Welcome to the new age of spin where you take a rotted, fetid, smelly, almost poisonous lemon and try to sell it not just as lemonade, but the BEST lemonade ever made. And so we now get House Speaker John Boehner. Faceed with Congress’ low approval rating record — a rating so low in polls that dogs are sniffing it — he’s trying to sell it as a masterful success.
This is — no joke, not The Onion, not Andy Borowitz — how he is selling it: judge Congress by the LAWS IT REPEALS — not the laws it enacts. So the Congress was created as a body to repeal laws? N-o j-o-k-e:
Amid record-low productivity on Capitol Hill this year, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Sunday that Congress should be judged on how many laws it repeals, rather than how many new laws lawmakers enact.
“We should not be judged on how many new laws we create,” the nation’s top elected Republican said on CBS. “We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”
Congress has only passed 15 bills that have become law this year, putting it on pace to be even less productive than the preceding Congress, from 2011-2013, when 23 laws were enacted. Congress continues to suffer from record-low approval ratings and partisan gridlock that stalls most legislation (though there were some signs of a thaw this week).
The White House expressed its incredulity at the claim.
“Did Speaker Boehner really say that the Congress should be judged on the number of laws they repeal not the number they pass?” asked senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Twitter.
Perhaps Boehner is using this spin because it now appears as if House Republicans digging in their heels is the new reality. There will be no compromise — and if the U.S. goes off the cliff in the debt ceiling upcoming crisis, so be it.
A new piece by The New Republic’s Jonathan Chait titled, “Anarchists of the House” chronicles House Republican’s march to a new political anarchy, as he puts it. It’s more like political nilhilism, the willingness to bring the United States of America House down unless Democrats and the Obama administration don’t give Tea Party influenced House Republicans precisely what they want. The piece needs to be read in full but here are two paragraphs from the top:
The Republican Party has spent 30 years careering ever more deeply into ideological extremism, but one of the novel developments of the Obama years is its embrace of procedural extremism. The Republican fringe has evolved from being politically shrewd proponents of radical policy changes to a gang of saboteurs who would rather stop government from functioning at all. In this sense, their historical precedents are not so much the Gingrich revolutionaries, or even their tea-party selves of a few years ago; the movement is more like the radical left of the sixties, had it occupied a position of power in Congress. And so the terms we traditionally use to scold bad Congresses—partisanship, obstruction, gridlock—don’t come close to describing this situation. The hard right’s extremism has bent back upon itself, leaving an inscrutable void of paranoia and formless rage and twisting the Republican Party into a band of anarchists.
And the worst is not behind us.
And the final paragaphs of the three page must-read-in-full piece:
Earlier this month, House Republicans issued those demands. They are staggeringly grandiose. If Obama wants to lift the debt ceiling for the rest of his term, they announced, all he has to do is … agree to sign on to Ryan’s plan to cut and privatize Medicare. If that’s too much for him, Republicans have generously offered the choice of letting Obama accept a package of deep cuts to Medicaid and food stamps in return for a shorter debt-ceiling extension. Of course, if he chooses that route, he’ll have to come back again later and offer up further concessions.
The list is utterly deranged—Obama has sworn he won’t bargain over the debt ceiling again at all, and his entire administration would resign before he could agree to anything remotely like these demands. It’s not clear whether Republicans actually expect the president to succumb to their Bond-villain hostage scheme. But it is significant that Republicans are demanding even more from Obama than they demanded during previous debt-ceiling ransoms and will decry the inevitable failure to achieve it as yet another betrayal.
[Florida Sen. Marco]Rubio, who now passes for one of his party’s respected moderates, gives a sense of what a Republican negotiating strategy might look like this fall. The GOP, Rubio says, should shut down the government unless Obama agrees to defund health-care reform. (“If we have a six-month continuing resolution [postponing a shutdown], we should defund the implementation of Obamacare by those six months.”) Rubio has likewise demanded a second confrontation over the debt limit, insisting that failing to cut spending would risk a fiscal crisis: “They will say, ‘You’re going to risk default.’ The $17 trillion debt is the risk of default.”
In the actual world, the economy is recovering and the deficit, currently projected at half the level Obama inherited, is falling like a rock. Yet messianic Republican suicide threats in the face of an imagined debt crisis have not subsided at all. The swelling grievance within the party base may actually be giving the threats more fervor. The reign of the Republican House has not yet inflicted any deep or permanent disaster on the country, but it looks like it is just a matter of time.
Given this, doesn’t it make SENSE that Boehner would take the House Republicans record that will likely be denounced by future historians and try to change the definition of failure and obstructionism to success — and a new definition?
Members are elected to the House to repeal.
Life has come to imitate an old joke:
What’s the opposite of progress? Congress.