The President invited the Republican leadership over to the White House yesterday for a nice lunch. Evidently everyone had a wonderful time. Leader Boehner was moved to proclaim that they had found common ground on a wide range of topics. But while Mr. Boehner may have reached some manner of agreement with the President he has a long way to go to find common ground within his own party.
The fact is the Republicans are in disarray and are having a great deal of trouble finding their footing. After staying on message for the last two years as they worked to unseat Democrats, they have been wildly dysfunctional since taking office.
Their campaign mantra was “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs” but they have not offered one piece of job generating legislation.
They promised to reduce the size of “big Government”. Thus far they have put forth not one, not two but three separate pieces of legislation aimed at eliminating a woman’s right to choose. Nothing says small government like trying to oversee every pregnancy in the United States.
They promised major cuts in government spending in an effort to cut the deficit. Their spokesman, Rep. Paul Ryan proudly trumpeted a weak $35 billion in cuts. After being tarred and feathered by their Tea Party members they made further cuts increasing the total to a whopping $40 billion. Tea Party Senator Rand Paul responded with his plan for $500 billion in cuts saying that the Republican leadership was not serious about cutting the deficit.
Republicans have even found rough footing in scoring on what appeared to be slam dunk wins. The New York Times reports that what was expected to be a routine temporary extension of the anti-terrorism provisions of the Patriot Act was defeated when twenty six Republicans joined Democrats in defeating the bill. Republicans were also forced to pull some trade assistance legislation off the floor when conservatives raised objections.
Looming over this Republican discord is the shadow of the upcoming expiration of the debt ceiling. An increase in the debt ceiling flies in the face of everything the Republicans promised during the recent campaign. Their Tea Party members, like Rand Paul, are determined to keep that from happening even if it means defaulting on the country’s financial obligations.
It is good for the country if Mr. Boehner and the President can reach a consensus of opinion. Now all Mr. Boehner he has to do is find consensus within his own party. So far that has been easier said than done.