Michael Barone on the GOP: Incapable of Governing

From Michael Barone’s latest column:

Last week, Republicans proved they are not a governing party….

A governing party would have, reluctantly, passed Speaker John Boehner’s Plan B, which would have preserved the current tax rates on everyone with incomes under $1 million.

Passage would have put Senate Democrats on the spot, since they voted for a similar measure in 2010. They might have engaged in negotiations with Boehner that could have been more productive than his negotiations with Barack Obama this month and in the summer of 2011.

A cruel question to ask on the merriest of holidays, perhaps, but a central one all the same: Is Michael Barone correct? Is the GOP too short-sighted and ideological to govern in the national interest? Or did the conservatives in the House instead, perhaps, make a shrewd decision, calculating that in time Americans will return to a party that stands on principle?

I myself, alas, incline toward Barone. You?

  1. EThompson

    The GOPisutterly incapable of governing. The last few years have proven that.

    With all due respect, I am tired of this argument.

    Let us refrain from blaming the people we choose to put into positions of power and take on some personal responsibility for the fiscal crises our country is facing. Mitt Romney was entirely capable of rescuing us from ourselves, but 2.5 million Republicans (who supported McCain in 2008) stayed at home on November 6.

    The American electorate is no longer interested in the principle of self-government: The American Electorate Has Changed, and There’s No Turning …

  2. Crow

    Barone isn’t wrong about the fecklessness of the Republicans, but he’s got it wrong re:the party that is unserious about governing. The Democrats, the party of ‘nothing to see here’ annual deficits; years without a budget; and no serious plan for entitlement reform all the while proposing massive new entitlements; the party of credit downgrades and crony capitalism on an unprecedented scale–these are the behaviors of a party unserious about the current state of affairs. But who is the ‘party’ who is the most unserious about governance? The American electorate.

  3. Al Sparks

    I guess I don’t care.  In the end, the arithmetic doesn’t add up.  It’s no longer about the taxes.  It’s about spending and entitlement reform.

    We’re headed for some sort of cliff whatever they do in Congress, unless real entitlement reform is addressed.  And nothing they’re doing right now addresses that.

  4. Mike LaRoche

    I have had quite enough of compromise and pragmatism.  Now is the time to stand on principle.  And if the majority of Americans are inclined to choose the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy – as Churchill accurately described socialism – then so be it.

  5. EJHill

    A party with no soul, no direction and no conviction can’t govern. Governing isn’t just voting in a bloc to prove you can be herded by your “leader.”

  6. Benjamin Glaser

    I wonder how many of these Washington insiders who make their living off the political machine and the circus it creates actually want to see the government smaller? 

  7. Jimmy Carter

    ….in time Americans will return to a party that stands on principle

    Oh, that’s rich.

    Return? To principle?

    Pray tell, which party would that be?

  8. cdor

    No the GOP is not capable of governing. Neither are the DEMS. That is why we have a debt of $16T and deficit non- budgets of $1.5T as far as our eyes can see. This last non-vote on a bill that would solve nothing means nothing. Goodness gracious, did the esteemed Michael Barone just wake up?

  9. Redneck Desi

    I am still in the 6 month mourning period and it is too early for acceptance. However, what did Democrats do from 2004-2008? Were they a principled opposition? Were they non-partison looking for “solutions” They opposed everything George Bush did, demonized him in an unprecedented way, and even refused to acknowledge a winning war strategy. They did not govern. But in the end they won and they have been able to impose their ideology through the low-information voter. Unfortunately, that has to be our template.

  10. John-John

    The crux of Barone’s argument seems to be “put Senate Democrats on the spot.”  Really?  When has any hypocrisy even raised a blush from that bunch, let alone a responsible action?

    A responsible Republican party would (a) hold its ground on taxes and spending and (b) somehow explain WHY it is holding that ground.  None of the elected Republicans campaigned on being doormats for Obama.

  11. skipsul

    Boehner’s Plan B would have cut ZERO spending, it wasn’t a compromise, it was a surrender.

    Boehner would have been better demanding that Barry surrender on something substantive – make the deal painful for both sides.  The Dems gave nothing, and Repubs gave symbolism.

    Better not to vote at all in that case.

    Anyone see the column a couple of days ago basically saying Barry was not willing to compromise anywhere?  Just like in 2009 his attitude was “I win, I’m not moving”.  

    Any deal where the Dems lose nothing is foolish at this point.

