Reid’s shutdown partisanship will haunt Colorado Sen. Udall

Democrats are perfectly gleeful about the conclusion to Washington’s latest budget stare-down. President Barack Obama came away with everything he wanted — a trillion or so dollars in new debt and a three-month hall pass to keep Washington taxing and spending the way it always has.

Heckuva job, Mr. President.

Polls show that the public blames Republicans more for the shutdown. That’s probably fair. Divided on an endgame and deeply split on the whole strategy in the first place, Republicans were a rambling wreck throughout. And in the end, they got nothing.

When the story of the great achievements of the Grand Old Party is told in 100 years, there won’t be a chapter on this episode.

I’m still glad Sen. Ted Cruz did what he did. Increasing the debt shouldn’t be a legislative-coronation. Cruz was right to fight. America is going broke, and the momentum of mandatory spending will sink us deeper into the abyss, until a grand fiscal bargain takes place.

It’s remarkable to me that a fiscal bargain hasn’t been crafted already. I was on a panel with former Gov. Dick Lamm before last year’s election and commented then that he and I could cut the deal over cheese sandwiches in about an hour — close a whole bunch of tax loopholes and shelters, increase the Medicare retirement age, cut discretionary spending across the board by a percent or two, whack some waste in the Pentagon.

Voilá, a grand bargain. Plain as the bald on Michael Jordan’s head.

Even though the American public is hungry for leaders to forge this kind of bargain, it just isn’t getting done.

And this is where the Democrats’ posture during the shutdown turns dicey.

While Republicans have taken a hit in the last 10 days, the enduring image from the shutdown showdown will be that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid saying over and over and over again, “I will not negotiate with Republicans.”

Reid, the ringleader of Washington gridlock, made the mistake of saying what he actually believes.

And if Republicans play their cards right — if they make Reid and his unwillingness to sit down and hammer out compromise the centerpiece of their argument — that shrill, partisan message from the shrill, partisan lips of the majority leader could very well sink Senate Democrats.

To understand why, consider two facts:

✔ The map Senate Democrats have to defend in 2014 is unusually challenging. Democrats have to defend six incumbent senators in red states, and six Democrats in swing states.

✔ Reid has become the most toxic leader in American politics. According to a Gallup poll that was released in late September, he had a favorable rating of 33 percent, as compared to an unfavorable rating of 43 percent. Reid’s personal approval ratings are even worse than Nancy Pelosi’s.

In light of this, the Republican strategy to win really is about as simple as it gets. In those 12 swing state and Republican-leaning states where Democrats are defending incumbents, make the race a referendum on Reid in general, and his intransigent unwillingness to even negotiate with the other side in particular.

This line of attack will be particularly effective in Colorado. First, history shows it can work. In 2010, the one thing that trumped western Coloradan’s affection for then-Congressman John Salazar’s earthy, rural ethic was their disgust at his blind loyalty to Nancy Pelosi.

Second, Reid’s “I won’t negotiate” routine isn’t who we are in Colorado. Coloradans aren’t politically recalcitrant. We’re willing to sit down and try to work something out.

And last, the Harry Reid-ification of the Colorado Senate race will work here because, of all the Democratic incumbents fighting for their jobs in red or swing states, none have been more consistently loyal to Reid than Mark Udall.

Udall’s record over the last six years has been that of a down-the-line partisan. Even fellow Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, Reid’s top political consigliore in the Senate, has loudly bucked Reid a time or two.

Udall is a different story. He has a smart routine of shucking and iving back home, but when push comes to shove and the votes get cast, Udall is on Reid’s leash.

Reid’s name won’t be on the ballot in Colorado, but it might as well be, because as long as Udall’s in the Senate, Harry Reid will be in charge, and gridlock will be king.

Did Democrats “win” the shutdown? This week, yes, but give it some time. The amplification of Reid’s partisanship in the last week will haunt Mark Udall and Senate Democrats next year.

Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


COMMENTS

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Huh?

I think there will be a chapter on this debacle, when the story of the (once) Grand Old Party is told a century hence.  It won’t be kind.  Do you suggest that Congress not pay the bills on the spending it (not the president) has already approved?  Spending is an act of Congress, not the president, and Congress, not the president, has already approved those expenditures, has already ‘spent’ that money?  Effect the ‘Grand Bargain’ BEFORE you spend the money, otherwise its just partisan posturing.

New poll results: “Misconceptions about the debt ceiling were more common among Republicans, 58 percent of whom said they believed raising the debt ceiling would directly raise the debt. Pluralities of Democrats and independents correctly identified the impact of raising the debt ceiling, though about a third of respondents in each group thought that raising the debt ceiling would directly raise the debt.”  Shouldn’t you be trying to educate the misinformed members of your party rather than confusing them more?

Josh Penry’s disingenuous drivel (“Reid’s shutdown partisanship will haunt Colorado Sen. Udall”) should be titled “Repugnican’s shutdown obstinacy will haunt Scott Tipton and help Colorado Sen .Udall” – because its content confirms the latter prognostication.

While Penry grudgingly admits that a public majority rightly “blames Republicans more for the shutdown”, he fails to explain why we should now entrust that self-described “rambling wreck” with future fiscal policy – after his co-believers in Ted Cruz’s cynical “conservative values” wasted some $24 billion in sixteen days and $300 billion (costing 900,000 jobs) since 2011, while comprising only one-third of one-half of one-third of our government. 

If America is really “going broke” (which it isn’t), it would be due to Republicans’ own proven irresponsibility—profligate deficit spending, perpetual tax cuts for the wealthy, and unfunded military adventurism.  Reagan tripled the national debt; Bush Jr. doubled it; President Obama inherited from Penry’s Republicans the largest national debt and annual budget deficits in our history.  Why would anyone trust them again?

