As the clock ticks down on the automatic spending cuts that will kick in on March 1, tempers in Congress are flaring and cracks in the Republican Party blame-game veneer are becoming more apparent.
On Tuesday, House Speaker John Boehner—who has been front and center on impugning the president for the problem by telling President Barack Obama he already got his tax cut and he won’t get anymore—made this statement to reporters after a closed-door meeting:
"We have moved a bill in the House twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something."
But critics say that misleading the public is something that will come back to haunt Republicans in coming elections, because the fact is that Senate Democrats have offered spending-cut bills, including one last week with $110 billion in deficit reduction, but it wasn’t palatable to the Republican-controlled House because it contained $55 billion in new tax revenues by cutting loopholes and adding a tax on millionaires modeled after the Buffett Rule.
Republicans have quickly forgotten that Obama’s so-called tax cut was, in reality, an agreement not to extend the Bush tax cuts any further for people making more than $250,000 per year.
For weeks, Republicans have done nothing but hold their line in the sand on blaming Democrats and the president for not being willing, in their view, to come up will a bill to their liking. Grand Old Party members have even floated the idea that deep cuts in government spending won’t be a bad thing for national security, dismissing warnings of defense cuts that could make the country more vulnerability to terrorism as nothing but “scare tactics.”
GOP lawmakers say they have no concerns about repercussions if $85 billion in automatic cuts goes through, because they view it as the best way to reduce government spending, even if jobs and the lives of real people are negatively impacted while Republicans sit in their bubble on Capitol Hill.
The party is getting plenty of support in their obstinate position from special interest groups like the Heritage Foundation.
“If (Republicans) don't shy away from this, if they don't run from their own shadows and they don't buckle at the last minute, I think it's a battle they can win,” conservative Heritage Action spokesman Dan Holler was quoted as saying in The Hill.
For weeks the president has been taking his message on the road to the American people that spending cuts without the balance of additional revenue would be bad for the country, and Republicans don’t like what he has to say or that his poll numbers continue to rise as the battle wages. They have tried to use it against him by saying he should “stop campaigning” and go back to D.C. and work with them.
Always good at labels, Republicans are now calling Obama the “road show president.” But he also met with governors at the White House on Monday, as they convened at their annual meeting.
Republicans may be shrugging off the devastating impacts spending cuts will have on the country, but the obnoxious implication by Boehner that Senate members are doing nothing but sitting on their asses does reveal a sign that House Republicans may be sweating bullets in those closed-door meetings.
Jean Williams, environmental and political journalist; PrairieDogPress writer; Artistic Director, Keystone Prairie Dogs.***PrairieDogPress is the media channel for keystone-prairie-dogs.com, which is a fundraising website to support environmental groups for extraordinary efforts to protect Great Plains habitat and prairie dogs in the wild. PDP uses humorous images, social commentary and serious-minded political reports to challenge government on numerous levels, including accountability to the people, the protection of threatened species, the environment and Earth’s natural resources.