Go figure

In an attempt to salvage “Cromnibus,” President Obama sent his chief of staff to Capitol Hill to present House Democrats with the following argument: the budget deal under consideration today is better for liberals than what Democrats will be able to get next year, when Republicans control both chambers of Congress. From the Democrats’ point of view, the president’s message seems both indisputable and dispositive.

Yet Democrats resoundingly rejected Obama’s entreaty. Only 50 Dems voted in favor of Cromnibus.

The indisputable premise of the president’s message should have been dispositive for House Republicans too. The strong likelihood that the GOP can get a better deal next year should, I would have thought, caused them to reject Cromnibus in favor of a short-term continuing resolution.

Yet, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly in favor of a deal that prevents Republicans from taking a good whack at the budget early next year, when they control Congress. Thanks to Republicans, the $1.01 trillion budget passed the House.

How could both parties be so perverse? The Democrats were, I think, throwing a temper tantrum. They hate the fact that they have lost power and are unwilling to accept the early consequences of their fall downfall, even though the consequences will be more acute next year?

What about the Republicans, though? What were they thinking?

For me, the answer lies in something John wrote tonight:

Republicans under Boehner’s leadership are continuing the Democrats’ approach to legislation: massive spending bills negotiated in secret by three or four people; hundreds or thousands of pages that can’t possibly be read, let alone debated, presented as a fait accompli to be voted on immediately, with no amendments; the inevitable special interest nuggets buried here and there, that emerge only after the fact.

That’s how Speaker Boehner wants to operate. It’s an approach that maximizes his power and his ability to serve special interests. Most House Republicans apparently agree with that approach, or are too weak to resist it.

Viewed in this light, Republican support for Cromnibus makes sense. The likelihood that Republicans could have imposed a better budget deal next year — a budget that spends less money, a budget that doesn’t contain so many gifts for special interests, a budget that has been reviewed and debated — is not an argument in favor of defeating Cromnibus. The leadership doesn’t seem to care very much about the size of the budget, while the inclusion of gifts for favored interests is a virtue.

John concludes that we need a Speaker of the House. I agree. But tonight’s vote tells me that Boehner’s caucus, the composition of which won’t change much next month, fully backs his approach.

Meanwhile, President Obama and Harry Reid are happy tonight.

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