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“”Wow, I’m kind of stunned, I’m thinking Sputnik.”

Tuesday, December 7, 2010  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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A New York Times article on Chinese secondary school test results that quotes Checker Finn is hardly the obvious way to begin a post about “the deal,” but stay with me.

My email box if overflowing with messages, mostly outraged but some supportive, of the GOP’s acquiescence to a deal that includes massive spending of dollars we don’t have as well as a huge and apparently new benchmark on the immoral death tax in exchange for a two-year extension of the Bush tax rates. Two emails, one from an American businessman living in England and one from a teacher in California:

While I don’t disagree with your analysis that the GOP played its hand poorly, I was more upset with the 2% reduction on payroll taxes for one year that was part of the deal.
– One year deals simply do not work. A moratorium on Capital Gains and Dividend income might have a short term blip effect, but this will have the same effect as the first Bush relief effort – zero positive impact.
– Revenues are taken from precisely the funds that we can not afford to deplete until they are reformed.
Other than positive impact on political grandstanding the true impact of this “tax cut” (it is a postponement not a true cut) will be all negative. Not one person will be hired as a result and we add debt at a time we are effectively approaching broke status.

Then this one:

I predicted that all this would happen. The words I used essentially were these: Obama will over-reach far to the left and when he does, people will run back to the Republicans. They, however, won’t have earned the votes, won’t really deserve them, and they will begin the process of saying the country voted for “compromise.” My worst fears are confirmed with the deal that was struck on extending the Bush tax cuts. This is absurd.

I’m done. I’ve had enough of the capitulation, the political gamesmanship and the do-nothing except strike corrupt deals GOP. I’d been considering registering as an Independent or Libertarian for some time. That decision just became very easy. And very clear. I gave only a small amount of money to the Republicans. I’m not a big donor. But they’ll get nothing from me now.

The GOP doesn’t deserve my support and the country doesn’t deserve to be treated like this a month after it overwhelmingly voted for low taxes, less spending and smaller government.

I’m not just dispirited, I’m disgusted.

The GOP did a backroom deal with the president. The Beltway Republicans, including anti-tax luminaries like Grover Norquist, are happy and assuring us that all will be well. Business professionals are scratching their heads and the rank-and-file who powered the campaign and contributed from tight accounts are stunned that there is a huge spurt of spending in the mix along with a capitulation on the death tax, all for only a two year extension?

So why begin with a story about test scores?

The country is at a crossroads. It has to get serious –very serious– about the important issues. It cannot keep spending as it does. It cannot keep pretending that its schools are working. It cannot keep drawing down the military and not replenishing it. It cannot keep taxes high on capital as capital will simply move. It cannot allow Obamacare to continue to spread its malignancy through the health care system in the country.

The center-right cannot postpone the fight with the left on these basic issues.

The GOP wave was powered by this recognition across a wide swath of the country that we are way off the tracks. Yet the very first thing the GOP leadership does is a backroom deal without anything in the way of a public argument about what they are about and why they are “compromising” on so many crucial terms. This “deal” leads to the conclusion that nothing has changed inside the Beltway. That the new committee chairs in the House will be variations on a familiar tune, and that the Congress will postpone any serious budget work until the fall and then will deliver a series of fake half measures.

The GOP skipped out on the first fight, like a boxing match in which both sides agreed to split the purse rather than exchange blows. I hope I am wrong and this was a purely tactical lay down, one that will be exposed as such when the calendar turns and an energized GOP majority in the House presses the debate on every key issue from the first day and never lets up, but every instinct in the D.C. GOP –every behavior learned over the past 40 years– kicked in yesterday.

We are losing the global competition on many fronts, and even after the American people fairly shout at the top of their lungs “Stop,” the party carrying that mandate says to the defeated party, “Come let us reason together and trim and tweak.”

The sky is full of Sputniks, to borrow Finn’s analogy, but in D.C. there is no urgency within the party that proposed to safeguard the urgency widely felt among the voters and acted on through the polls.

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