City Journal Winter 2014

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Stephen Eide
The Cliff and the City « Back to Story

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Mr Davis' comment hits the bull's eye: Republican leadership is nihilistic, and effectively suicidal. Whether this is part of a larger scheme of things (like civilizational decline and fall) remains to be seen. The demise of common sense is being confirmed on a daily basis.
Where to even start? First, how did those making the deal ever think we would get GDP growth of 4.4% in 2013? Plus, how is it that cities, which are supposed to be engines of growth and prosperity, are dependent on the state around them for subsidies? Isn't that a reversal of the historic norm?

Much of the crisis posed by the 'fiscal cliff' appears to have been as a result of the failure of budget negotiations in 2010, when Boehner got thoroughly outmaneuvered by Obama. Boehner, for reasons that are mystifying, agreed to allow the tough budgetary decisions to be made after the election, which was perfect for the Democrats.

How could Boehner possibly have made such a bad deal for his party and his country? Plus, how could he and the Republicans not have told the rest of the country long and loudly that the so called Bush tax cuts also gave substantial breaks to middle class taxpayers as well?

More important, why is it that Democrats are able to so easily out maneuver hapless Republicans again and again? How could Boehner ever have agreed to any deal that could result in evisceration of the military - the last, the one and only agency of government that remains independent of the Democratic machine (and say goodbye to democracy if that ever changes)?

How did such an incompetent ever get elected Speaker?

Just another reason why Boehner has to be the weakest Speaker in my lifetime - how Republicans could have voted in this man is a mystery. It is downright frightening that the opposition to Obama on budget negotiations is Boehner.

Going back to cities, you have to wonder how the situation became reversed, and the cities - or most of them - went from being areas of economic activity to basket cases always begging for money from the rest of the states. In my state - New Jersey, outside of maybe Jersey City, the major cities (or formerly major cities) - Newark, Elizabeth, Passaic, Trenton, Paterson et als, went from being centers of growth and industry to endless money pits.

The real problem here is that Republicans have taken the wrong message from the election. Even though the election could easily be perceived as a a split down the middle - where a formerly immensely popular Democratic leader managed to squeak by with relatively close margins in the important state elections, Republicans somehow interpreted the election as some kind of mandate for large unsustainable government, and the adoption of all of the Democrat positions. In arriving at this conclusion the Republicans were aided by an overtly biased press which magnified the scale of Obama and the Democrat's victory, and called for ruinous changes to the Republicans.

Boehner's actions post election have been shameful. Rather than thanking those people who worked long hours for Republican candidates, and spent hard earned money (unlike Democrats who through public unions get a taxpayer subsidy of their campaigns), and claiming victory on some fronts, Boehner signaled complete surrender by going on national television and announced that Republicans would now be open to increasing "revenues" thereby adopting the baloney language used by Democrats for tax increases. He also announced that Republicans would cease opposition to Obamacare, which Boehner called "the law of the land."

What kind of leader does this? What kind of leader immediately after a grueling and hard fought election, which resulted in the Republicans maintaining solid control of the House, kicks out the legs from under his supporters? Did the Democrats suddenly admit their policies were wrong after 2010, when, in the words of Obama, the Democrats were "shellacked?" Why do Republicans always go in defeat mode after losing an election - like when Bush fired secretary Rumsfeld immediately after 2006. It's as if these people don't believe in the principles they articulate during the election, since they abandon them the minute they face a setback.

This is leadership? If they don't believe in what they are saying why don't they move over and let someone else do the job?

Did the Democrats admit their party's positions were wrong after getting "shellacked" in 2010? Of course not - the Democrats didn't give an inch, boldly telling their friends in the press that the reason for the poor showing in the election was that they didn't do enough "'splaining" to the American people.

How does all this connect to this article? It's this - the very reason for the crisis we now face is the gross incompetence of the man Republicans put in charge - it was Boehner's signing off to a deal that was horrendous for Republicans. This deal was perfectly timed for Democrats and results in Republicans being between a rock and hard place - either they agree to Obama's tax cuts and tax increases or they allow all of the tax cuts to expire and get blamed for a tax increase on the middle class. Just how grossly incompetent (sorry for using this word again and again but nothing else fits) do you have to be to agree to something like this? And how could other Republicans ever have agreed to go along with this?

I fear there is more of this coming. Take immigration - nothing gets a Republicans blood boiling faster than amnesty - it is almost the sole reason why Bush's approval rating went into the low teens, and goes a long way to explaining why the Democrats did so well in 2006 after being shellacked in 2004. Yet Boehner and other Republican leaders are already talking about amnesty despite vehement objections from the base - the 49% who voted against Obama. This isn't the place to address this issue in any detail but it does show how utterly foreign Boehner and other Republican leaders are to their own constituency - I have yet to find a single Republican who support amnesty - not one. And on this issue, I agree with Democrats - there needs to be more 'splaining, but Republicans seem unable to communicate these days.

And that's really the heart of the problem for Republicans, the inability of Republicans to articulate their position with any consistency. A good part of it no doubt is the hostility of the so called mainstream media, but that's not everything. The Republican leadership seems incapable of getting out any coherent message these days. Part of it is that those who constitute the leadership are are war with the people that constitute the party - when you come down to it, the leadership has almost no constituency - to the rank and file the Republican leadership looks more like Democrats than Republicans.

The result of this is going to be that if Republican leadership doesn't get on board with the people in the party, that those people will abandon the party and turn independent. That won't bode well for 2014 when republicans will need the rank and file to turn out so as to maintain the majority in the House. The Republican leadership seems, once again, to be stuck on stupid - with grave consequences for the country, since the Republicans are all that stands against those like Obama who would turn the United States into a rerun of Argentina - another formerly wealthy country beggered by those who make false promises of free wealth, amid a culture of institutional corruption.

As for the cities, as long as most major cities are run by Democrats, they will continue to be a drain on those around them. It's this simple formula - Democrats = institutionally corrupt, unsustainable bad government.