It’s a sad day in our country when a bipartisan agreement on a budget deal is reached well before the deadline to reach an agreement and people seem shocked. As if it’s almost too good to be true. That’s how unproductive Congress has become. Simply doing the basics of their job has become a surprising headline.
The question I’ve seen asked by a few people is, “What prompted (of all people) Rep. Paul Ryan to seriously work on a bipartisan budget deal with Democratic Senator Patty Murray?”
I believe it’s damage control by some of the “established” Republican members of Congress to begin trying to sell themselves as something other than the “party of no,” knowing that they need some positive press leading up to next November’s midterm elections. And whether you believe it or not, though he is one of the more far-right leaning Republicans in Congress and is usually liked by tea party Republicans, Paul Ryan really doesn’t qualify as a “tea party favorite.”
What this deal really tells me is two things:
- Republicans are trying to appeal to more mainstream Americans by appearing as the party that’s willing to work with Democrats, and “obviously never wanted our first government shutdown because look at how we came to this agreement.”
- It’s clear that Republicans have been the problem in Congress all along, considering Democrats were willing to work with one of the most partisan members of the Republican party to create a budget — yet many Republicans can’t even work with their own party to agree on that same budget.
This budget has angered the far-right base of the Republican party, in particular the tea party Republicans. The people hell bent on destroying our government sure don’t like seeing it work.
But what Paul Ryan (and other Republicans) are betting will help the public image of the Republican party is only going to end up backfiring. Because if the tea party wasn’t already paranoid enough, they’re really going to go out of their minds now. Paul Ryan — someone who many of them viewed as a “true conservative” — is working with the filthy, America-hating liberals?
And that’s the problem. When the Republican party embraced the tea party, it unleashed a well-funded monster that’s not going to go away. It’s an entire movement built on propaganda and talking points that feed into what conservative voters want to hear instead of what actually makes sense.
For a perfect example of this, just think back to the GOP presidential primary when the question was posed to every candidate about a hypothetical 10 for 1 swap for deficit reduction to tax hikes. Meaning that for every $10 in deficit reduction, they’d have to agree to $1 in tax hikes. Every single candidate said no, they would reject that deal.
Rejecting that hypothetical deal would make absolutely no sense. Oh, but it sounds great when you’re pandering to your right-wing base that opposes any mention of a tax hike. Again, it doesn’t make sense, but it sounds good.
So what this budget deal will ultimately do, which has already started happening, is continue the growing rift within the GOP. The tea party is not happy with this budget and is already urging Speaker Boehner to block any vote (as they did with the shutdown), and if he doesn’t do that — watch out. You’re going to witness a harsh backlash from the tea party.
This is the problem the GOP faces. They can’t act more “mainstream” without angering their base. Yet they can’t pander to their base without isolating themselves from the “mainstream.”
So while a few Republicans are celebrating this budget deal as a sign that they’re not just the “party of no” and are willing to work with Democrats to get things done, their celebration might be very short-lived.
Because what they’ve also done is angered tea party Republicans and their voters. And their ignorance has proven time and time again that it can drown out anything else that might be going on.