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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Watch the media spin hard to stick to their "GOP senators bail out on Ryan" narrative

Democrats and the main pundits of the mainstream media — but I repeat myself — have been saying for weeks that there would be huge GOP defections when, as a symbolic gesture, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) put the House's budget (principally authored by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan) up for a vote in the Senate.

Idiots and the main pundits of the mainstream media — but I repeat myself — might think this vote is somehow meaningful, and they indeed will insist that it is meaningful, whether it is or not, because that is their agreed-upon narrative. To them, facts and events don't matter; only their interpretation.

But here's the undeniable fact about today's events: That the GOP would lose this vote was conclusively determined in November 2010 when the GOP failed to retake the Senate.

When the outcome of a vote is 100% preordained, as the outcome of this one has always been, party leaders will often decide not to "whip the vote," meaning they decide not to twist any arms of their party's legislators, and not to waste political capital. If voting with the party would put a particular legislator at risk of losing reelection, then keeping the seat becomes more important than a symbolic show of unity.

Democrats and the main pundits of the mainstream media all understood this as recently as the House vote on Obamacare, in which then-Speaker Pelosi discreetly "released" several House Democrats to vote against it: No one has ever doubted San Fran Nan's ability to count noses and votes, and she and her crew knew exactly how many of their majority they could cut slack for without it becoming a close result. No one in the press or the punditocracy declared that the Dems had suffered some enormous schism. But now when Senate Minority Leader McConnell does the exact same thing, they manage to forget that rationale entirely. Thus, for example, a WaPo political blog post that treats a one-vote difference between the number of House and Senate GOP defectors as a sudden and ominous development for the GOP:

The budget plan, which was drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and which passed the House in April with the support of all but four Republicans, was rejected by the Senate Wednesday on a 40-to-57 vote.

As was the case in the House vote, all Democrats present in the Senate voted against the measure; they were joined by five Republicans, a sign of the wariness with which some Republicans have come to view the budget plan, particularly members who may face tough reelection bids in 2012.

The Republicans voting against the plan Wednesday were moderate Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Olympia Snowe (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), as well as conservative freshman Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), who argued that the plan did not go far enough in cutting spending.

Back in November 2010, even when they were flush with the glow from the GOP's landmark victory in re-taking the House, if you had asked most Republican strategists the likelihood that by late May 2011, all but nine of the 288-or-so Republicans in Congress (i.e., more than 96%) would go on record voting for a serious, grown-up, transformative, but therefore politically risky budget — one that actually addresses the explosive growth in entitlements — they'd have laughed at you. "Maybe the young guns and the freshmen Tea Party products might go out on that limb," they'd have said, "but not practically the whole House and Senate GOP." But if you had somehow persuaded them to take you seriously, then they probably also would have been able to predict at least four of the GOP senators who wouldn't go along.

Sens. Snowe and and Collins from Maine and Sen. Brown from Massachusetts have purple constituencies. Their voting with the Senate Dems today surprised absolutely no one in the Senate, and shouldn't surprise you either. Sen. Murkowski, of course, famously couldn't win her home-state GOP primary; her defection is no surprise either.

And the Paul family, father and son, together represent a quarter of the GOP's House defections and a fifth of the Senate's — both of them because they think the Ryan budget doesn't go far enough. They obviously share a bull-headedness gene, and I wish they would figure out that voting with the Democrats is almost never, ever a useful way to demonstrate one's adherence to conservative principles. Obviously, however, if you want an accurate head-count of who wants real budget cuts and spending reforms, you subtract both Paul votes from the anti-Ryan headcount and add each to the enormous majority of GOP senators and representatives (with those two, over 97%) who've gone on record voting for Chairman Ryan's Path to Prosperity. 

I'm altogether pleased with this vote. And of course, there was this other event in the Senate today that you will tend not to see emphasized in headlines, that you will instead tend to see downplayed or left entirely unexplained, and that you will probably tend to see mentioned "below the fold" — if at all — by the mainstream media (boldface mine):

Immediately after the vote on the Ryan budget, the Senate unanimously rejected President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal. The Obama budget did not secure the support of a single lawmaker, with all 97 senators present voting “no.”

