Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Games For The Insane

There's a difference between stupid and crazy, though we're not sure everyone is aware of it.

We'll agree with Washington Monthly's Ed Kilgore and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia that what the GOP leadership in Congress is doing right now certainly merits that "stupid" label. It's clear to anyone not deluding themselves that if the massive Federal budget cuts scheduled for Friday do go through, Republicans in Congress will get the blame.

That shouldn't surprise anyone, as the Republican message about where they stand on the cuts has been as muddled and messy as it would be if all GOP leaders were staggering drunks.

We know for a fact that not everyone leading the Republicans in Congress is a drunken idiot - even if they are willing to play Russian Roulette with the economy of the country, and the financial stability of millions of Americans.

To a sane person, like Wonkblog's Ezra Klein, the Republican position on the sequester may seem somewhat insane. As Klein notes, Congressional Republicans seem to have five goals in their budget talks with Democrats and the White House. If Republicans compromise, they can accomplish four of those five goals. If they don't compromise with their Democratic counterparts and send the country into sequestration, they'll only get part of one of their goals.

The Daily Beast's Justin Green insists Klein is missing the point, that the only real GOP goal is to cut spending without raising taxes. This would inevitably raise both the debt and deficit, but whatever many Republican voters might have been led to believe, very few people in Washington, DC actually care about deficits - and certainly not Republicans currently in Congress.

The key item Green forgets, however, is the same one the nutty tea partiers currently controlling the GOP have never really understood: That elections have consequences. No matter what ideological label they attempt to slap on it, or  how they may attempt to justify their ideology, the goal EVERY member of Congress wants more than any ideological bauble is the same basic goal most American workers have for themselves - to keep their job. If they didn't? They'd stop fundraising once they got to Congress.

If Republicans in Congress continue this budgetary game, they won't be keeping their jobs in 2014 - and any supposed cuts tea partiers falsely believe they'll gain will be wiped out once the ballots are counted.

In fact, since we've seen this kind of political game play out before, we can pretty much tell you how this game is likely to end.

On Thursday, Congressional Republicans will either come back to the bargaining table where the Democrats have been the whole time and extend the sequester - again - for another month. Or Republicans will allow their tea party extremists to put hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work over the next 30 days.

After four weeks of what will likely be either barely static or growing unemployment numbers, Congress will come to the budget standoff at the end of March. At that time, after a month of job losses, caused unnecessarily by Republicans, GOP leaders will spin the cylinder on the political gun again. Then, they'll either come to a deal with Democrats, or shut down the government - and own sole responsibility for refusing to compromise, thereby driving the nation's economy further off the cliff.

Finally, in May, when the debt ceiling extension comes around again, either Republicans will pass the extension as they have so many times before, under Presidents from both parties - or they will hit a live political round, and blow away any chance they might have at winning anything in the 2014 midterm elections.

We have just one question for Republican leaders on the budget crisis, tinged with irony:

Are ya feelin' lucky, punks?

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