Watching the GOP try to handle the budget impasse is like watching NASCAR. It’s noisy and monotonous, and everyone secretly waits for a crash to liven things up.
They won’t have long to wait. For what seems like a million different reasons, the various factions among House Republicans are all committing in one form or another to shut down the government if they don’t get what they want.
It’s time to acknowledge we’re long past the point where it’s better to make noise than progress. The economy is in trouble no matter what the president says about Joeconomics. Inflation hasn’t been tamed, energy prices could soon skyrocket, and household purchasing power is down considerably since the end of the Trump years.
Moreover, threatening a shutdown plays into the Democrats’ hands. It’s what they want because it will cause political problems for the GOP. McCarthy, McConnell, and the Republicans will get blamed for it – the mainstream media will make sure of that. Doing what your opponent wants you to do isn’t exactly a threat so much as it is a gift.
Looking at the shutdown caucus, one is tempted to ask how people who are so dumb get elected to Congress. Once upon a time, before a shutdown ever happened, the threat might have been enough to get everyone to the negotiating table because they feared the voters’ reaction.
Now, shutdowns are almost routine. The voters know the world doesn’t end because the Washington Monument is closed to the public, and a few bureaucrats get furloughed. It’s time for a new strategy.
First, though, the people who want to rein in spending must realize the current budget process favors the people who want to spend, not save taxpayers money. Something new is called for, something that will punish Congress for failing to fund the upcoming fiscal year before the end of the current one rather than reward it.
Railing against the process doesn’t make the Republicans agitating for a face-to-face confrontation with the White House on spending look brave. It makes them look impotent and juvenile.
Is it possible these people are the same ones you could count on in grammar school to threaten to take their ball and go home if they couldn’t pitch? It says a lot about them if they are, mostly that their negotiating skills haven’t improved since they were 12.
Those who want to attack the problem head-on, meanwhile, need to focus on something the public will understand that pulls all but the worst offenders together. Something that looks like Kentucky GOP Rep. Thomas Massie’s plan to institute across-the-board cuts in spending if a deal cannot be reached.
If you want action, that will get it. Nothing hurts politicians more than an attack on their ability to spend your money. It’s why they come back to Washington, most of them, year after year after year. It gives their lives purpose. If you want them to behave, take away their candy.
A former UPI senior political writer and U.S. News and World Report columnist, Peter Roff is a senior fellow at several public policy organizations including the Trans-Atlantic Leadership Network. Contact him at RoffColumns AT gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter and TruthSocial @TheRoffDraft.
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