While we are busy obsessing about the Donald and Hillary, the Congress is supposed to be governing in the background. They aren’t.
After Paul Ryan (R-WI) replaced John Boehner as House Speaker, the idea was that Republicans would have more of a united front. And specifically, when it came to Ryan’s specialty, the federal budget, the idea was that Republicans would have an “ah-ha” moment, craft a budget, and then put pressure on Obama to go along.
But the change in leadership changed nothing for those divided House Republicans. Despite months of budget negotiations, the House Freedom Caucus, the 40 Republicans that ousted Boehner as Speaker, have now rejected Paul Ryan’s budget, probably leaving the Republicans with no budget to pass this year. More from HuffPo: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)
The budget, a non-binding resolution laying out spending priorities for the next 10 years, is little more than a press release, except in one key area: It sets the spending limits for the next fiscal year. And without those individual allocations, there’s little point in Republicans trying to go through appropriations process.
If there is no budget, there won’t be appropriations bills. A return to the regular legislative process for appropriations was a key tenet of Ryan’s program for the Speakership. Republicans overwhelmingly support the process of sending up individual spending bills so that they can add policy riders to legislation, putting the squeeze on Mr. Obama to choose between funding parts of the government, or keeping the Democrat’s social policies intact.
Dave Dayden said in the Fiscal Times:
The Freedom Caucus essentially wants to control government from a base of 40 members of the House, with only a few allies in the Senate and no president willing to agree to their demands. They want to…balance the budget through massive spending cuts, dismantle government healthcare programs, and overturn every executive order of the past eight years…
For months, Ryan has attempted to broker a deal on a budget resolution, which sets topline numbers for the appropriations committees to use to fund government operations. A bipartisan deal with the White House had set those numbers in stone, at $1.07 trillion for the next fiscal year. But the Freedom Caucus wants to cut that by $30 billion, back to the level mandated by Sequestration, the automatic spending cuts implemented in 2011.
Nevertheless, the Freedom Caucus formally opposed the deal, unable to stomach the nominal $30 billion spending increase (all of which was offset by cuts elsewhere). While Ryan had offered them votes on individual elements on the budget, members dismissed the additional votes as meaningless, because the Senate was unlikely to take them up.
Because Democrats don’t usually agree to budget resolutions from the other side, losing a 40-member bloc is enough to ensure that Ryan’s budget won’t have enough votes. That means it’s likely the government will be funded with a Continuing Resolution (CR) at current levels for the near future. And Democrats will have to supply most of the votes for the CR to pass.
And the lack of a budget is just a sidelight to the continuing irreconcilable differences between GOP factions. The GOP cannot fix this. Only a purge of one side of the Party, or the other, will do it.
If Paul Ryan cannot mediate this intra-party dispute, who can? Is Trump believable as a mediator?
If they can’t agree on something as simple as a topline budget number, what can they agree on?
The Trump phenomenon may succeed, or it may not. But the Freedom Caucus phenomenon seems far more consequential to the GOP and the country than Trump. And it’s hard to figure out how Republicans will get to where they are trying to go with the Tea Party or with Trump.
So, here’s a Wake Up Call for the GOP: Your “Big Tent” strategy with the Tea Party has failed. You gotta split up with the Teahadists and return to your roots, the roots that allowed you to govern back in the day. Then you can begin working to take back the seats you have lost to the Freedom Caucus.
To help the GOP wake up, here is a song by Girlyman, a group that broke up in 2013 at the height of their powers. Girlyman called their musical style “harmony-driven gender pop.” They had a strong following in the gay community. Here is “Joyful Sign” recorded in NYC at City Winery on April 16, 2011. And, its a break up song:
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.