Perhaps the thing that most confounds me about national politics is the Republicans' reluctance to use what authority they possess.
This article, which is superficially complimentary toward Speaker of the House John Boehner (R, OH). actually indicts him and his GOP caucus in a fashion I'd hate to have aimed at me:
House Speaker John Boehner has shored up his political clout after a shaky month, persuading his Republican caucus to pick its fights with Democrats more strategically.
His impressive rebound, aided by face-the-facts confrontations with colleagues, helped the government avoid a potential default on its financial obligations _ for three months, at least.
It also reassured establishment Republicans who feared the House majority was becoming so unpredictable that it endangered the party.
Let's see, now:
- The Republican Party is opposed to further increases in federal spending.
- The Republican Party is committed to reducing, and hopefully eliminating, the federal deficit.
- No bill can become law without winning the approval of a majority of the House.
- Both revenue and appropriations bills must originate in the House.
- The Republican Party has held the majority in the House of Representatives since January 3, 2011.
Have I got all that right? If so, then:
Isn't it a rather simple matter to vote down bills that would increase appropriations? Isn't it an equally simple matter to vote down increases in federal borrowing (i.e., the "debt ceiling")?
Clearly, there must be other factors to consider...other priorities at issue. But those factors and priorities seldom get adequate attention from anyone engaged with national politics -- and never from the sycophant press.
On his weekday radio show, Sean Hannity has several times mentioned a deficit-reduction plan promoted by the Honorable Connie Mack (R, FL): Reduce federal spending across the board by 1% each year for ten years. That would reduce federal spending to slightly more than 90% of its current level after ten years had elapsed. Inasmuch as the federal deficit is now approximately 45% of annual federal spending, I assume Rep. Mack is counting on economic growth to provide sharply increased federal revenues to bring them into balance with federal spending. I don't think we could count on that, nor do I think Rep. Mack can have any greater degree of confidence in that outcome.
Still, give the man credit: At least Rep. Mack is talking about reducing federal spending! Approximately no one else in Congress is doing so.
Yet with a Republican-dominated House, reducing federal spending -- even just holding it at current levels -- is a simple, straightforward matter. A Continuing Resolution that perpetuates all departments' appropriations at current levels, or at levels 1% below current, would do the job. The Senate, though dominated by Democrats, would face a stark choice: accept it or accept a federal "shutdown." All that's required is for House Republicans to stand firm on it.
But they don't.
How much of it arises from regionalized Republicanism and the attendant special-interest lobbying? How much of it is due to Republicans' timidity before the Main Stream Media? What other factors ought to be considered?
This deserves more thought than we usually give it.
The nationalization of essentially every political question, coupled to the nationalization of both print and broadcast journalism, has created an important dynamic that naturally propels ever more federal government and ever more federal spending. It might seem simple. It isn't.
Members of the House are elected by geographically defined constituencies that average about 725,000 residents. Whenever a policy question arises in Congress, each Congressman is expected to weigh both his constituency's interests and the good of the nation. Reduced to the crassest possible terms, if the policy under discussion would bring jobs and/or money to his district, Congressman Smith must weigh the good of the nation against the political consequences of opposing it. This holds equally well if the policy under discussion would reduce the stream of goodies flowing to his voters.
Because the major print and broadcast organs are national in both coverage and distribution, they can wield a powerful influence on the nationwide reputation of any federal official. The evidence suggests that this is of importance even to relatively obscure Congressmen who harbor no higher ambitions...though that might be a smaller number than one would think.
But though the major media organs are national in coverage and distribution, they are regional in their interests, particularly as regards their revenues. The New York Times, for example, gets far more of its readers and revenue from the New York Metropolitan region than from outside it. The same could be said of the various broadcast organs. Each such institution is tied by its survival interests to a particular large city and its surroundings.
If the region from which an organ draws its revenues leans in a specific direction politically, the organ's editorial policy will do so out of necessity, that it not lose readers / viewers and therefore advertisers. And large cities, especially coastal cities, are far more often left-liberal than not. Since left-liberal politics is inherently a politics of centralization, the rest follows.
The current contretemps over gun control has been much on my mind in recent weeks. I'm a gun owner and sport shooter, and I deeply resent the implication that my right to my weapons, guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, somehow poses a danger to innocent others. However, I live on Long Island, an exurb of
Gomorrah on the Hudson New York City. Our major media are those of New York City. Over time, they've driven the city's left-liberalism deeply into the mindsets of my neighbors.
Here's the kicker: Republicans who get elected in New York Metro favor more restrictive gun control quite as much as any Democrat. No more than their Congressional colleagues will they stand and fight for what their party's platform proclaims as an individual's perfect right; it would get them turned out of office. That, coupled to Long Island's high tax rates and New York's generally high cost of living, has me seriously considering relocation -- if not immediately, then in two or three years, when I've retired from my trade.
You may rest assured that if I do relocate, it will be well away from the coastal cancers whose media barons have warped so many minds and have terrified so many elected officials out of standing for Constitutionally faithful governance. Somewhere with more and better firing ranges, at any rate.