Republicans: “Trust us”

As Jon Stewart noted, ” . . . [B]are bones competence and middle school maturity” is all that’s needed to get over this economic hump (which I will studiously refrain from calling the “fiscal cliff,” a phrase simultaneously stupid and meaningless) come January.

Big bar, there. Look who the Democrats are dealing with: Republicans, who believe ACORN (defunct now for years) stole the 2012 election for President Obama, that anti-choice laws can be passed off as “regulations,” and the UN is engaging in mind control.

But here’s the funny thing:  During the election, the ultra teabagger and veep candidate, Paul Ryan, stressed that he and other consenting Republicans wouldn’t get into the nitty gritty of which loopholes and deductions Republicans would cut in lieu of raising taxes on the top 2%. Ryan said, and I quote, “We want to have this debate in the public. We want to have this debate with Congress. And we want to do this with the consent of the elected representatives of the people and figure out what loopholes should stay or go and who should or should not get them… But that is a debate we shouldn’t cut in the back room, shouldn’t hatch a secret plan like ObamaCare. We should do it out in the public view where the public can participate.”  (Emphasis added).

Great! We’re all in. Here we are, ready to have this “debate in public,” here we are, the American electorate who just voted your asses out, ready, willing and able to “do it out in the public view” and “participate.” Except now, now that the election has been lost for Republicans, now that the public discourse isn’t going their way, they’re proving – definitively – that they’re a one-trick pony. The non-specific, save the rich proposals they put forward during the election are the same non-specific, save the rich proposals they’re claiming as a real plan now.

John Boehner can get up on any stage in the universe and claim that the deductions and loopholes Republicans propose to cut are coming right out of the deep pockets of the rich folk. As Boehner said this week, “We have got to cut spending and I believe it is appropriate to put revenues on the table . . . Now, the revenues that we are putting on the table are going to come from guess who?   The rich.”

They’re asking for quite a vote of trust here. Yes, they’re saying, we know that before we proposed slashing all the social safety nets (while leaving all the tax cuts and benefits for the rich intact), and yes, we know that before our budget proposals have been a little partisan toward the top earners, but now – now – we’re entirely different.  Ignore all that; we’ve become the collective Robin Hood. Except we can’t tell you anything more. Trust us.

Although all signs point to the fact that John Boehner would desperately like to cut a deal with the President, he’s got some political problems – specifically, he’s got a teabagger problem. If he wants to retain his role as House Speaker, he has to keep the Paul Ryan faction happy; and if about 20 of that faction become disenchanted with Boehner’s attempts to negotiate, or compromise, or do any of the things that are anathema to the tea party, Boehner will find himself in a precarious position.  Boehner has to decide which master he wants to serve, and if the past is any predictor of the future, he’ll fail to do what’s right, and choose what’s expedient.

The Democrats are setting their heels, and Americans should plan on the worst scenario come January. Call it a fiscal cliff or call it an economic speedbump or call it a tempest in a teapot, when it comes to the January negotiations, Boehner’s hands are going to be tied. The tea party will continue to drive the Party into the ground, the newbie Republicans who might want to demonstrate an ability to negotiate will be stifled, and the Republican will show themselves – in front of gawd and country and the world – to be the Party that really, really doesn’t get it.