  12. Curt North

    Agree 110% with cdor, we haven’t a choice for anyone capable of governing.  Tax hikes here or there, or tax cuts here or there for that matter, they just don’t really matter as long as entitlements are largely left alone.  I’m afraid this arguments and worries about a fiscal cliff are just wind, nothing is solved and nothing will be with our current structure in place.  So once agasin the can is kicked down the road.  The real question is, what’s at the end of that road, what form does our transformation take?

  13. Al Pipkin

    The Speaker folded to Obama’s demand in 2011 and Obama turned around and upped his demand, causing Boehner to give up in frustration. Obama isn’t interested in making a deal to avoid the cliff … all he wants is to beat his opponents, so why bend to his little games?

    The Democrats have been able to pull the country so far towards their utopian dream by not compromising. So how is it that the Republican elite believe the way to achieve “our” goals is compromise? The answer is that those same elites have no principles; they just don’t want to lose what little power they’ve been able to accumulate for themselves.

    If we don’t begin holding on to our principles there won’t be a country to save.

  14. Valiuth

    Principle!!???What principles are the Republicans demonstrating other than that they would see the whole world burn before they raise taxes. Sometimes taxes gave to be raised. Sometimes unity is the most important principle. Sometimes you just have to admit that everyone else sees things differently than you and being intransigent starts being more hurtful than helpful.

  15. Nick Stuart

    The “fiscal cliff” coming up in a few days is really just a fiscal seam in the linoleum. The real fiscal cliff is when nobody will buy US debt anymore and we can’t finance the trillion dollar annual deficit.

    I agree with Barone the GOP as currently constituted is incapable of governing/leadership, but for different reasons. All they’ve been doing since the election is negotiating with themselves. They could have passed whatever they could agree on out of the house and dropped it in the Senate and President’s lap.

    It’s an epic cluster-up. As the line from Full Metal Jacket goes “it’s a great big [CoC word] sandwich, and we’re all gonna have to take a bite.”

  16. Fred Cole

    When it doubt: Pessimism. 

    But anybody observing the Republicans know that they’re utter, utter clown shoes.

  17. curtmilr
    skipsul: Boehner’s Plan B would have cut ZERO spending, it wasn’t a compromise, it was a surrender.

    Boehner would have been better demanding that Barry surrender on something substantive – make the deal painful for both sides.  The Dems gave nothing, and Repubs gave symbolism.

    Better not to vote at all in that case. . .

     Any deal where the Dems lose nothing is foolish at this point. · 0 minutes ago

    Dead on target, skipsul! Way off base, Peter!

    Senator Reid had already said he would not bring Plan B to a vote, and Obama had said if it passed both houses, he would veto it!

    So what was the purpose of the violation of stated GOP principle on taxes? A meaningless fig leaf? No, this was a cowardly surrender by an unprincipled Speaker lacking the spine to fight for genuine reform.

    The government debt bubble will begin bursting in the next couple of years. Perhaps even sooner if we don’t vigorously cut spending and encourage private sector growth. Plan B did neither! Better to vote “present” and allow Obama & Reid to pass their worthless programs, but avoid complicity in the criminal actions.

  18. EThompson
    Al Sparks: I guess I don’t care.  In the end, the arithmetic doesn’t add up.  It’s no longer about the taxes. It’s about spending and entitlement reform.

    Exactement! The sobering reality is that the top 2% of earners in this country could be taxed 100% of their income and it wouldn’t begin to make a dent in the deficit.

  19. Leigh

    I wouldn’t say incapable of governing.  I would say that they have yet to figure out how best to apply their principles as a minority party.  The Republicans have two jobs: As the opposition party, their  job is to set forth an alternative vision in contrast to the current government.  As the party controlling the House, their job is to use their current real but limited power to influence as best they can the direction the country takes.

    John Boehner is focused primarily on the second, while the Tea Party (speaking broadly) is focused on the first and little interested in the second. There’s some tension between those roles in the best of times, and the fact that the country just rejected their vision makes it harder right now.

  20. RedRules

    He’s wrong, as is your assumption. It’s not about the Republican’s not being able to govern. It’s about the Republican’s morphing into Democrat-Lite. It’s about how they can’t seem to adhere to time-tested principles that made us the greatest nation on earth.

    The House members who voted down plan B should be lauded. I hope the persevere, but I don’t hold much hope. We need to suffer through a full-on massive Depression. We need the chickens to come home to roost. Only after economic disaster can Conservatives, hopefully, be able to take back their role as faithful steward of the Constitution. 

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