Just Because I Need to Say it

A budget deadline is not the appropriate place to try and leverage major legislative change.  Further, playing with people’s jobs and the health of the economy (even if for a brief period of time) is not the actions of a party that takes governing seriously.  There has to be a point wherein the Republicans recognize that they do not have the ability to derail the PPACA and try, instead, to work for actual policy outcomes, even if they are incremental, rather than creating one artificial crisis after another.

As Senator Coburn (R-OK) noted the other day:  “To create the impression that we can actually defund Obamacare, when the only thing we control, and barely, is the House of Representatives, is not intellectually honest.”

I perfectly understand that the GOP’s only real tool is to create these crises and try to use them as blackmail tools, and I will even go so far as to say that they are playing the within the rules of the game.  However, it is hard to see all this as ultimately anything other than the politics of nihilism.

Still, I suppose that for many of the individual members of the House, who see this behavior as a way to win re-nomination and thereby to win re-election, this is all rational politics.  Too bad they don’t to actually legislate whilst in the legislature.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Ernieyeball says:

    A budget deadline is not the appropriate place to try and leverage major legislative change. Further, playing with people’s jobs and the health of the economy (even if for a brief period of time) is not the actions of a party that takes governing seriously.

    You should be required reading for successful candidates of Congressional elections before they take the Oath of Office.

  2. Matt Bernius says:

    Still, I suppose that for many of the individual members of the House, who see this behavior as a way to win re-nomination and thereby to win re-election, this is all rational politics. Too bad they don’t to actually legislate whilst in the legislature.

    This get’s to the most dangerous, though arguably rational result, of gerrymandering. If anyone needed an abject lesson (and this includes the Democrats) in why election reform is so necessary, this incident (not to mention the default on our national debt that is almost certain to happen for exactly the same reasons) is it.

    House Republicans, rationally acting in their own interests, have more or less doomed the chances for Republicans to take the Senate next year. And if they are as nihilistic as some believe, this may even hurt their presidential aspirations in 2016.

  3. Kk says:

    I think everyone here cheered as the Senate rushed through Obamacare before Scott Brown who was elected to Ted Kennedy’s seat could be sworn in to stop it. Passed in the dead of night so we could see what’s in it. And now you take issue with radical Congressional procedures? Hypocrites!

  4. David M says:

    @Kk:

    Didn’t happen that way. The bill passed the Senate before Brown was elected.

  5. James Pearce says:

    @David M:

    The bill passed the Senate before Brown was elected.

    Doesn’t matter. Kk’s comment hints at the real reason for the shutdown:

    Payback.

  6. David in KC says:

    @James Pearce: I’d go with perceived payback. That is if you kind of tilt your head sideways and selectively ignore history.

  7. LaMont says:

    @Kk:

    It’s people just like you that empowers this kind of foolishness!

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Dr. Joyner, where was your disdain when the Democrats decided that passing a budget would be a political liability to them, so they simply stopped passing them? When Obama took upon himself the power to postpone duly-legislated mandates in ObamaCare without bothering to get the actual law changed?

  9. @Matt Bernius:

    This get’s to the most dangerous, though arguably rational result, of gerrymandering. If anyone needed an abject lesson (and this includes the Democrats) in why election reform is so necessary, this incident (not to mention the default on our national debt that is almost certain to happen for exactly the same reasons) is it.

    And not just gerrymandering–but the logical outgrowth of single member districts in general due to spatial distribution of voters and the relationship between partisan affiliation (and policy preferences) due to population density.

  10. @Kk:

    I think everyone here cheered as the Senate rushed through Obamacare before Scott Brown who was elected to Ted Kennedy’s seat could be sworn in to stop it. Passed in the dead of night so we could see what’s in it. And now you take issue with radical Congressional procedures? Hypocrites!

    Just to second the above: that is not the way it happened and you need to review your history.

    What the death of Kennedy and election of Brown did was make it impossible to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill, meaning the House had to either pass the Senate version or pass nothing.

    And why was that?

    Because with a mere 59 seats, the Democrats lost control of the of the Senate because it operates under minority rules. In other words, the election of Brown gave the Republicans blackmail power to veto any changes to the bill. Sound familiar?

  11. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Dr. Joyner, where was your disdain when the Democrats decided that passing a budget would be a political liability to them, so they simply stopped passing them? When Obama took upon himself the power to postpone duly-legislated mandates in ObamaCare without bothering to get the actual law changed?

    First, I have written, more than once, about the fact that Congress needs to take its responsibilities seriously and fulfill its obligations on the budget.

    Second, to pretend like this has been the fault of one party is to engage in selective memory (and to ignore fairly long-term trend that reaches back before the Obama administration).

  12. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Second, to pretend like this has been the fault of one party is to engage in selective memory (and to ignore fairly long-term trend that reaches back before the Obama administration).

    Agreed.

    Which raises the question of why your articles consistently blame the Republicans, and give the Democrats a pass.

    I’m not disputing that the GOP owns part of the blame. But you and others have that angle sufficiently covered; I don’t feel the need to repeat it. But in the interest of reminding people that this isn’t “the fault of one party” and one party alone, someone has to mention the Democrats’ role. Since you and your fellow authors aren’t doing so, I figured I would.

  13. @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m not disputing that the GOP owns part of the blame. But you and others have that angle sufficiently covered; I don’t feel the need to repeat it. But in the interest of reminding people that this isn’t “the fault of one party” and one party alone, someone has to mention the Democrats’ role. Since you and your fellow authors aren’t doing so, I figured I would.

    You are conflating several issues into one.

    I agree that, broadly speaking, the Congress as an institution has failed to do its job in regards t the budget process over a series of years.

