10.01.2008 0

Endgame

  • On: 10/07/2008 10:19:05
  • In: Entitlements
  • “Now the children try to find it,
    And they can’t believe their eyes.
    For the old team isn’t playing,
    And the new team hardly tries.”

    – There Used to Be a Ballpark

    There’s a dangerous endgame being played out in the Nation’s Capital today. At stake are 33 seats in the U.S. Senate and all 435 in the House of Representatives. The presidency of the United States is also at stake. And the winner will determine the direction of the U.S. economy for decades to come.

    Unfortunately, only one side seems aware that the endgame’s afoot.

    From the Oval Office to the Halls of Congress to their ornate dukedoms at the RNC, the Republicans in Washington seem to have abandoned the field to the opposition, furtively searching for an easy way out, white flags aflutter and mouths agape. The Democrats, for their part, have seized the offensive with reckless abandon, determined to drive the final nails in Reaganomics and bring back Big Government with an agenda that would be the envy of the comintern.

    As Robert Novak wrote in his May 5 column, “The Speaker Unchecked”:

    “Operating outside the public view, the House Democratic majority is taking extraordinary steps to maintain spending as usual while awaiting the arrival of a Democratic president. Remarkably, the supine House Republican minority hardly resists and even collaborates with its supposed adversaries.”

    In order to get around President Bush’s vague threat to veto congressional spending bills he may consider excessive, House Democrats for the second year in a row plan are passing a single omnibus bill encompassing all domestic spending. In response, House Republicans are doing what they’ve come to do best: feigning indignation – then rolling over and playing dead.

    Here’s how Novak reported the GOP charade when the tempest in a teapot arose over regulations to limit funds to the states for Medicaid:

    “Less expansive but more audacious is what Democrats are doing to the administration’s Medicaid rules, which would impose fiscal integrity on states tapping into the federal funds for that runaway program. The bill passed by the House on April 23 would ‘temporarily’ suspend those rules through March 2009, and the plan is for President Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton to get rid of them for good. Because the president is not subject to pay-as-you-go rules requiring offsets for lost revenue or added spending, the government would lose $17.8 billion over five years and $42.2 billion over 10 years, according to estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

    “With governors lobbying for the suspension, the House Energy and Commerce Committee was all for it. Two Republican committee members told me they had received the high sign from party leaders that it was all right to vote for the cleverly titled Medicaid Safety Net Act, which was sponsored by the committee’s Democratic chairman, John Dingell.

    “Conservative opposition changed the climate. Inside the committee, John Shadegg of Arizona and Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee turned against it — arousing the ire of the committee’s ranking Republican, Joe Barton of Texas. When Barton argued that all 50 governors supported the bill, Shadegg replied that he did not care about governors. ‘If you believe Medicaid has gone out of control,’ Shadegg told me, ‘why would you vote for this bill?’

    “In a closed-door House Republican conference before the April 23 vote, Minority Whip Roy Blunt opposed the bill on procedural grounds, because there was no opportunity for amendments. All GOP leaders voted against the bill, but their vaunted whip operation stood dormant. With a rare opportunity to go on record against entitlements, House Republicans voted 128 to 62 for spending. Democrats were unanimous as the bill passed 349 to 62 [emphasis added].”

    Really, the operative words in the entire Novak expose are in the second sentence of the final paragraph: “… but their vaunted whip operation stood dormant.”

    In other words, when push came to shove, the Republicans did neither. With a wink and nudge from the House leadership, the rank and file voted two to one to continue the spending glut. And they handed the Democrats an entitlement victory that signaled the surrender to come.

    Such is the state of the “supine Republican minority,” to quote Novak. But, actually, that’s not surprising. Because for more than a decade, such was also the state of the supine Republican majority – in the House and Senate alike.

    For more than a decade, the supine Republican majority did little or nothing to bring so-called “entitlements” under control, and the Welfare Vulture Culture grew unabated.

    For more than a decade, the supine Republican majority did little or nothing to reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy, and the union bosses built an army of lockstep public employees.

    For more than a decade, the supine Republican majority did little or nothing to end earmarking, preferring instead to pile on their own largesse.

    And for more than a decade the supine Republican majority did little or nothing to reduce federal spending, make the tax cuts permanent, and bridle the leviathan waiting in the wings to reassert its stranglehold.

    So, now, the Democrats are charging back, Big Government banners aloft, staring in amusement and, yes, amazement at a retreating GOP that – having failed to lead when given the nod – now nods off in acquiescence.

    And the endgame draws to a whimpering close, as an ever-hopeful American public looks to its heroes for a last hurrah … and a sad refrain drifts across a largely abandoned field: “the old team isn’t playing, and the new team hardly tries.”

    ALG CTA: If what now must be termed the remnants of the GOP are to roar back and mount a fight, it will likely only be because limited government adherents in the nation’s media sound the alarm and spur the battle. So …

    “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
    … when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger:
    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood.”
    Henry V” (5.3.44-51)


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