House Rules Chairman David Dreier defended the necessity of the three week CR on yesterday’s program, but it was clear to me and the audience that Chairman Dreier and the rest of the GOP Leadership know that the House GOP has now reached a turning point. They will win this vote, but they dare not bring back any more stop-gaps, which means either a shutdown or a surrender in April.
The GOP base and the Tea Party activists have five “must-haves”: a big bite out of current spending, the defunding of Planned Parenthood and CPB, and the bar on regulation writing for Obamacare and the EPA’s carbon rules. Speaker Boehner could give up $5 billion or even $10 billion in the effort to get to closure and the big budget, but he cannot walk away from the policy priorities which took the place of serious spending cuts. The failure to get this minimum amount of mandate will greatly impact the credibility of the House GOP.
If they cannot stand and fight here, where exactly are they going to do so? And whatever message they are trying to communicate isn’t getting through, a casualty of a failed communication strategy that has relied primarily on Beltway MSM in no hurry to frame the debate on the GOP turf.
Fred Barnes wrote in the new Weekly Standard about the growing strength of the Republican Study Committee, now 177 strong –a caucus within a caucus. If the House GOP leaders retreat, expect the challenge to their “roadmap” to come from the RSC.
The stopgap measure looks as though it is full of gimmicks to get to the alleged $6 billion in cuts. “The $6 billion in new cuts include hundreds of millions of dollars in old accounts from the Interior and Agriculture departments,” reports the Washington Post. “In addition, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which oversees funding for embattled National Public Radio, would lose $50 million from a ‘stabilization fund.'”
After a massive scandal the best the House GOP can do is nick NPR for $50 million? That’s it? And where are the details on the $6 billion? Does even one federal employee have to take one furlough day as a result? Or are these cuts the sort of accounting tricks that led California to its box canyon of neo-bankruptcy. $50 million from NPR, after the week it had? This is what what creates the deep sense of inevitable collapse of Republican resolve. There isn’t any sense of a willingness to fight or the skills set to do so.
The Beltway sharpies around the leadership are advising them into the forfeit of their mandate, even with the examples of Christie, Walker, Kasich and Scott right in front of them, standing for the proposition that the country is sick with worry about the deficit and prepared to support real cuts, now, on the debt ceiling and on the budget.
But every delay is another march away from the mandate, another opportunity for the narrative to change. The strategy adopted so far has maximized the power of the old timers and greatly increased the vulnerability of the freshmen GOP who promised so much and have delivered so little.