Norm Ornstein is a long-time (as in decades) friend.
He's also one of the foremost congressional experts/scholars/pundits in U.S. history. So when he writes to say that this CG&G post from last week about Republicans in Congress is "excellent," I want to tell the world about it.
More important is that Norm's note reminded me to link to his recent article in The Atlantic about how the only way to understand what's happening in the GOP these days in to realize that there are actually five Republican parties rather than one and the five don't get along.
Let me return the favor: Norm's piece is excellent and worth a few minutes of your time.
Make no mistake about it; House Republicans definitely prefer that a Republican be elected president.
But what's been clear for years on things related to the budget has become even more obvious in recent weeks with the take-no-prisoner decisions House Republicans made on immigration and agriculture: The House GOP is increasingly unwilling to make its own political lives even slightly more difficult by making accommodations (that is, compromises) that make the election of a Republican candidate in 2016 more likely.
And I don't just mean compromises with Democrats. These days House Republicans are as unwilling to make deals that make life easier for their R Senate colleagues as they are with the Ds in either house.
I don't use the word "defense" much when talking about the federal budget because it always prejudices the conversation. U.S. military spending isn't always defensive; it often is appropriately offensive and changing the name in 1949 from the Department of War to the Department of Defense should go down as one of the top 10 greatest public relations achievements of all time.
So why did I violate my own rule and use the word "defense" in the headline to this post? To make a point: In spite of all the spin and all the warm feelings Americans supposedly have about the military, Congress was more than willing to throw defense spending under the budget bus in the sequester. When it was a question of tax increases and Medicare reductions vs the Pentagon, not only did the Pentagon lose, but it wasn't even on the field or the same game.
I first posted a month ago about how House Republicans are increasingly acting as if there's no way they won't be in the majority at least through the end of this decade. Back in January I said that this was one of the primary reasons why the threat of a sequester and government shutdown had to be taken more seriously than most analysts were doing.
Now there's more evidence that the House GOP thinks its majority will continue to exist for quite a while.
At least that's how I read this story from The Hill by Russell Berman that explains how the House is letting the Senate go first so that Democrats can't avoid tough votes on a variety of issues as they have done over the previous two years when it refused to take up House-passed legislation.
I wanted to post this right after the House GOP retreat last month, but decided to wait because I might have been overreacting.
Now, however, the proof is indisputable: Even though they are in the majority in the House and make a great deal of noise about being part of the policy-making process, Republicans have clearly now abdicated all responsibility when it comes to the federal budget and simply decided it's someone else's job.
Consider the following:
1. After failing miserably on the fiscal cliff (remember the abortive Plan B?), House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced that it was now up to the Senate to deal with the situation.
2. Boehner also announced that he will no longer negotiate directly with the president on anything having to do with the budget. He reiterated that again this week when he said at a press conference that he now was going to let the Senate go first because, whenever he negotiated directly with this president it was his "rear end that got burnt.”