In the wake of yesterday’s defeat in the Presidential election, one possible response on the part of Congressional Republicans is to take the same approach that they took during Obama’s first term:
“Just say no.”
Specifically, whatever Obama wants, just say no.
A couple of years ago, this approach led to the Republicans refusing to reach a “grand bargain” on our debt and deficit crisis and instead taking the country to the brink of a default. If there was a compelling argument for this behaviour other than “just say no,” it wasn’t apparent.
The goal of this approach appeared to be to make Obama a one-term President.
And it almost worked.
The Republican refusal to do anything Obama wanted made Obama look ineffective. And Obama’s being unable to forge compromise was actually one of the most legitimate criticisms of his first term.
But now that the attempt to make Obama a one-term President has failed, the Republicans have a choice. They can either double down and keep saying “no.” Or, like responsible leaders, they can try to forge compromises and get this country moving forward again.
For the sake of the country, let’s hope it’s the latter.
One of the first tests of the possibly-new Republican approach will be the fiscal cliff.
On January 1, by law, tax rates are going to go up and government spending is going to get cut.
The Republicans can’t stop that from happening by just saying no. They can only stop it by compromising.
The Obama Administration is likely to propose a solution to the fiscal cliff by cutting taxes for the middle class but not for the richest Americans.
If the Republicans “just say no” to that proposal, they will put themselves in a position of rejecting a tax cut.
Given that the main economic plank of the Republican party is cutting taxes, a refusal to go along with a middle class tax cut will be the very definition of obstinance–and, with it, government dysfunction.
So it will be interesting to see how the Republicans handle this one.
Here’s hoping they compromise.
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