House Republicans will soon have what they they so desire: power. But with that power comes responsibilities, and it’s hard to feel any optimism about whether this current crop of GOP leaders is prepared to take their duties seriously.
For one thing, it’s far from clear whether the incoming Republican House majority has any idea what it plans to do. Mark Schmitt today in the American Prospect noted:
There have been three major Republican/conservative takeover elections in recent history: 1980, when Ronald Reagan carried 12 seats and control of the Senate; 1994, when Newt Gingrich’s Republicans took both houses; and 2010. The first, while in many ways a reaction to the incompetent presidency of Jimmy Carter (a conservative Democrat whose flaws came to symbolize liberalism) unquestionably carried a mandate for conservatism. The second, 1994, was in many ways a reaction to congressional corruption, combined with a long-postponed rejection of Southern Democrats, but Gingrich and his allies took it very seriously— perhaps too seriously—as an ideological mandate.
This year, though, right-wingers barely even pretended to have a comparable program-cutting agenda. Their main talking point about health reform was that it would cut Medicare benefits. They railed about TARP and the auto bailout, but the former originated in the Bush administration, and they will not attempt to repeal it. They talked about creating jobs by reducing the deficit, which is economic nonsense. Moreover, not one of the policy plans the Republicans produced would reduce the deficit by a penny. Tea Partiers ranted about constitutional and economic schemes that they probably won’t even introduce, much less pass.
I’ve been following politics for quite a while, and I honestly haven’t the foggiest idea what kind of agenda the GOP intends to pursue. They’re against spending, but no one knows what they’d cut. They’re against health care reform, but it’s not clear what they can do about it. They do realize they don’t have the vote to overturn an Obama veto don’t they?
They’re for a government shutdown, but I’m sure why or what it would accomplish. They’re toying with letting the country slip into default by not raising the debt ceiling, but the motivations for that are even less clear. They’re no doubt looking forward to some partisan witch hunts, hearing after Congressional hearing, which are already tiresome before they even start.
The Republicans have proven themselves wholly unprepared to govern time and time again, but have been rewarded with power anyway. It’s, well very frustrating.