Balanced Budget Amendment, Debt Ceiling Deal, Federal Budget, Federal Default, Federal Spending, Hobbits, John Boehner, John McCain, Tea Party Hobbits, Teaparty Protests
“Tea party Republicans may be a noisy and effective protest movement, but theyâ€™re unfit to govern,â€ Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said at a news conference on Friday.
Speaker John Boehner’s task in working out a deal with Barack Obama and the democrat leadership of the Senate to avert a default crisis was made more difficult by 22 fiscally-irredentist Tea Party Republicans who refused to support his compromise solution.
John McCain made headlines by labeling the conservative extremists as “hobbits.”
I think “the hobbits” were wrong tactically and philosophically on insisting on trying to pass a balanced budget amendment. The democrats could never accept a balanced budget amendment. Their base and constituencies would never tolerate it. But, even more importantly, a balanced budget amendment is an unworkable idea which is constitutionally highly problematic.
Publius Huldah is quite right: a balanced budget amendment would strike directly at the concept of enumerated powers and it would effectively transfer decision-making authority from Congress to the courts.
The hobbits were wrong about the balanced budget amendment, but I think their hearts were in the right place and I still think they served a highly useful purpose in holding the GOP leaderships’ feet to the fire and restricting their ability to compromise too far elsewhere.
Mr. Boehner was enabled by their existence to go to Barack Obama and Harry Reid and say, “You know, guys, I’d like to compromise further and let you throw in some class-warfare taxes on the rich, but those crazy hobbits are fierce and fanatical. They’d never put up with any tax increases at all. I’d like to settle for more modest spending reductions, but Bandobras “Bullroarer” Took (R-VA) is insisting on blood.” It’s useful in negotiations to have a “Mr. Jones” you have to answer to, who is completely unreasonable and who is making maximalist demands.
Marc A. Thiessen contends that, in the end, in fact, the Tea Party hobbits did win.
The reported debt-limit deal appears to be a victory for the Tea Party. It includes around $1 trillion in spending cuts and creates a special committee of Congress to recommend cuts of $1.2 trillion more. If Congress does not approve those additional cuts by yearâ€™s end, automatic spending cuts go into effect. The package sets an important new precedent that debt-limit increases must be â€œpaid forâ€ with commensurate cuts in spending. According to Sen. Rob Portman, a former White House budget director, if we cut a dollar of spending for every dollar we raise the debt limit, we will balance the budget in 10 years â€” something that even the Paul Ryan budget would not achieve. And all this is accomplished with no tax increases. …
The Tea Party is also winning the battle of ideas. Last week, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod crowed that the debt-limit battle was shaping up as a â€œdefinitional fightâ€ in which voters would see Obama as defending the reasonable center against Republicans who are â€œpandering to the extremes.â€ Well, if Axelrod is so confident that Obama is winning this â€œdefinitional fight,â€ why was the White House so adamant about ducking a second round next year? The president said that â€œthe only bottom line that I have is that we extend this debt ceiling through the next election.â€ If he were winning the argument, he would have been eager to have this fight again just before the next election.
And Glenn Reynolds notes complacently: Well, you know the hobbits won in the original story too.
The fact that the Conservative Movement is large and diverse enough to have its own more extreme fringe is really a positive sign. Political coalitions large enough to win are never tidy, compact, perfectly ideologically pure, all neat and discreet. A successful political movement inevitably even attracts people you would just as soon not have on your own side along with all the opportunists who can tell which way the wind is blowing.