The House GOP doesn’t like Mitch McConnell’s plan, and they don’t like the president’s plan to raise taxes. So what’s their plan?
Congressman Jeb Hensarling is number four in the GOP House Caucus as Chairman of the Conference, and in an interview on yesterday’s program he dismissed the plan offered by Senator McConnell:
HH: Let me ask you about, speaking of McConnell, the McConnell plan. What do you make of what the GOP Senate leader laid on the table as a possible Plan B yesterday?
JH: Oh, well, I’ve known Senator McConnell for quite some time. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. But I’m not really sure. That struck me as like Plan 52, when we’re still looking at Plans 1, 2 and 3. So let’s just say it hasn’t exactly captured my imagination.
Speaker John Boehner and GOP Leader Eric Cantor are thus taking their caucus into direct confrontation with the president without a plan of their own and now they can’t easily blink, nor can the president after yesterday’s meeting where the president childishly stormed out after making the sort of schoolyard boast that doesn’t have a parallel in presidential history.
Cantor is now the target for the Democrat’s smear machine, and while he could do a great job of explaining the situation and the GOP’s preferred course once it adopts such a course, he has chosen to be almost invisible throughout the process, making even fewer public statements that the Speaker who himself has decided the base is best not communicated with often in the middle of an important stand-off with the president.
The GOP message remains completely fractured. Yesterday’s presidential blow-up was in response to an offer from Cantor for a short term debt ceiling deal and not a specific package of cuts. Indeed, there is no specific package of cuts because the president hasn’t offer any and the Biden-talks led to a grand total of $2 billion is discretionary spending cuts next year. The GOP has managed to allow the Democrats to convey an image of bold-embracers of austerity when in fact they haven’t proposed anything remotely like that. Which is why the entire GOP Caucus needs to adopt and announce a policy and then wait out the president. The pattern of going to daily meetings where the president can both play the wounded party and also leak the narrative he prefers regardless of the reality of the situation is terrible policy and worse politics.
“We will raise the debt limit a dollar for every dollar in non-defense cuts the president sends us.”
That should be the message, and the GOP will need to adopt it and stick by it as the clock ticks down or they might as well fold their tent now. They need to get the MSM to start asking what the president is willing to cut to raise the debt limit and what taxes he wants to raise to increase the debt limit. Running back and forth to the White House to get slapped around again by a president who is employing the Alinskyite tactics that have defined his entire career doesn’t make any sense.
There is plenty of time to identify the president as the tantrum-throwing ideologue who is willing to risk thousand point drops in the markets just to soak the rich but unwilling to find any real cuts in a “budget” that is a 1,500 billion in the red this year and every year for the foreseeable future.
But even easy messages have to be adopted and practiced, and they have to be spoken clearly and frequently.