GOP built ‘House’ of cards
The idiom, “house of cards” refers to an organization or plan that is very weak and can be easily destroyed. And that is an apt description of the chaos within the Republican House of Representatives this spring.
After the trouncing Republicans took in last fall’s elections they have done what political parties often, do; examine their navel for lint and signs of the need for change.
In that introspective spirit one branch of the now divided majority party in the House decided that the parties’ focus on cutting programs people liked, like Social Security and Medicare, made people, well, love them less and less. Perhaps as majority leader Eric Cantor concluded, Republicans needed to focus, for a while at least, on something remotely positive.
And so it came to pass that the traditional radical conservatives like Leader Cantor generated bills that would show they cared not just for the richest one percent, but for the little guy, the worker bee whose unions they have destroyed and benefits they have sought to reduce.
And from that came at least two “peoples” bills to help Republicans earn the support from everyday people.
The first bill was, as described by Cantor for the “millions of Americans who just want their life to work again.” The bill was to give workers flexibility in flex time and overtime. The idea was to allow employers to stop paying overtime, in exchange for allowing workers to , at a later time of the choosing of their employer, be given time off.
It is hard to imagine the enthusiasm workers will have, should the bill pass, to lose overtime pay in exchange for time off when they do not need or want it. Wow, that is some exciting stuff for regular folks who just want their lives to work.
The other bill generated was designed to move money from a portion of Obamacare to a new fund to help people with preexisting health conditions get insurance, to help the little guy.
But the more radical conservative Republicans, (who really have yet to aptly name their fledgling movement,) thought the idea of helping the little guy sounded too much like Obamacare, a plan to help the little guy.
“I’m a ‘no’ on expanding Obamacare,” said Tim Huelskamp (Kan.).
“I don’t like seeing one big-government Democrat program replaced by a Republican big-government program,” said Trey Radel (Fla.).
And so it was that the bill, introduced on the floor of the House that day was embarrassedly pulled from the floor as Cantor and the House leaders quietly went back to plotting how to convince voters that Republicans just want to help.
Truth is, the radical, extreme radicals, within the party, do not buy into these “feel good” bills that cost money and don’t deliver Republican votes. Like Immigration reform…why do anything that results in more Democratic voters, so NO to Immigration reform. And why help folks with preexisting conditions when what is really needed is more spending cuts?
So the factions within the Republican House are now clearly divided, creating the real potential that, without Democratic votes, nothing can pass in the House.
The radicals want some “regular folks” bills and the extreme radicals just want to cut all the spending, period.
Neither group wants to acknowledge that with the aging of America the cost of the social safety net just has to go up.
Fundamentally the internal argument from the extreme radicals is the party needs to be more conservative, not more reasonable, following the Goldwater theme that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!”
Now that is a House of cards.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.