Congressman Paul Ryan voted for the deal, as did US Senators Tom Coburn and Pat Toomey. Outgoing Congressman Mike Pence and US Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio did not.
The Job Protection and Recession Prevention (too late) Act of 2012 did not just split the Republican caucus in both houses of Congress, but cut within the conservative wing of the delegation.
How could conservatives who generally vote the same way on almost every issue end up on opposite sides of this polarizing vote?
The 2012 GOP candidate for vice-president defended his vote for the tax compromise as “limiting the damage” and protecting “as many Americans as possible from a tax increase”. In a statement posted on his congressional website, Ryan cited the realities of a divided government.
Leading 2016 Republican presidential contender Rubio argued that the bill would add to the deficit and expressed concern about the impact tax increases will have on job creation.
So which conservative was right?
Was Ryan being pragmatic in his politics or just shilling for the party establishment?
Was Rubio being principled in his posture or was the Floridian merely exploiting the freedom of opposing a bill that overwhelmingly passed the senate to avoid having his potential presidential bid tainted with a vote that would not play well with the TEA Party and other conservative activists?
The position of Speaker John Boehner and his supporters was not without merit. The play by the compromisers was to avoid having the GOP blamed for tax increases on most Americans.
From the start, the media unjustly put the burden on the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives while absolving the White House, the Democrat-controlled US Senate and the Democratic minority in the House of any responsibility for a lack of consensus.
Furthermore had an agreement not been reached, the Democrats and the media would have hung the US economy’s inevitable retro-recession on the GOP.
President Obama escaped scot-free from being held accountable for the poor state of the economy in his first term by blaming President George W. Bush and he planned on casting the Republican house as the villains for the second installment of his blame-game.
The conservatives who held out supporting the deal didn’t see it as a bargain but a swindle, as the president got his tax hikes without conceding badly needed spending cuts.
And as a bonus, President Obama succeeded in igniting a fight within the Republican Party, though some would argue that was his main objective all along as the tax increases will in no significant way close projected budget deficits.
The negotiations over the so-called Fiscal Cliff wasn’t a fight so much as a hostage situation, with the Democrats holding a gun to the middle-class. Democrats would have welcomed the across the board tax increases as large-scale revenue sources are needed to underwrite the much bigger more expensive federal government they desire.
For Obama & Company, the bank-breaking, current super-sized government is not an end but a good start.
There is zero chance of the GOP getting much accomplished so long as Obama is president and Harry Reid runs the senate. Sure Boehner could churn out a forest’s worth of legislation but those bills won’t see the light of day in this senate.
Republicans will have a hard time over the next four years enacting the kind of fiscal restructuring America needs to avoid being crushed by debt. Without concern for another election, President Obama isn’t interested in reducing the deficit so much as reducing the opposition party.
And that is what every Republican must bear in mind as we cannot afford to be played for fools and baited into acrimonious infighting by a White House looking to benefit from intraparty feuding.
Money spent in the primaries bashing a fellow Republican’s brain in is money not spent opposing a Democrat in the general election.
Republicans need think big picture and understand that control of the House of Representatives is all that stands between our current curtailed freedoms (economic and personal) and a two-year license for the Democrats to run amok with their agenda. You can bet the Obama Administration is sitting on the “good stuff’ for the last half of his second term.
Though we will at times passionately disagree with Republican leaders in the house, we cannot be ignorant of the consequences of Nancy Pelosi holding the speaker’s gavel in 2015.
That’s not to say we can’t be conservatives; we just can’t be politically stupid.