The Republican lose-lose strategy | Wis.Community

The Republican lose-lose strategy

I have no idea whether the sides in the "debt ceiling" fight (it's not really about the debt ceiling) will reach an accord before the federal government runs out of money, but the clues suggest that it won't. And here's why: Republicans win -- or expect to win -- regardless of what happens, and it's easier for them not to do anything, given teabagger intransigience and willful ignorance.

If a deal is reached, it will be only because Democrats continue moving rightward in hopes of finding an elusive compromise at the last minute. Sen. Harry Reid's current proposal puts the lie to GOP insistence that all the Democrats need to do is remove tax hikes from the bargaining table, because his proposal has no tax hikes, and yet Republicans still reject it. You can take way from that their utter disinterest in negotiating or in reaching a fair deal, or any deal at all.

If default occurs, Republicans expect to win based on the theory of "disaster capitalism," namely: economic or other social chaos creates a crisis in which pubilc opinion becomes more amenable to desperate measures that harm much of the public. Sort of a modern, more expansive version of pre-Nazi Germany's Reichstag fire.

The other component operating in D.C. and in statehouses, including Wisconsin's, is that Republicans are now the party of brinkmanship. When the Soviet Union began to weaken politically and economically, it compensated by becoming more aggressive and unyielding. That led to near nuclear war in the case of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Brinkmanship, as defined by former Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, is the political art of making sweeping threats to do harm. Dulles said that as long as the threats were credible, they could be effective even though outrageous.  

The GOP congressionals now threaten to in effect go nuclear on the economy by denying a debt ceiling increase unless (this is their nominal demand list, which keeps growing) there's agreement on a balanced budget amendment, draconian cuts to social programs and no tax cuts.

Scott Walker, notice, hasn't the need to invoke brinkmanship, because his party currently controls all levers of state government. If, however, the state Senate returns to Democratic control thanks to August's recall elections, then you can expect the Wisconsin GOP to begin engaging in brinkmanship. They might, for example, threaten to interfere with programs they don't like, defunding them by refusing to take votes, or walking away from the bargaining table and letting bills die in conference (never mind that they thought this an outrage when Democratic senators resorted to something similar).  

Either way, it's GOP: The party that puts the diss in dysfunction.

Published

July 26, 2011 - 7:14pm

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