James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

‘Cut and grow’ is really the only way forward

Jan 4, 2011 20:39 UTC

In theory, at least, the House GOP is exactly right:

The new House Republican majority will use the three weeks before President Obama’s State of the Union address to repeal the healthcare law, cut spending and scrap federal regulations, incoming Majority Leader Eric Cantor  (R-Va.) said Tuesday.

Cantor said Republicans would be “a cut and grow majority,” deploying a new label to define the GOP’s twin goals of reducing government spending while expanding the economy.

The incoming majority leader said that once House Republicans vote next week to repeal the healthcare overhaul, they will move quickly to fulfill their stated commitment to cutting spending to 2008 levels. In the third part of the majority’s opening act, he said, the GOP will target “job-killing” regulations across the federal government. The goal is to lay down a clear marker before Obama addresses the new Congress in his annual State of the Union speech, which is expected to take place the final week of January.

And I hope a big cut in corporate taxes is also on the table.


The TeaOP is exactly wrong, and showing a a stunning amount of hypocrisy, to boot. Throughout the 15-month health reform debate, the TeaOP repeatedly accused Democrats of ramming through the health care bill without going through a bipartisan process, despite the fact that House Democrats held 79 bipartisan hearings and markups since 2008, incorporated Republican amendments, and posted the original House bill online for 30 days.

When the House Republican plan to repeal the entirety of the Affordable Care Act comes to the floor next week, Democrats plan to introduce amendments forcing Republicans to vote to scrap specific provisions in the law, all of which happen to be quite popular.

Republicans, not surprisingly, will block efforts to have any amendments.

Remember when Republicans demanded again and again that they be allowed to introduce amendments and generally enjoy an open process while health reform was being debated? For two years, Republicans said it was imperative for the minority to be allowed to offer amendments to legislation … but when it comes time to repeal health care reform, Republicans no longer care about their alleged principles.

But that’s not even the half of it.

For two years, Republicans said all legislation had to be paid for … but when it comes time to repeal health care reform, Republicans no longer care about their alleged principles.

For two years, Republicans said all legislation needed scores from the Congressional Budget Office … but when it comes time to repeal health care reform, Republicans no longer care about their alleged principles.

For two years, Republicans said self-executing rules and bypassing committees were outrageous abuses … but when it comes time to repeal health care reform, Republicans no longer care about their alleged principles.

As if they ever cared.

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Of debt ceilings and budget deals

Jan 4, 2011 17:42 UTC

There’s a big budget deal coming, says NRO’s Daniel Foster:

My argument is dead simple.

P1) The debt ceiling won’t be raised without a ‘yea’ vote from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.)

P2) Senator Graham said on Meet the Press that

“I will not vote for the debt ceiling increase until I see a plan in place that will deal with our long-term debt obligations, starting with Social Security, a real bipartisan effort to make sure that Social Security stays solvent, adjusting the age, looking at means tests for benefits. On the spending side, I’m not going to vote for debt ceiling increase unless we go back to 2008 spending levels, cutting discretionary spending.”

P3) The debt ceiling must be raised.

C: Graham will get what he wants, or something approximating it. That is, there will be significant revenue-side concessions from Democrats in exchange for support from the likes of Graham and Senate Republicans in his ideological neighborhood.

Don’t buy it? Okay, so which premise is false? P1? Does anyone think 53 Democrats can overcome a filibuster, in a tea-infused Senate, on anything significant, without Lindsey Graham? P3? Does anyone think either party’s leadership will allow a federal debt default?

That leaves P2, which, admittedly, is the shakiest. It rests on us taking a politician at his word. But Graham has been — for good and ill — remarkably transparent about his strategic calculus when it comes to votes. Remember when he publicly, and baldly, abandoned the energy bill he helped write because Harry Reid was going to make his life in South Carolina exceedingly difficult by doing immigration reform first? Graham is a known bipartisan deal-maker, and one of the few Senate Republicans with an open line to the White House. So not only does Graham almost certainly want to make a deal, but he is in a better position than most to know what kind of deal is possible. Indeed, knowing Graham’s style, the hidden premise in his Meet the Press comments is that he has reason to believe Democrats in the White House and in the Senate are willing to negotiate.

Bill Daley as Obama’s new chief of staff?

Jan 4, 2011 15:08 UTC

That is the buzz. But it is more than just buzz. My sources tell me that serious conversations are being had, though it is not a done deal. Certainly the business folks I have chatted with would be delighted. Forget about Valerie Jarret. When a top CEO had an issue, he or she would be calling Bill Daley from now on, not Jarrett. Daley would be “their guy.” (And I would also call Gene Sperling the frontrunner to replace Larry Summers.)  Here is the Reuters take:

Longtime Obama aide Pete Rouse is currently serving as interim chief of staff. He replaced Rahm Emanuel, who left the administration in October to enter the race for mayor of Chicago.

Many businesspeople had hoped Obama would fill Summers’ job as director of the National Economic Council with a chief executive. While Sperling has done consulting work for Goldman Sachs, his career has been heavily focused on public policy.

Daley served at Commerce during former President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Daley would bring a breadth of experience in business, not just in the financial sector. He serves on the board of Boeing Co. and has served in the past as director at Merck and Co. He is also a past president of SBC Communications.

J.P. Morgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti declined to comment.


Bill Daley? Never heard of him, but the fact that he has considerable private sector experience and also served in Bill Clinton’s cabinet is a) a good thing and b) yet more evidence that Mr. Clinton is gently pushing Mr. Obama to the centre.

The GOP had best be careful. They’ve been outwitted by Mr. Clinton before.

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