It appears that a budget agreement is at last going to happen. Finally a majority of our elected representatives have restored some sanity to the process in order to prevent another chaotic situation in mid-January. But there are still some tea party Republicans or those with tea party primary opponents who didn’t vote for it. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said that he would not support the budget. He also has a tea party opponent in Kentucky. It would be funny if it wasn’t for real that there is a faction in Kentucky that doesn’t think McConnell is conservative enough.
It is probably fair to expect that all Republican candidates will run on a mantra of Obamacare, how it is the worst legislation in history, that it is the opening salvo to turn the USA into a third world socialist country---and much more of the like. Of course we have never gotten a single Republican healthcare plan even when the Republicans had both houses and the White House---unless you count New Gingrich’s, Mitt Romney’s and the Heritage Foundation’s plans that looked much like Obamacare. Congressman Tom Price’s bill hasn’t even been taken seriously by his fellow Republicans, so we can’t expect much from Republicans on this score unless you count criticism and rhetoric.
In the meanwhile Republicans continue to flail away at government spending. The proposed House budget, though, increases spending for a few years before over time there is a net reduction. Believing that the reductions will occur requires an act of faith, and I personally am not a man of faith. Already the proposal to reduce military retirement COLAs until age 62 is coming under heavy fire from every veterans group and will not likely survive. Don’t expect the corporate farmers to take any torpedoes on their multibillion dollar subsidies. If you think the tax code is going to be overhauled to create some fairness, to reduce paperwork, to eliminate complex regulations, you are living in Walter Mitty land.
During the upcoming primaries and ensuing general election, if someone asks a question about jobs, among many legitimate societal issues, expect the response to circle back to blame Obamacare for the problems. This legislation may even be accused of causing cancer and heart disease. But in the end things that could help to create jobs (revised tax code, focus on higher education, rebuilding infrastructure, etc.) won’t get serious attention.
The next big political event occurs in February when the congress has to vote to raise the debt ceiling. Interesting that many reactionary radio talk meisters spin this as though it allows Obama to spend more money instead of the truth that it allows the government to pay the bills for spending that congress already authorized. The real irony will be if any Republicans vote against raising the debt limit while favoring increased spending in the proposed budget.
This is going to be a show to watch over the next ten months or so. If tea party Republicans prevail in the elections, there will be a hard shift to the right in this country. That would have a dramatic effect on what legislation gets passed or stalled out. If mainstream Republicans prevail, there would be hope that just maybe we could expect more compromise by both parties, more crossing the aisle to work together for the good of the country. Next year is going to be a very interesting political year, one that could have enormous influence on who the presidential candidates will be and what their platforms will look like