    However, at the moment, the Republican Party’s current strategy is one of faux crises in which it leverages deadlines to attempt to blackmail the country. This has happened on an ongoing basis over the last several years. That stratagem belongs solely to the GOP.

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Then I presume you wouldn’t object to bringing up other points, such as the Senate’s refusal to even consider negotiations with the House, and not even bothering to be in session over the weekend to possibly hammer out a last-minute deal?

    I also find your use of the term “blackmail” interesting. One could just as well argue that the Senate engaged in its own “blackmail” — telling the House “send us a bill that meets our demands, or we will do nothing and let things come screeching to a halt.”

    The two Houses are, generally, equals; an impasse like this is only possible if both Houses remain intransigent. To paraphrase an old saw, it takes two to tangle.

  15. @Jenos Idanian #13: I don’t think that this is the moment or the mechanism to engage in major negotiations over major legislation.

    The blackmail here is quite clearly on behalf of the Republicans because they are the ones making specific demands. The Democrats want a CR to continue operating the government. The Republicans want a CR that makes alterations to the PPACA.

    It really isn’t that difficult to see where the blackmail is coming from–especially since it is clear from the beginning that the GOP has sought the create this crisis.

    The notion that major legislative changes should be made at the moment of manufactured crises is irresponsible and has long-term consequences.

  16. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: The Democrats’ demand is for yet another postponement of actually doing the job of Congress — passing a budget, paying bills, and whatnot. And they have declared that they will not negotiate on continuing to kick the can down the road, as they see passing a budget as a political liability. And they want to keep on spending more and more borrowed money, shackling future generations with more and more debt.

    As Professor Reynolds oft says, “Something that can’t go on forever, won’t. Debts that can’t be repaid, won’t be. Promises that can’t be kept, won’t be.”

  17. Barry says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Dr. Joyner, where was your disdain when the Democrats decided that passing a budget would be a political liability to them, so they simply stopped passing them? ”

    And the GOP had nooooooooooooooooooothink! to do with that, eh, Sgt Schultz?

  18. @Jenos Idanian #13: There is a substantial difference between a demand for a continuation of the status quo and a demand to use a specific deadline to affect significant legislative changes.

    I know you can understand this difference. If you choose to ignore it, so be it.

    Also: the demands by the GOP in this situation is not going to fix the debt, or the general fiscal situation. Again, this is pretty obvious if you look at the actual facts.

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Barry: The Democrats controlled both Houses when they stopped passing budgets. Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker when they decided to simply not pass any budgets any more.

    Once the Republicans took back the House, they started passing budgets that promptly died in the Democratically-controlled Senate.

  20. @Jenos Idanian #13: Even if we stipulate to your version of events, that doesn’t justify the current situation.

  21. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Senate Democrats have requested conference committee negotiations 18 times over the past 6 months so the budget issues could be worked out calmly and outside the context of manufactured crises designed by Republicans. The House Republicans refused every time, because they have no interest in negotiation or legislation through consensus. They prefer to manufacture crises so they can extort what they want with a gun to the country’s head.

    In short, you are a liar in the service of terrorist extortionists masquerading as a political party.

  22. al-Ameda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I’m not disputing that the GOP owns part of the blame. But you and others have that angle sufficiently covered; I don’t feel the need to repeat it. But in the interest of reminding people that this isn’t “the fault of one party” and one party alone, someone has to mention the Democrats’ role. Since you and your fellow authors aren’t doing so, I figured I would.

    Oh god, “both sides do it” …. again? If one side does something 95 times, and the other side does it 5 times, it is literally true that “both sides do it,” however, it is a meaningless assessment, it is empty calories.

    Republicans are definitely to blame for this shutdown, and it appears that the GOP is going to again leverage the Debt Ceiling Limit into another downgrade in the rating of American debt securities, and if that occurs it will rightfully be laid at the feet of irresponsible House Republican legislators. “Both sides do it” just does not accurately describe the disgraceful behavior of Republicans in this shutdown episode.

  23. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The Democrats’ demand is for yet another postponement of actually doing the job of Congress — passing a budget, paying bills, and whatnot. And they have declared that they will not negotiate on continuing to kick the can down the road, as they see passing a budget as a political liability. And they want to keep on spending more and more borrowed money, shackling future generations with more and more debt.

    Remind me again, which part of Congressional procedure actually funds the government – the establishment of a budget, or the appropriations process?

  24. Barry says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “The Democrats controlled both Houses when they stopped passing budgets. Nancy Pelosi was the Speaker when they decided to simply not pass any budgets any more.”

    Got proof?

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: In short, you are a liar in the service of terrorist extortionists masquerading as a political party.

    The government hunts down and imprisons terrorists. It even kills them, occasionally without benefit of trial or even indictment.

    You wanna get that sand out of your panties, cockroach, and tone it back to somewhere less than panty-wetting hysterical?

  26. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Barry: Yeah, I got proof. It’s called “recent history,” you flamingly stupid moron.

    The last budget passed was in 2009.

    Pelosi was Speaker from 2007 to 2011.

    Ergo, the House stopped passing budgets under her watch. QED.

  27. David M says:

    @Barry:

    Jenos is just trolling as usual. He knows the budget he’s pretending to care about is meaningless, he is only interested in talking up the GOP and insulting Democrats. Nothing he says is useful or relevant to the discussion. It’s fairly pathetic.

  28. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @David M: So… I’m right about the budget, but it’s no big deal? I’m right on the facts, but it’s something that doesn’t matter?

    If it wasn’t important, why did we bother passing budgets for a couple of centuries? Just what changed in 2009?

    Oh, yeah, the Democrats realized that passing a budget with a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president would mean that they owned the whole thing, and would have to take the heat for it. So… no budget, no heat.

  29. David M says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I wouldn’t say “right”, more like irrelevant. No one cares about your fake issue, it’s not remotely related to our current topic.