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“Show Us The Cuts”

Wednesday, March 30, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The lead editorial in today’s Washington Examiner should be emailed around the House GOP Caucus.

Chuck Schumer’s pratfall yesterday removes any reason for the House GOP to worry about the debate ahead. The Democrats never intended to cut anything and always intended to use the showdown leading to a shutdown to score political points. It wasn’t going to work before Schumer’s blunder and it will never work now that the public knows he and his Democratic colleagues right up to the president are working from a script.

But as the Examiner points out and as I argue below, the House GOP needs to get into the game and make its arguments with specificity and repeatedly. The dwindling group of old guard appropriators who are using the (distorted) memories of 1995 to protect spending have to be pushed aside and the freshmen especially have to spell out the conditions under which they will support the Leadership. Those conditions ought to be the $61 billion plus the defunding of Planned Parenthood and CPB as well as riders blocking new Obamacare regs and the EPA’s carbon regs.

Michael Barone asks today if “the wind gone out of the sails of the smaller-government movement?”

“Is the Tea Party movement going through a hangover?” he continues.

Barone runs through the evidence both pro and con, and then reminds readers of the most successful political figure in America today, oddly enough a New Jersey governor: “Gov. Chris Christie has won majority support in his struggles with public employee unions by making his case repeatedly, with facts and figures, and with a forcefulness that has made his town hall appearances a YouTube hit.”

Key words: “Repeatedly.” “Facts and figures.” “Forcefully.” “You Tube.”

Christie’s recipe is out in public, but has only been partially followed by governors Walker and Kasich and hardly at all by the House Leadership, which seems more likely to be found in a Network green room than in the townhall setting where Christie has displayed the confidence and combativeness that has made him so popular with middle America.

The Tea Party hasn’t gone away, but it is not going to throw in with the GOP just because it is easily the lesser of two evils when it comes to cutting government.

Conservative activists aren’t going to applaud Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor unless and until they fight the good fight and do so visibly and with sustained passion that demonstrates they share the passion and purpose of the grassroots.

The next few weeks will make and break a lot of reputations. Some in the GOP don’t want to fight on this ground at this time, and argue bigger battles are ahead on the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget.

But Schumer’s rare moment of candor made a good time to engage into the perfect moment to do so. If the GOP doesn’t press its advantage now, it is hard to imagine them ever doing so.

Stories like this one in today’s Washington Post look like plants from desperate GOP appropriators or House Democrats looking for a path back to relevance. Such a deal would shatter the House Caucus, possibly beyond repair, and could even lead to an attempt by freshmen to recall their leadership votes. I am skeptical that the House leadership is even considering such an option, but the Beltway kept press will be turning these out for the next few days as the spending machine fights with every weapon it can find, including a compliant MSM, to save business-as-usual.

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