- – “Republicans might think that S&P’s blockbuster announcement is good news for them politically—but they’d be wrong.

The Wall Street Journal’s Stephan Bernard reports today in his “S&P Cuts U.S. Ratings Outlook to Negative” —

“NEW YORK—Ratings firm Standard & Poor’s cut its outlook on U.S. government debt to ‘negative’ from ‘stable’ for the first time in history, citing ongoing concerns over the long-term fiscal health of the country. S&P analysts hosted a call explaining their decision to keep the U.S. at a AAA rating, but move the outlook to ‘negative.’ MarketBeat live-blogged the call. Here is the recap. S&P is unsure that the ‘gulf of differences’ between Republicans and Democrats over how to reduce the country’s fiscal deficit can be overcome to provide meaningful long-term change, said David Beers, S&P’s global head of sovereign debt ratings. S&P did affirm the country’s top-notch triple-A rating. ‘The underlying trajectory of the debt burden is still rising,’ he said. Other triple-A-rated countries that have faced similar problems, such as the U.K., have implemented new measures to handle debt problems, leaving the U.S. behind in the fight against rising debt, he said. The ratings company believes the chances that the U.S.’s credit rating will be lowered within two years are around one-in-three.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Will this very troubling report move the House GOP leadership to try to secure substantially more than make-believe “deals” aimed at convincing the world that the U.S. is reversing course and moving to get its deficit under control?

Or – – will the GOP leadership use this bad economic forecast to browbeat members into acquiescing in some bi-partisan budget “solution” ensuring that governmentalism stays in control in the United States? The 2008 TARP vote comes to mind.

Will Speaker John Boehner stay with his GOP “risk-avoidance” approach of making symbolic cuts around the edges, and keeping Obamacare funding off the negotiating table? Will he continue to search for “deals” that please the Establishment?

“An act of deeply destructive political theater on the American people.”

Here is an excerpt from the transcript “Mark Steyn On The Most Historic Budget Cutting Bill In History…That Spends $3 Billion More Than Last Year” of the back-and-forth between Hugh Hewitt (HH) and Mark Steyn (MS) last Thursday:

“HH: And I was heartened at the fact that Pawlenty, Romney, Gingrich and every other Republican who has commented on the budget deal denounced it as being weak tea, and the President’s speech was just dismissed out of hand. So at least the presidential candidates are reflecting the national electorate. I want to go back to the D.C. elite, Mark Steyn. It seems to me this was a giant exercise in empowering lobbyists in Washington’s special deal making, and that this time, it was the friends of the Republicans that won the deals.

MS: Right.

HH: And that whole thing last week wasn’t really about cutting spending. It was about snipping and cutting and recalculating things for our lobbying colleagues.

MS: Yeah, and I think there are two, I think you have to assume that John Boehner is not a stupid man, so that he well understands the authentic character of this deal. And that’s even more problematic than him just being stupid and getting rolled by the Democrats, because it suggests that the Republican party were willing to perpetrate an act of deeply destructive political theater on the American people. And that is worrying to me. The issue, I think, for the Republicans is a simple one. It’s authenticity. They want a guy who’s going to stand up and tell the truth, and is not going to be the creature of anyone except the citizenry of the United States. This is the time for a Republican virtues, and a citizen executive who understands that he is the servant of the people. And that’s everything John Boehner has thrown away in the days since Friday.

HH: All right, best case scenario, and I’ll let you see whether or not it’s got any wings at all, is that Boehner knew what he was doing, but this was the Beltway class’ payoff for getting the Republicans back into power with finances and support, and that the debt bill is where the real knives come out, and Boehner brings down the hammer.

MS: Yeah, I keep getting told… every time we get a disappointment, where Republicans don’t take a stand, we’re told oh, don’t worry about it. Next time is where the real battle is. Next time is where the real battle is. Next time is now. Not just for the Republican party, but for the United States of America. And that’s why this party has to act as if there are things it believes in, in the way that the Democrats do. The Democrats went to the mat for Planned Parenthood funding.” (Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)

Read the entire revealing transcript where Steyn exclaims —

“But if this is the best John Boehner can do, then I’m sorry, this country is dead. And there’s no question about it, because the political institutions are impervious to course correction.”

Is the GOP Leadership Even On The Conservative Team?

There is little evidence that Speaker John Boehner shares conservative objectives.  He is not a smaller-government fellow; he is strangely silent about Obamacare; and it is fairly clear he doesn’t want to derail it, as dangerous as it is to let the program remain and grow.

Stanley Kurtz has dire warnings about Obamacare today:

“Will Republicans have the guts to expose Obama’s strategy and call him on it, as they did in 2010? Will they go after IPAB and the permanent health-care rationing regime Obama means to cement in place, or will they merely defend Ryan’s proposal against the avalanche of attacks sure to come?”

In short, Boehner may “talk right” but he fails to act effectively.  And he managed to dragoon most of the GOP freshmen into voting for last week’s ridiculous deal. Stephen Moore wrote today in the WSJ’s Political Diary: “More than a handful of House Republicans have confessed to me in recent days that they ‘held my nose’ and voted for the budget resolution. They didn’t feel good about themselves in the morning and some are already grumbling that they probably should have voted no.”

Yesterday RedState chief Erick Erickson explained

“There is a reason Donald Trump is doing so well in Republican polling. It is the same reason Sarah Palin resonates so well with the base. It is the same reason Michele Bachmann resonates so well. At a time when Republican leaders are trying to look ‘grown up’ and ‘reasonable’ in the eyes of the Washington Press Corps, Michele Bachmann is fighting the left. Michele Bachmann is willing to pick a fight to replace Obamacare when John Boehner and Eric Cantor are willing to roll over. Bachmann is willing to pick a fight on the debt ceiling when the leadership is, even now, negotiating an increase in the debt ceiling while yet again selling out conservatives.(Underscoring Forum’s.)

The central issue is whether conservatives are strong enough to get control of the GOP and organize a win in the 2012 election. In doing so, we must recognize that the GOP leadership in the Congress is not our best friend.There are very strong forces in the Right Wing of the Big Government Party working against conservatives. We can’t let the captivating drama of the nomination race, however, distract our voters from focussing on the hard issues before us right now.

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