2010 was the year that the Republican Party took back control of the House, because unfortunately, the electorate has a short-term memory problem. The message they thought they were sending to Washington is not the message that the Republicans heard, and in the first few days of the new Congress, they’re showing that no, things haven’t really changed with them. Which isn’t terribly surprising. If there ever was a political party that lived by the motto “Do as I say, not as I do” it’s the Republicans.
Theoretically, they’re “small government, fiscally conservative.” They say they want a balanced budget, low taxes, and the smallest possible government. That’s what they tell us. Constantly. All the while deriding the other party as a wildly-spending high tax and big government group. You can’t turn on a news channel without seeing them pounding a podium about it. Everyone gets it. The problem? They never do it, even when they’ve controlled Congress and the White House.
If you look at which party has most increased the deficit in the past 30 years, it was Republican administrations. Added a major new bureaucracy and increased the size of the government? Republicans. Obviously the Republicans in the Senate and the House stood up to the administrations, right? No, they just voted it right on in, and added a few earmarks and programs on their own while they were at it. Well, then, the “base” groups stood up and organized massive protests against it and went after them in a primary, right? Nope, not a peep. What they did do was to remove a lot of the safeguards and rules, to “help” businesses, and reduce taxes. All of which led to a massive boom, right? Nope, didn’t do that. Turned out that the financial institutions and companies simply decided to make a buck quick, screw the ethics, and shift as much as they could somewhere else where the labor could be abused and low paid.
Then end result was a ballooning federal debt, and the financial system crashed. Voters took note, and voted the Republicans out of power. The Republicans spent the past two years telling everyone that they were going to “create jobs” and “help” by cutting “runaway government spending” and bemoaning the ballooning federal debt. Rather than remembering who had cheerfully stepped on the gas to when it came to runaway government spending and increasing the debt, the voters decided that the Democrats hadn’t done things fast enough, so they gave the Republicans control of the House.
Now the Republicans have to actually help govern. As in, put their plans into actual legislation and being specific. Which is where they’ve hit a wall. You see, it’s one thing to say you’re going to cut government spending when you’re campaigning, it’s another to say what you’re going to cut and by how much. It’s the details that people who have actual governing responsibility are supposed to come up with, and a number of us on the liberal side noted that they weren’t doing. An “alternative budget” turned out to be a couple of pages of generalities. All those details, they promised, would be forthcoming once they took back control of Congress.
Which it turns out they can’t do. Now that they’re faced with trying to do it, they’re drawng a blank. Instead of spending the last two years identifying specific examples – and dollar amounts – of what they want to cut, they just pulled a round figure out of thin air, and were using that. Now they’re trying to shift the responsibility to the Administration, except that well, they don’t like the cuts the Administration has already proposed, except they don’t have alternatives.
For the past two years, the Republican Party has been posturing. They’re real good at it. The problem is that now they have to show the voters that they actually did have concrete plans, and it’s turning out that they’re all hat and no cowboy. It’s likely to be a real short stay in power, because they can no longer rely strictly on rhetoric, and from the looks of things, that’s all they have.