Are you tired of all that winning?
When Republicans initially gained control of the House in 2011, they promised to defund Obamacare, end funding for Planned Parenthood, and cut spending in the first budget bill in March. Even though they only controlled one branch of government, the understanding was that, buttressed by an electoral landslide, Republicans would stand their ground on at least half of their demands. Well, they caved immediately and then promised us they’d fight “the next time” in the fall budget. It became an inside joke among conservatives on Capitol Hill – “don’t worry, we’ll do it the next time” – even though the same rationale for the maniacal capitulation the first time would always persist in the subsequent iterations.
Now, with control of all three branches and a president who sold himself in the primaries as the antithesis of weak-kneed Republicans who don’t know the first thing about tough negotiations, we are in the exact same position. Last night, President Trump signaled that, after not even fighting on refugee resettlement and Planned Parenthood, he would cave on the final budget issue – the funding of the border fence. But fear not, he’ll resume his demand … the next time!
This degree of capitulation, with control of all three branches, is impressing even me … and I had low expectations of this president and this party. They have managed to get run over by a parked car. It’s truly breathtaking to contrast the performance of Democrats in the spring of 2009 with what Republicans have done today with all three branches. At this time in 2009, Democrats passed the bailouts, the stimulus, the first round of financial regulations, an equal pay bill, SCHIP expansion, and laid the groundwork for other, bigger proposals, such as cap and trade and Obamacare. Then they got everything they wanted in the March 2009 omnibus bill, and a number of GOP senators voted for it. We, on the other hand, are left with nothing.
GOP fighting now less with 3 branches than when they just had the House. They are actually using "next time" excuse. Trump is exactly same.
No Obamacare repeal, no repeal of iran deal, no repeal of amnesty, no defund of PP or refugee resettlement, full budget capitulation.no wall
— Daniel Horowitz (@RMConservative) April 25, 2017
Oh, and it was obviously hard to fit in the growing list of policy delays in just 140 characters, such as the Paris climate initiative and moving the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
At this juncture, conservatives would be wise to ponder the following questions:
- What was the purpose of passing a short-term budget bill last fall to last into a new GOP presidency if we don’t use it for anything?
- If we are terrified of a government shutdown – no matter the issue and no matter how little power Democrats wield – what is to stop Democrats from demanding anything in exchange for “saving” us from a government shutdown? At this point, Democrats could demand we double funding for abortions or face a government shutdown. There's nothing Republicans wouldn't do in order to avoid a shutdown ... and Democrats know it.
- If Republicans can’t deliver on any of these basic promises when their political capital is the strongest and they stand the farthest from the next election, what dynamic will change in the next year to provide conservatives with a single legislative victory?
- If the budget will never be used as leverage to fight back against the courts, for example, on refugees and visas from the Middle East, what is stopping the courts from erasing even the few remaining benefits of this presidency in its executive orders? If Congress fails to act, the courts will likely “strike down” the executive order against sanctuary cities.
- If there are no attempts to reform the filibuster into an actual talking filibuster, what is to stop Democrats from blocking everything Republicans propose? Yet, at the same time, the American people are under the impression that Republicans control everything and will punish them for their failures. Democrats never had this problem, because, while Republicans filibustered certain proposals, they supplied the votes for a number of others, especially for all the budget bills.
- In light of the colossal betrayal on the inviolable promises to build the wall and repeal Obamacare, why would anyone put any stock into Wednesday’s promise for massive tax cuts? Why should we take his discretionary budget cuts seriously if Democrats will raise exponentially more outrage over that proposal in September and again threaten a government shutdown?
- If conservatives are going to continue their reluctance to criticize Trump directly, opting to focus their ire more on his staff and Congress, when will he ever feel the pressure to deliver? Sure, Republicans in the Senate preemptively undercut his leverage on the budget weeks ago, but why was the president not fighting the appropriators instead of fighting against conservatives who wanted to keep his Obamacare promise?
Finally, there is the most unsettling question of all: What does the GOP need to do for conservatives to finally learn that this party – its infrastructure, messaging, beliefs, and hierarchy – is irremediably broken?
Perhaps the next time.
Editor's note: This piece has been updated to correct a typo and to embed the correct tweet.