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What do Republicans want to accomplish?

So what's the affirmative agenda of the Republican majority in the House? Well, as Mark Schmitt writes, it's hard to say:

There have been three major Republican/conservative takeover elections in recent history: 1980, when Ronald Reagan carried 12 seats and control of the Senate; 1994, when Newt Gingrich's Republicans took both houses; and 2010. The first, while in many ways a reaction to the incompetent presidency of Jimmy Carter (a conservative Democrat whose flaws came to symbolize liberalism) unquestionably carried a mandate for conservatism. The second, 1994, was in many ways a reaction to congressional corruption, combined with a long-postponed rejection of Southern Democrats, but Gingrich and his allies took it very seriously -- perhaps too seriously -- as an ideological mandate.

This year, though, right-wingers barely even pretended to have a comparable program-cutting agenda. Their main talking point about health reform was that it would cut Medicare benefits. They railed about TARP and the auto bailout, but the former originated in the Bush administration, and they will not attempt to repeal it. They talked about creating jobs by reducing the deficit, which is economic nonsense. Moreover, not one of the policy plans the Republicans produced would reduce the deficit by a penny. Tea Partiers ranted about constitutional and economic schemes that they probably won't even introduce, much less pass.

Without enough votes to actually pass anything, the agenda is going to be to run the House in such a way that voters consider President Obama and the Democrats a failure in 2012. Or, as Mitch McConnell put it, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

By Ezra Klein  | November 3, 2010; 1:45 PM ET
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Again, for the millionth time, this strategy has been glaringly obvious since the stimulus debate, at least to those of us who grew up in Republican communities in red states, if not to this cocooned administration and its cheerleaders in the media. As "Nixonland" shrewdly tells us, the GOP has been waging a holy war for forty years, and they mean to win.

The Dems need to respond in kind, with full-throated demonization of angry old white people. Any thing less guarantees failure.

Posted by: scarlota | November 3, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Republican fiscal policy is this: hold tax rates level so that net interest on the debt crowds out entitlement spending.

In a political system where fiscal responsibility to reconcile expenditures with tax revenues is not valued, then the best course of action is to let the Democrats step forward to recommend cuts to entitlement spending. Getting specific about spending cuts would be suicidal for Republicans when they know fiscally irresponsible Democrats will demogogue them into oblivion.

The best time to force the Democrat's hand would be when time comes to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans will demand a complete repeal of Obamacare and some permanent cuts in entitlement spending.

Without the ability to issue debt, the President will be forced to make his own decisions about what to cut. Mind you, this doesn't shut down the government. It just chokes the oxygen supply.

If Democrats agree to these concessions on spending would probably make it OK for the Republicans to agree to a tax increase to get federal revenues to 20% of GDP.

That's a compromise Republicans could sell to the 85% sane fraction of their base.

Posted by: ElGipper | November 3, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The Republicans want power, Democrats want to govern. OK?

So you will see NOTHING for the people from Repubs and Obama and the Senate will play defense.

They, Repubs, can't talk about being fiscally responsible when they were the ones to repealed "Paygo" and fought TWO wars "off the books".

Seriously, how can you even ask this question when Boehner and McConnell have made it so clear. They want a return to the W admin policies. Who knows, maybe K street will rev up their "pay to play" machine again.

Posted by: celested91 | November 3, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, the revisionist history of liberals. The revolution of 1994 was simply a reaction to 'corruption'?

Do liberals forget 1993, the last time progressives tried to hijack our health care system? That, and other left-wing issues that Clinton tried to pursue out of the gate, led to a backlash by independents and moderates who may not be Republican, but still have conservative values.

So let's see 1994 followed a failed effort by a liberal to take over health care. 2010 follows a progressive's effort to take over health care.

No, he's probably's all about 'corruption'.

Posted by: dbw1 | November 3, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of spending, the revisions to GSA's government spending website ( ) are helpful. The summary tab at the top leads to a path where you can now drill-down through contracts/subcontracts for each agency to see both open, closed, and progressing contracts.

That bit of transparency is helpful.

Posted by: rmgregory | November 3, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

"Interesting, the revisionist history of liberals."

Interesting, the revisionist history of conservatives. Clinton promised united government. Bob Dole used the filibuster to deliver divided government on the sly.

Rinse and repeat.

Posted by: pseudonymousinnc | November 3, 2010 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The only thing they want to do is say NO to Obama

To them, that is awesome and great and shows how they standing up for their own idiotic, right-wing base

Posted by: Bious | November 3, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

What the House does will be a reflection on the Republicans NOT the White House.

Obama can run against the Republican do nothing congress.

Posted by: maritza1 | November 3, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

(via Baloon Juice): Robert Novak says that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats truly believe in governing, and Republicans just want power.
I'd agree. And that means the American people are gonna get a world of hurt the next two years, and that the media has to start telling the truth - the failure of the economy in the next two years is in service to GOP lust for power and disdain for governing.

Posted by: RalfW | November 3, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Of course the Republicans are going to spend the next two years trying to make sure they win in 2012. That is what they do, regardless of the impact on our nation.

And the way to respond to this is for the Democrats to take this opportunity to finally engage in the type of boldness on economic issues that they should have done two years ago and for past couple decades so that they can successfully fight back when the economy is still struggling two years from now.

The simple fact is that yesterday's drubbing was due to the failure of the Democrats to fix unemployment, low economic growth, and the mortgage crisis. And the reason for that failure is that we gave into the Blue Dogs and centrists who said we had to be cautious and moderate. Therefore, we passed a stimulus that was too strong, made ourselves appear to be bed with the bankers by appointing Summers and Geithner, and failed to help people whose mortgages were underwater. Without these continuing economic problems, yesterday's election would not have been a drubbing and the tea party/Fox News attacks on President Obama's other significant achievements (health care reform, student loan reform, credit card industry reform, Wall Street regulation, etc.) would have largely fallen on deaf ears.

The silver lining is that many of the Blue Dogs who would constantly undermine any effort to be bold are gone, and the centrists can be blamed for yesterday's debacle. This frees President Obama and Democratic House and Senate members to propose a truly bold plan. Sure, it will be shot down by the House GOP, but their ideas are not going to help the middle and working classes in America or achieve economic improvements. By proposing bold steps, President Obama and the Democrats will have something to run on in 2012 and can enact real reform soon thereafter. Now, let's just make sure they do it.

Posted by: WinningProgressive | November 3, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

It is a bit rich for Republicans to rail against TARP and the auto bailouts while simultaneously benefiting from the fact that the economy didn't collapse because those programs succeeded. This is, in a sense, the paradox that Democrats have to grapple with from the Republicans: the country benefits from good policy, allowing Republicans the breathing room to campaign on social issues and complaints about programs that they now don't have to actually repeal because of their success.

Posted by: tyromania | November 4, 2010 5:44 AM | Report abuse

I heard someone on the radio this morning say that Eric Cantor had a 22-point plan of what the Repubs want to accomplish. Does anyone know anything about this? I'm honestly curious. (No, not THAT KIND of curious).

Posted by: klautsack | November 4, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

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