Stop me if this sounds familiar: The usual mid-term pendulum swing & a first-term Democratic president with tepid approval ratings combine to sweep a wave of Republicans into Congress. The new Republicans convince themselves they have a mandate & attempt draconian budget cuts that lead to a government shutdown.
With Tea Party Republicans demanding massive cuts in everything from job training to clean energy to health care (while leaving billions in subsidies intact for their Big Oil donors), Ezra Klein today says 2011’s Republicans may be on the same ruinous path as 1995’s “revolutionaries”:
Boehner and his team came in determined to avoid the mistakes that Newt Gingrich made. They were going to be humble, they wouldn’t overread their mandate, they wouldn’t go for draconian cuts in services that weren’t defensible once they had to be explained. They lost. They’re going to need to propose three times as many cuts now. And this comes alongside a new Pew poll (pdf) showing that the only category of federal spending that a majority of Republicans support cutting is foreign aid. On everything from Social Security to education to crime prevention to scientific research, more spending is preferred.
This loss, much more than the failed votes on the extension of the PATRIOT Act or funds for the United Nations (both of which were brought to the floor under a rule requiring a 2/3rd majority for passage) shows that the House GOP leadership has little sway and less control over the rank-and-file. The Republican Study Committee seems more powerful than the Republican leadership at this point. The budget proposal produced by Rep. Jim Jordan won out over the one favored by Rep. Paul Ryan. If I were a betting man, I’d say the odds of a government shutdown — either over cuts or the debt ceiling — just went up dramatically.
Despite an initial pledge to focus on jobs, House Republicans have done literally nothing, instead launching an ideological war. Republicans haven’t learned from history – and it’s looking more & more like they’re committed to repeating it. Will we be talking about Barack Obama as the New Comeback Kid as he rides discontent with the Republican overreach to victory in 2012?