People ask what a dog would do if it caught a car. We’re finding out.
For the last six years Republicans in Congress have been content to complain, accuse, threaten, and block. Neither required nor expected to do anything useful, they could luxuriate in laziness, run to the always-welcoming arms of Fox “news,” whipping up anger and paranoia, never to worry about the consequences. Now, having routed Democrats across the land, the tire is in the other mouth. In the majority in both houses of Congress, Republicans are faced with the prospect of letting the dog out of the bag. Which they’ve done, on day one. For those who value honesty, it’s not looking good.
Ignoring history and the real time lessons of such laboratories of failed Reaganomics as Wisconsin and Kansas, R’s want, yet again, to inflict upon us the never-worked and never-will policies of trickle-down economics. This time, however, they have a plan: Since the math doesn’t work, they’ll ditch the math. As soon as teeth got to tread they announced their intention to dump the current head of the Congressional Budget Office, the heretofore impartial budgetary evaluator of legislation, and to replace him with one that’ll adopt something called “dynamic scoring” which, far as I can tell, is a way of deciding whether a budget will do what it says it will by assuming it’ll do what it says it will. (More at the New York magazine: tinyurl.com/p39owoh.)
Reminds me of my college days, when a friend and I, who were very competitive with one another, were playing darts. I kept hitting the bull’s-eye, and he kept hitting about six inches above it. So he moved the target up six inches and declared, “It’ll be better for both of us.”
That’s not all. They’ve already voted to cut Social Security. And they approved the Keystone Pipeline, even before the official studies of it were complete, and before Nebraska (which, for some reason, seems to have a say in it) decided its position. So much for Federalism, and so much for substance vs. symbolism.
Which raises the empyrean question: What, exactly, do the Republican majorities plan to do with their power? Mitch McConnell has declared that the adults are back in charge. (He also credited the recent election with the economic recovery that’s been underway for six years.) So far, that’s meant fudging numbers and taking a meaningless vote to annoy liberals. And a bit of an “oops” on homeland security. (See PoliticusUSA.com at tinyurl.com/mr8xpso.)
But maybe they just had to get it out of their system, and now they’ll set about doing the people’s work. (And maybe the planet will start cooling on its own.) If, as they avow, they believe in America, which began with and can’t function without compromise, they have a chance to show it. Now they’ll have no problem getting legislation out of Congress and onto the president’s desk. But if they intend, finally, to govern by producing ideas that have a chance of becoming law, they’ll have to write them in such a way as to get a presidential signature; and the only way that will happen is if they’re willing to go a third of the way toward the middle. (Foxolimbeckibagger asseverations to the contrary, President Obama has shown, on every major initiative, that he’s willing to move at least half-way, leaving his left wing disappointed and angry. He did it again with the most recent budget.) So, we’ll soon learn: Will they return to legislating like America always has, or will their only aim be to force vetoes and complain? Or, as they just did in a vote that might open the eyes of all but the fully Foxified, will they drop all pretense and show us who they really are, as they just did in voting to ban experts from advising the EPA, while allowing the polluters to. See Inhabitat.com: tinyurl.com/okjvkmu.) Absent a lobotomy, it’s hard to be optimistic.
And now, in response to a couple of recent letters: Yep, I’m a logophile. I get a kick out of learning and intercalating new words. It ameliorates the anguish. And, no, I’m not angry. Depressed, more accurately, by insanity like the aforementioned. It’s like Harry Truman once said: “I never gave them hell. I just told the truth about them, and they thought it was hell.”
Sid Schwab is a surgeon and Everett resident. He writes occasionally for The Herald.