First things . . . Richard Falknor on 01 Apr 2011 08:51 am
“Boehner said he is glad that [Tea Party] activists remain involved. But he cautioned that Republicans control just ‘one-half of one-third of the government here in Washington, we can’t impose our will on another body, we can’t impose our will on the Senate.'” — Newsmax report
“The Republican Party acts as if it is without recourse. Republican administrations — with the exception of a brief eight-year respite under Ronald Reagan — more or less remain on the glide path set by Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.” — Mark Levin in 2009. (Underscoring Forum’s.)
Hugh Hewitt’s transcript of his interview with Mark Steyn dated yesterday illuminates the serious problem that conservatives face in trying to achieve their goals through the current Republican leadership.
But before we highlight some of Steyn’s and Hewitt’s more telling exchanges, let’s revisit the forward edge of battle this Friday morning.
The House GOP leadership has apparently made avoiding “shutdown,” the boundary of their effort to shape Federal outlays for the balance of this fiscal year. The leadership’s too-many uncritical followers in the “conservative” blogosphere have echoed this “goal.”
The House GOP leadership has (artfully) changed the subject from not stopping Obamacare. What the public sees is the fog of offers and counter-offers for very modest first steps to cut the deficit.
Faithful readers know that knowledgeable conservative voices and analysts have addressed the so-called shutdown (a slowdown as Heritage calls it) issue. Last week former Senate Steering Committee general counsel Michael Hammond’s “Where This Is Headed” (RedState) explained an alternative strategy. Heritage Distinguished Fellow (and former long-time U.S. Representative from Oklahoma) Ernest Istook raised unanswered questions (by the GOP House leadership) in his “Untouchable. That’s the treatment being given to the $23.6 billion being spent right now to implement Obamacare.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)
The Current House GOP Team
The problem Tea Partyers and the conservative grass roots always faced just before (and after) last November 2 was getting the House GOP leadership team to be aggressive advocates of a smaller-government agenda.
After all, the Speaker had helped engineer and vote for the No Child Left Behind legislation. Both the Speaker and current Majority Leader Eric Cantor had voted for the entitlement-ballooning Medicare Prescription Drug Act. This was long before their voting for the TARP legislation in the waning days of the George W. Bush presidency.
How can politicians with such a voting background, politicians who flourished in the political culture of former Speaker Dennis Hastert’s House of Representatives, politicians who never renounced this larger-government voting record, effectively carry out the expectations of both the House GOP freshman as well as the core of veteran conservatives in that body?
But let’s look at this week’s Hewitt-Steyn exchange:
“MS [Mark Steyn]: ‘No, I think you’re right. I think that they [a lot of the Republicans in the Congress] think, they look on November as a hissy fit, and that it’s, one is occasionally obliged to string along with the more intemperate members of one’s base. But once the election’s safely in the bag, it’s back to business as usual. And that’s the danger. I think that is the danger here. I like, I mean, I like what Rubio said yesterday, and I like what Mike Pence said. But they all should be talking like that. And someone, you know, even Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe ought to be talking like that. This is an existential crisis for the United States of America. The debt ceiling, I mean, in a sense, there are no good answers to that question. If we don’t approve the raising of the debt ceiling, then we’re telling the world that the superpower is on the brink of defaulting, and that will end the dollar as a global currency. But if we do just raise the debt ceiling in business as usual terms, then we’re also telling the world that we’re fundamentally unserious about getting control of this insane level of spending. So the extremists here, the extremists are the guys who are not recognizing the reality of the situation. It has nothing to do with mid-century. It has nothing to do with 2030. It’s nothing to do with 2020. The consequences of this irresponsible and in fact wicked behavior are going to kick in long before 2020.‘”
“MS [Mark Steyn]: ‘For example, your EPA suggestion is a good one, because one of the things the Republicans ought to be fundamentally committed to is the restoration of responsible government in this republic, where laws are made by legislators accountable to citizens, which means we roll back regulation, and we constrain agencies who have grown far too used to legislating on their own, regardless of how the legislature votes, or how the voters vote. And so something like that actually lays down, it’s not important, particularly, in terms of the budget for 2011, but it lays down a marker. It says that this is who we are as a party. We believe in responsible government, we believe in a land where the laws are made by legislators accountable to the citizens. And that, things like that are worth doing, and they’re worth compromising on $10 or $15 billion, or whatever here and there, but they’ve got to be talking in those, they’ve got to be framing the debate in those terms. Otherwise, it’s just the usual nickel and dime, Washington deal-making, reach across the aisle-y stuff that everybody loathes. Everybody loathes.'”
“HH [Hugh Hewitt]: ‘And I do not, correct me if you’ve heard someone talking in those terms. I have yet to hear any Republican leader talk in those terms of markers and principle.'”
“MS [Mark Steyn] ‘I think this is going to be one of those things where you want to think how your vote [for any so-called compromise package that comes out of the leadership] is going to look two to four to six to eight years down the road. And this is going to be one of those, I think you’re right, that this is going to be one of those issues that defines who you are, and whether you understand where the United States is at this moment in history.‘ (Underscoring Forum’s throughout.)
Read the entire Hewitt-Steyn exchange here
Can the House freshman and the core of veteran conservatives in that body — with the help of grass-roots conservatives around the nation — bring the GOP leadership to an awareness of what courageous steps must be taken right away in this budget battle?
For, as Mark Steyn points out, the stakes are vastly higher than whether the old media and the “sophisticated Beltway types” will blame Mr. Boehner and Mr. Cantor for “shutting down the government.”