Everyone who is paying any attention will have their own take on the process that led to the election of California Representative and House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House.
We have long been skeptical of Mr. McCarthy’s leadership, finding him much too willing to make deals with Democrats and RINOs that undercut the conservative agenda most Republican congressional candidates campaign on. However, now that the new Rules package he agreed with House conservatives has passed, Mr. McCarthy’s tenure seems to be off to a promising start.
But if you read the New York Times, you would think that the process that brought Mr. McCarthy the Speaker’s gavel and conservatives the Rules revisions they wanted was akin to an “ultraconservative” takeover of “the People’s House.”
NYT reporter German Lopez, writing in the Grey Lady’s morning news brief opined that, “The House speaker elections last week turned a typically routine government procedure into a dramatic affair. They also exposed a major vulnerability in Congress: A small segment of lawmakers can stop the process of basic governance to obtain what it wants, with potentially big ramifications for the country.”
Mr. Lopez worried that “The right flank has already connected its opposition to McCarthy to such spending bills. In speeches during the four-day speaker battle, far-right Republicans cited a $1.7 trillion spending bill Congress passed last month to argue that establishment figures, including McCarthy, have failed to reduce government spending. Among the concessions that ultraconservatives drew from McCarthy was a promise that any increase on the country’s debt limit, a congressionally set cap on the federal debt, will be paired with spending cuts.”
The problem with Mr. Lopez’s panic over potential conservative rebellions on the budget and spending is that what he is panicking over is already supposed to be the congressional rules on spending.
We already have spending caps and pay-as-you-go rules, the problem is that Congress routinely waives them. What’s worse lawmakers wait until the last possible minute to do so, leading to the situation where a 4,000+ page, $1.7 trillion spending bill must be voted on with no time for any legislator or staff to read it, let alone completely understand what’s in it.
“Consider some of the assurances the holdout Republicans received from McCarthy: more time to read and debate legislation, as well as to propose unlimited changes to it,” in Mr. Lopez’s view these basic legislative prerogatives necessary for a constitutional government to function are scary innovations of “ultraconservatives.”
“In theory, these changes might sound like common sense, since legislators should, ideally, be taking time to understand and finalize bills,” wrote Mr. Lopez. “But in practice, these kinds of allowances have slowed Congress’s work, if not halted it altogether, by giving lawmakers more chances to stand in the way of any kind of legislation.”
Now, here’s the key point where you begin to understand that Mr. Lopez is entirely clueless about how congress works and what the spending fight is all about:
Among the looming fights is one over the debt limit. If the government ever reaches this limit, it can no longer borrow money to pay off its debts, potentially forcing a default. That could cause serious damage to the global financial system, which relies on U.S. Treasuries as a safe investment.
Let that sink in for a moment – a guy writing for the New York Times thinks that borrowing more money equals paying off the government’s debts.
Earth to Mr. Lopez – you don’t pay-off your debts by borrowing more, that simply postpones the payoff – you pay-off your debts by spending less and generating more revenue, which you apply to the debt, not to more government purchases.
This is a fundamental plank of the Republican platform, not part of a vast Rightwing Conspiracy, but it is a plank that the GOP’s DC Uniparty leadership have regularly waived or ignored – until 20 stalwart conservatives said, “no more.”
The new Rules will make it that much harder for big spenders in both parties to continue to hide boondoggles and pillage the taxpayers, not just because House conservatives can withhold their votes, as they’ve always had the right to do, but because spending bills will be brought to the Floor in a more open and measured process and will be somewhat more openly debated, thus allowing for more public input on the details of government spending.
It is a strange world indeed where a “journalist” at one of the Nation’s preeminent newspapers thinks that borrowing more money equals paying off your debts, taking 72 hours to read a 4,000 page trillion dollar bill is dangerous to “democracy” and less debate and transparency on government spending makes for better policy.
Republican House leadership elections
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New House rules