I humbly submit that any news report which contains that fact ought to be headlined something like, "Lightworker drops to zero-wattage output."

Again, as a matter of substance, this is no surprise: The Obama budget was dead on arrival. But you're lookin' for symbolism? The Senate, under exclusively Democratic leadership and almost exclusively with a Democratic POTUS, has now gone 755 days without approving a budget for a full fiscal year — and before we're done, it will probably have gone longer without approving a budget than the entire Kennedy administration lasted. And now not a single U.S. Senator of either party will cast even a symbolic vote in favor of Obama's budget, and yet there is no Democratic alternative at all.

So indeed, one party, in frantic fear of further electoral backlash in November 2012, is backpedaling furiously from its conduct between 2009-2010 and now. (I expect that any day now, it will be revealed that it was false intelligence from the CIA that lured all those Democrats into voting for the 2009 "stimulus" — undoubtedly false intelligence whose seeds were planted by Dick Cheney, perhaps in collaboration with Osama bin Laden, who's conveniently unable to deny anything anymore.)

The other party is actually hanging pretty tough for the most part, and pretty much on track. Oh, there's a whole lot more to be done: The Dems' fiscal recklessness, and what it's doing to our economy and our future, will be the key issue on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. We need to wrap that issue around Obama's and the Dems' necks on every one of the 531 days until then.

Posted by Beldar at 07:52 PM in 2012 Election, Budget/economics, Congress, History, Mainstream Media, Obama, Ryan | Permalink


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(1) Beldar made the following comment | May 25, 2011 11:56:32 PM | Permalink

Re this statement: "But now when Senate Minority Leader McConnell does the exact same thing, they manage to forget that rationale entirely."

After some further thought, I'd probably somewhat rewrite that sentence now. There's an inherent difference between whipping lightly (to let some off, but hold a prescribed margin) for a win, on the one hand, and deciding not to whip at all (because a loss is inevitable), on the other. If anything, the difference makes all the more remarkable the GOP's 40 votes for the Path to Prosperity in the Senate.

(2) Gregory Koster made the following comment | May 26, 2011 1:52:18 PM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: You are bang right about the 0-97 vote, which has aroused a long loud silence from the press. But I think you are a bit too joyous on the GOP defections. Why do the GOP squishes think it necessary to vote Nyet? Plainly, they think Ryan's plan is too harsh for the citizenry. This isn't so; my own objections to Ryan's plan like Rand Paul's are that he doesn't go far enough. But it's darn good start, and one all of us need to get behind. Certainly we will have to battle the lies the press will tell about Ryan. But this leads back to the question: are the squishes right? Is Ryan perceived as too harsh by the public? If so, what's to be done about it? A lot will depend on how the economic weather proceeds. My judgment is that a recovery will help The One and hurt Ryan. But I can't hope for bad economic weather: I am afraid that the American economic position is sufficiently weak that an unexpected idnternational economic storm could sink this nation. By sink I mean take the US out of its still-commanding position. Hyperinflation would do it. So would a sudden refusal by the world to buy our debt. (Such a refusal might be the trigger for the hyperinflation at home, with the Fed printing money.) Ryan's plan is a great start at removing this threat.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(3) Beldar made the following comment | May 27, 2011 12:43:03 PM | Permalink

Mr. Koster, the way one gets anyone to take distasteful medicine is through education as to the alternatives. My enthusiasm for Chairman Ryan's potential candidacy for POTUS is based in part on my belief that he is the most effective potential educator.

I agree that the people of Massachusetts, Maine, and Alaska are potential targets for such education; whether it will succeed sufficiently to assuage the re-election concerns of their GOP senators, I don't know.

Whatever economic recovery there may be between now and November 2012 is unlikely to be very robust, but rather would be due to the natural strengths and resiliency of the U.S. economy. I share your concerns that the bringing of bin Laden to justice will whet Obama's taste for wagging the dog, but I can't imagine right now anything he could do on the GWOT/foreign policy front which would be of comparable impact, so I think Nov. 2012 will indeed be an election on the economy, the budget, and matters financial.

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