Congress Won’t Become Productive With a Republican Senate

Kevin McCarthyDanny Vinik wrote a great article over at New Republic, Republicans Have Big Plans for a GOP Senate. Here’s What Will Come of Them: Nothing. It is primarily about House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s claim that if the Republicans take the Senate, then they can show the people that they really can govern. Vinik’s article is one big eye-roll. He wrote, “The 114th Congress will probably look a lot like the 113th.”

According to McCarthy, the Republicans in the House and Senate will get together and grind out deals. But that makes no sense. By and large, the problem with the House Republicans has not been that they don’t agree with the Democratic Senate. The problem is that they don’t get along with themselves. To many, even most, House Republicans, the Senate Republicans are a bunch of sellouts. If the extremists in the party were not willing to compromise on anything when they only controlled one chamber, why would they suddenly be willing to compromise when they have both chambers?

Vinik made the excellent point that having control of both houses of Congress is going to make a Debt Ceiling debacle even more likely. And it sets up a very dangerous battle. They could easily put together a Debt Ceiling bill larded with a wish list of their usual demands so that the president is forced to either accept it or allow the government to default. And don’t kid yourself: there are a whole lot of Republicans in Congress who would love to see that happen. Remember, this is the party that continues to refuse free money to help their working poor and their economies just to “send a message” to the president. They are itching for a clear flight. In fact, they itching for nothing else.

There is still, however, the biggest liberal concern: Obama might start bargaining with the Republican Congress. But this seems unlikely for the same reason that the chambers are unlikely to get along. Any deal with Obama will be by definition selling out. Obama is, after all, the Antichrist. Remember back in 2011 when Boehner made a deal with Obama? By his own calculation, Boehner got 98% of what he wanted. Still, this was seen as heresy. I expect them to hold out for what they see as their ultimate rout in 2016 when they will hold all the levers of power and can get 100% of what they want.

But here is the ultimate state of things:

Republicans have been unable to coalesce around a plan for immigration reform among themselves, much less with the president. If they want to show they can govern, passing an immigration bill — any immigration bill — would be a good place to start. As with other major issues, though, Republicans find it easier to say they can govern than to actually do it.

That gets to a fundamental issue: the Republicans don’t actually have any ideas other than tax cuts and deregulation. They haven’t been able to come up with an immigration reform bill because they don’t want to do anything about immigration reform. They haven’t been able to come up with a replacement for Obamacare because they don’t want to do anything about healthcare. The list goes one. And Kevin McCarthy’s idea that they will show the nation that they can govern is just nonsense. When it comes down to it, everyone knows that the voters are not going to reward them for that even if the Republicans managed to do it. So they will fall back on what they do get support for: making high minded but meaningless political statements about how Obama wants to destroy America.

The only real change we are likely to see with Republican control of both chambers of Congress is that there will be more crises. They may be minor and they may be catastrophic. But they will come. And I’ll make a prediction: they will not be harmed by these crises. The media will portray it as a simple partisan issue. There will be many columns asking, “Why can’t they just get along?!” And if they manage to actually destroy the American economy going into the 2016 presidential election, the people will reward them with the White House. If that happens, we’ll get to see that the Republicans really can govern — like George W Bush.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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