Friday, January 19, 2018

The GOP Is Incapable of Governing


If the federal government shuts down after today, the fault will lie directly on congressional Republicans who (i) cannot even agree among themselves, and (ii) continue to push proposals that contain no compromise.  Yes, disingenuous liars like Paul Ryan - perhaps the most dishonest man in Washington after Der Trumpenf├╝hrer himself - and Mitch McConnell will try to blame Democrats, but I suspect that the public other than brain dead Fox News viewers will see through the lies.  The bottom line is the GOP controls both houses of Congress and the White House.  The buck stops with them. And yes, Trump bears much blame as well.  One can only hope that a majority of voters will take it upon themselves to fix the situation by handing control of Congress back to Democrats in November. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the GOP's inability to govern and even pass a basic budget. Here are excerpts:
The federal government late Thursday faced increasing odds of a partial shutdown, the culmination of a long period of budget warfare that has now imperiled what most lawmakers agree is the most basic task of governance.
 
[T]he impasse raised deeper questions about the GOP’s capacity — one year into the Trump administration — to govern. Never before has the government experienced a furlough of federal employees when a single party controls both the White House and Congress, but that’s what will happen after midnight Friday if a spending bill fails to pass Congress.
 
While Democrats criticized Republicans for failing to do what was necessary to win their support to keep the government open — a responsibility that has historically fallen to the party in charge — even some Republicans acknowledged there had been a profound breakdown in how Washington is run.
 
The 30-day extension, passed by the House but expected to be defeated in the Senate, would have been the fifth temporary funding measure in the past year, a period during which Republicans had failed to put in place a long-term budget plan.
 
Unlike almost any president or administration before him, Trump has fanned the flames of a shutdown.
Trump has repeatedly mused about the prospects of halting federal operations, saying at one point that the government needed a “good shutdown” to teach Democrats a lesson. The budget he proposed last year was so sparse on key details that the Congressional Budget Office said it could not analyze its impact on revenue.
His aides have not hashed out a broader spending agreement with GOP leaders or Democrats, and the White House and GOP leaders have remained split on how much money to appropriate for the military.
Senate Republicans spent the second half of 2017 immersed in tax negotiations, spending little time focused on how to pay the government’s bills this year.
The Senate Appropriations Committee, which votes on spending bills, has held just one full committee hearing since July. . . . The House Budget Committee, meanwhile, has had three different chairmen in 14 months.
Senate Republicans aren’t expected to vote on a budget resolution at all this year, a move that would have been unthinkable in recent years, as they said it was a cornerstone of good governing.
These continuing resolutions have made leaders from both parties restless and increasingly defiant heading into the November midterm elections, when Democrats see an opportunity to wrest control of one or both chambers of Congress.
Republicans have said that even though they control the White House and Congress, Senate rules make it impossible for them to pass spending bills without bipartisan support.
But there are no signs that Republicans are united behind their own budget proposals. . . . several Republicans have said they won’t support the spending bill. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is battling cancer and isn’t expected to be back in time for a vote on Friday, and they need 60 votes to proceed.
As congressional leaders searched for a solution Thursday, Trump upended the process by renewing his demand that the U.S. taxpayer fund construction of a border wall with Mexico and saying he opposed reauthorizing a health care program for children as part of the short-term spending bill — a stance that he later reversed.
The president’s rapidly fluctuating positions have frustrated Republicans who are working to blame the budget problems on Senate Democrats. Even though Democrats have their own divisions, especially between those from conservative states and other, more liberal members, they appear to be uniting because of Trump’s changing demands.
Those Twitter posts emboldened Democrats and infuriated a number of Republicans who were hoping to patch together enough votes to avert a shutdown.
Democrats, who also have major differences on spending bills, have used the GOP disunity to unite. They have insisted that any spending bill must take action to prevent the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.
Trump had appeared open to that idea early last week, but his approach changed.  . . . . “The President’s repeated statements urging a government shutdown are beneath the office and have heightened the budgetary dysfunction,” Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrats, said in a joint statement. Virginia would be hit particularly hard by a government shutdown, in part because of the large number of federal employees who live there.
Today’s budget dysfunction has many of its roots in the election of a tide of conservative tea party members in 2010. . . . . But the Republican Party never fully united during the Obama administration, with some members pushing for dramatic spending changes and others wary of slashing benefits for the elderly and the poor.
In 2017, Republicans took control of the White House and both chambers of Congress and they no longer had Obama to blame for budget disagreements.
After one year of complete GOP control in Washington, the government’s budget picture has only worsened. It now has roughly $21 trillion in debt. The U.S. government spent $666 billion more than it brought in through revenue last year, and that figure is expected to grow this year because of the deep tax cuts that went into effect Jan. 1.
Republicans are now pursuing a deal that could add close to $250 billion in new spending for military and nondefense programs. In addition, lawmakers have looked at adding another $80 billion in spending to address hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters that occurred in 2017.
But these negotiations have stalled repeatedly and are one reason that Congress kept passing short-term spending bills until lawmakers this week showed signs they had enough.
It goes without saying that a federal government shut down will hit Hampton Roads particularly hard given its large number of federal workers - things will be only worse in Northern Virginia.  One can only hope that the wake up to the fact that the only solution is voting Republicans like Scott Taylor and Rob Wittman out of office in November.  

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