New Orleans Two weeks is a pretty good vacation in the real world, so I guess we should be happy that we got a brief break from screaming headlines about the dysfunction of the US House of Representatives, and it’s Republican majority’s constant contention and chaos. Unfortunately, here it comes again, with only a week before another potential shutdown.
` The new Speaker Mike Johnson hasn’t bothered to disclose his plan, if any, for how he’ll deal with this real-world problem. We’re way out of his normal lane, since this isn’t a spiritual or cultural question, but about money and votes. I think it’s fair to say that it’s all deeply worrisome so far.
His first effort to deal with the crises everywhere around us was labeled by some pundits as “unserious,” which must be a euphemism for stonecold ridiculous. He steered through a measure that pretended to be about funding some of the Israeli war efforts in Gaza for $13 billion or so, but his tactic was bizarre. He wanted to take that money out of the existing Biden funding to upgrade the IRS ability to stop the rich from cheating on their taxes. Yes, you can’t really make this stuff up. There’s no way to credit Johnson with believing this was a strategy. Some estimates were that this gambit would cost the government somewhere between $78 and $100 billion, if it had succeeded. That’s a lot to pay for $13 billion in aid. Of course, it went nowhere, and ended any hope from even the Wall Street Journal editorial writers that he would man up in his caucus and fund the security needs for both Israel and the Ukraine.
More trouble signs are ahead. The old Republican game was to try to pass individual spending bills for various agencies and departments where they could hold their votes together in order to allow them to isolate their political targets in the Biden budget. Johnson tried that with two individual bills but failed to hold his majority together and lost both of those efforts, underlining the continued division between the radicals and the moderate in his caucus.
What the heck? When does the posturing and performance end, and these folks learn to get real, count the votes, and do the job the country is paying them for? We’ve got nothing but trouble in capital city.