Today is a D-Day of sorts for the House Freshman, the day they hit the beach. I have a somewhat contrarian view about how they should hit this beach in our first assault on the occupied territories of Fortress Democrat.
There are two general views about how this assault should occur:
One, sponsored by the Republican House Leadership, (Boehner, Cantor & Co…boo, hiss, boo) is that they should continue cutting the budget in 5-6 billion dollar pieces, in exchange for another, then another, 3-4week Continuing Resolution (CR). Their long term plan is to draw down that promised $100 billion cut in increments, until they come to crunch time and the Debt Ceiling has to be raised or we go into a government shut down, to occur sometime in April-May. These small cuts actually extends that timetable.
At that time, America will still be approximately $600 billion short in breaching the current debt ceiling, which will require another lifting of the debt ceiling, or a shutdown.Â Republicans, Tea Parties, conservatives are pretty split as to whether we should raise the Debt Ceiling once again, but the hard policy choices are these: In order to do so we have to get into entitlement spending, and begin cutting there as well as discretionary spending. But we do not yet have the political power (the White House and the Senate) to make such an undertaking, so questions as to whether we have the political will to do this is moot until we can first muster a sizeable enough fleet and army (Senate and White House) to make a final assault on the Democrat Homeland. Right now, all we can do is establish a beachhead.
If we can, the Republican Leadership Plan is that once we reach that day in April-May, having already swiped $30-$40 billion away from the budget, we will be inÂ a position to go along with a Debt Ceiling increase (which we can always take away in 2 years) in exchange for something really big (as in BIG) such as a Balanced Budget Amendment or an end to Obamacare.
This is the policy as I understand it. The politics behind this policy is that the Dems are split right now on a government shut-down, and are willing give up the budget in small $5 billion increments til the cows some home to keep putting that big vote off, for they don’t really want their names on the wrong side of a major budget vote, and having lost almost all their moral stars to guide their boats in these rough seas, they are not even sure which is the right side anymore.
Analysis: To be sure, the Leadership Plan can fail, but not due to evil intentions UNLESS embedded in the Plan, as it exists between the Leadership and the members, especially the 87 House Freshmen, is a lie….namely that there is a hidden agenda behind the Boehner & Co Plan that the House Freshmen are not being clued in on.
I need to explore the possibilities of this lie, for it is the controlling gambit here, not the money, but I first need to mention 2) the opposing Plan, sponsored more or less by Michelle Bachmann, Allen West, and her Tea Party Caucus, not to be confused with “the tea parties” back home or the many and varied national Tea Parties (who I call, sometimes without humor, the “corporate tea parties”).
Theit view is that they need to make a bigger splash, in part, in order to keep a promise to kick Dem butt and make lots of noise. To them the Leadership Plan is too tepid,Â raising in constituents’ minds a more-the-same fear that voters really wanted to be rid of in 2010. They believe that instead of hitting the beach along a 10 miles strip in various sectors, we bunch up and make a mass assault on one beach, all or nothing, and stake our claim to that beach, then try to hold it. We’ll overwhelm them, and after all, that’s why the people elected us. In order to do that they have to vote “No” to the Leadership Plan tonight.
This too is just a plan, a gambit, and again, like the Leadership Plan, arrived at with no evil intentions or private agendas that I can discern.
(About lies and private agendas, understand this: that while the American voters have a right to be cynical, and that cynicism to one degree or another is best expressed by the tea parties, on a purely man-to-man basis, I simply cannot bring myself to call a man a liar, or a thief, to his face or behind his back, until I have some proof of it. I don’t care what the previous occupant of that desk did or said. For when I do, I am putting myself in judgment, not him. That is one sin I have no intention of apologizing for. Every new member of Congress goes there with a blank slate in my book, just as, in the same vein tea party members and leaders, at every level deserve the understanding from me that they are in this war for their country, and not the pursuit of some personal political or power agenda…until proven otherwise.)
Analyzing this Tea Party plan, we already know it can only achieve a symbolic (should I say Pyrrhic victory?) in that the present-president and Senate will kill any major change they send over to him. All they will have established is a marker to build on in 2012, against, as I’ve already stated willÂ likely be a far more unified Democrat Party. Right now, under the Leadership Plan we are getting actual dollar cuts from the Democrats which we could never get with a straight up or down vote, and the present-president’s signature. What is more likely is that while the Leadership Plan is always going to get Dem support and Reid’s blessings, the Democrats may all come together, just as the Germans would have had we only landed at Omaha, leaving Utah, Sword, Gold and Juno beaches alone.
About the motives behind those two Plans just described.
I’m a big command and control guy. Ike wasn’t elected as Boehner was, but if you will recall, his best general wasn’t on those beaches in France either, and although Bedell Smith never said it straight up, I’m sure it was because Ike didn’t want this particular general standing up at every briefing with a better plan than had already been worked out with his staff. He already had Monty second-guessing everything he did all the way back to Marshall and FDR, so Ike couldn’t afford to have George Patton undermine him in front of his other commanders. So he kept him out of the loop.
Patton wasn’t after Ike’s job, either. He was just a genius who saw the battlefield a bit differently, shall we say, as the ancients might have seen it, and not as a Kansas farm boy might. History proves it was one of Ike’s wisest decisions.
John Boehner was elected to his post. In some respects he owes a higher duty to the people that elected him than Ike did. But in turn he is owed one unbreakable courtesy from them, namely, until proven otherwise, to be presumed to be dealing with the members straight up.
“Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice…but no, buster, that ain’t gonna happen twice, you’ll not get a second chance in this business.”
This should be House Freshman motto.
I have no knowledge of any prior dishonest dealings between Boehner and the Members, especially the Freshmen. Let me know if I’m wrong here. But the Freshmen have been briefed on the overall strategy. This I know, and they did grill Boehner pretty tough, and they came away satisfied that he was being honest about the Plan. The rightness or wrongness of the Plan, while still a concern to them, is and always will be subordinated in my mind that, if he’s the Leader, then let him lead…until he does one of a few things; lie, flim-flam, deceive or show cowardice in the face of the enemy, at which time you can turn your little tea Party Caucus or “Freshman Caucus” into a competing power cell instead of interest group.
If Boehner lies to them he’s finished. If he flim-flams them, he’s finished. And if he Bob Michel’s it with a continued course of inaction, a sitzkreig, signalling a fear to make the hard calls or confront the enemy, he’ s finished. And John Boehner knows it. His world is not the same as the world Nancy Pelosi lived in. His reality places a high stock in integrity.
But 60 days in, I don’t think he’s done that yet. And we’ll all know when (or if) he does.
The Republican House and the Tea Parties will have made a big, big mistake if, in going into this vote the Republicans are united and the Democrats split, but come away from it, and the Democrats are united and the Republicans are split.
For inasmuch as the Democrats are trying every way in the world to drive a wedge between the Republicans, this potential wedge seems to be home grown, and much of it coming from the corporate tea parties such as those who painted a target on the Freshmen’s backs even before they were sworn inÂ by posting their phone numbers.
How to proceed: Man Up, Man to Man
All I can suggest to the freshmen is you deal with your colleagues and your leaders in DC face to face, and leave the corporate Tea Parties and folks back home to us. That is a work in progress, but the scorecard I just laid out is the more important right now. You must stay united, and until shown otherwise, you do stand behind the guy elected to lead you.