Jens 'n' Frens
Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

"A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures."
  -- Daniel Webster

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 :::

Megan McArdle has written a lot recently that I'd like to echo. In particular, as she mentions here, and as I alluded to a few days ago, a lot of the tea party crowd seems to overestimate the public appetite for small government.

I think the tea party movement has pushed the nation in the direction of small government - I even suspect the net effect of the tea party in 2010 was good for small government politicians, even though the specific races where I'm most convinced the tea party had an effect were races that they cost the Republicans. It's their fault that Delaware elected a Democrat instead of a moderate Republican to the Senate last year, and it's probably their fault that Harry Reid is still in the Senate (though if you consider the phrase "majority leader Chuck Schumer", you might say they pulled a Homer). On the other hand, they probably unseated Russ Feingold and motivated a lot of Republican volunteerism in campaigns nationwide.

But I don't think the way to build on this success - i.e., a Republican House, with many of those Republicans from (as McArdle puts it) the Neo-Coolidge faction - is to try to parlay that into complete control against a Senate with a Democratic majority and a Democratic president. I think holding up the worst excesses of the Democrats while doing things that make it more likely that people will elect your friends in 2012 is a better option than convincing the public that your sort shouldn't be allowed near the levers of power at all. The fact that the President has, as the deadline neared, become increasingly intransigent himself may help the Republicans' electoral chances next year, and the Senate seemed like it might try to broker a compromise, but I think the House's repeated decision to hold votes on budgets that couldn't pass the Senate looks better than the Senate's repeated decision to say, "no to what you said, and, no, we still haven't passed a budget in over two years, but of course we're not going to offer something constructive; someone might attack it." But I think the big story has still been the Republican base insisting that it be treated as having more popular support than it has, thereby enhancing the regulatory uncertainty that so many Republicans complained about last fall.

McArdle also notes a Phil Klein comment that the Republican party is likely to see battles between its defense wing and its limited-government wing. She points out that the Democrats are likely to have factional difficulties, too, but a thought similar to Klein's occurred to me shortly after I read the outline of the deal: the carrot for the Republicans to support further deficit-reduction this fall is supposed to be a 10% cut in defense spending. But if Boehner called an up-or-down vote for a 10% cut in defense spending in the House, are we sure it would lose? I suspect it would, but I don't think the noes would get to 218 (or 216 or whatever it is right now) with Republicans alone.

::: posted by Steven at 12:36 AM

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Idle thoughts of a relatively libertarian Republican in Cambridge, MA, and whomever he invites. Mostly political.

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