If “the momentum of mandatory spending will sink us deeper into the abyss” (which it might), that would be due to Republicans’ refusal to admit that any “balanced approach” to achieving a “grand fiscal bargain” requires both increased revenues and investments in accelerating economic growth – not more fiscal austerity and mindless tax cuts. 

Penry’s reference to his simplistic “sandwich solution” is particularly revealing.  While increasing the Medicare retirement age would exacerbate problems for older Americans just under any increased retirement age, “ObamaCare” extends the actuarial viability of MediCare “as we know it”, and “sequestration” has already “cut discretionary spending across the board”. 

President Obama’s “grand bargain” with Boehner collapsed because Republicans rejected “closing tax loopholes” as being effectively “tax increases” – even though Romney-Ryan both advocated (but refused to specify) that approach.  “Heckuva job”, Josh!

Hugenburg must assuredly be a dyed in the wool democrat. What in hello does, Romney, Ryan, Cruz, Reagan, Nixon, Kennedy or any past political entity have to do in this conversation? Jeez. Josh Penry was spot on when he called udall out due to his short reid leash. The rest of Hugenburg’s commentary is total democrat crapola. Just throw out any old thing regardless of fact and scream the loudest. Udall however, like bennet, are frantically searching for a rock to crawl under. For now hiding out is their best action.

Apparently, ad hominum (“at the person”) assertions (i.e., mischaracterizing me as “a died in the wool democrat”) passes for rational discourse in Jerry Sanders’ circles, but constitutes species #1 of twenty fallacious arguments and rhetorical devices enumerated in Carl Sagan’s “baloney detection toolkit” (see:  The Demon Haunted World:  Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996)) and common employed by people who don’t even know that they don’t know what they’re talking about (e.g., Jerry Sanders and Josh Penry).

For the record, as a former military officer and corporate executive, I was once actually a Republican (and did not vote for Jimmy Carter).  However, after 1980, I was troubled by Ronald Reagan’s fiscal policies – which ran counter to everything I thought I’d learned about economics at the Universities of Michigan and Chicago—and questioned whether George Bush Sr. was correct in disparaging Reagan’s theories as “Voodoo Economics”. 

After taking a graduate economics course at TCU had reading David Stockman’s book (head of Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget), I concluded that Bush was right. Moreover, after Reagan’s profligate deficit spending tripled the national debt while he was preaching “fiscal conservatism”, I became a Democrat because Republicans don’t “practice what they preach” – and instead rely on “fiscal conservatism” as a meaningless mantra to delude the perpetually gullible (apparently including Sanders and Perry).

Moreover, the experience of the Clinton years versus the George Bush Jr. years clearly confirmed that Republicans simply could not be trusted – and proved that responsible Democrats have become demonstrably more “fiscally conservative” than irresponsible Republicans.  Nevertheless, Republicans continued to espouse “supply side” (voodoo) economics through two presidential elections – and were twice rejected by the voters.

Meanwhile, President Obama inherited the largest national debt and the largest annual budget deficit in our history, but has reduced annual deficits faster than any of his Republican predecessors.  Thus, even if Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter deserved the label   “tax and spend liberals”, since 1980 Republicans have become “deficit spending liars”.
While Sanders may not grasp the connection, Reagan, the Bushes, Romney, Ryan, Cruz, and Penry belong to the same circus of “snake oil salesmen” pitching economic idiocy.

Moreover, contrary to Penry’s fact-free claim, Ted Cruz – not Harry Reid – “has become the most toxic leader in American politics”, and 64% of Americans polled believe that John Boehner should resign as Speaker.  As our Constitution anticipated, Senators Reid and McConnell earned well-deserved credit for fashioning a deal the House could buy.

Who is Hugenburg to decide who the most “toxic leader in America is?” I personally can think of MANY others ahead of him. Is he hung up on Cruz for some reason? Cruz is from Texas. My statement was dyed not died. The real fact is government is broken. Although I am registered as a republican I want ALL incumbents out. Rather than all the crapola about how “challenging the map” is for democrat party in 2014 it is about time that the government realizes who they work for. It is not their damned party. Period. I could give a goose for any of these incumbents. One need only review Steve Kroft’s report on 60 Minutes of 20 Oct 2012 to see just how crooked ALL of these elected “workers of the people” really are. Hugenberg might request his monies back that he invested in his economics education. I think he was robbed. Evidenced by his belief that America is not in dire financial trouble. Furthermore my interest in why he picked his political party is…...I am not interested. And I still do not find the relevance in re-hashing, Clinton, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Bush, Nixon, Ike and on and on and on. Our government is out of control and needs fixing. Period. Democrat nor Republican parties appear incapable. Their interests appear to lie in their personal wealth at the expense of selling out America.

Because I didn’t “decide” that Ted Cruz “is the most toxic political leader in America” – recent polling outside Sanders’ circle of self-inflicted “bubbleheads” and the Houston Chronicle (which repudiated its previous endorsement of Cruz) did.  Thus, the pertinent question is:  Who is Josh Penry to ignore that evidence and “decide” that Harry Reid is?

Because Sanders is apparently the prisoner of his bubble’s belief in the false equivalency between anti-government Republicans’ actual responsibility for the dysfunction of our government and pro-government Democrats whom they seek to falsely blame for that dysfunction, he joins the 64% of Americans who would “want ALL incumbents out” – because they lack the necessary information and/or intellectual capacity to differentiate between those who are causing the dysfunction and those who seek to overcome it.

Sanders then resorts to #18 of the twenty fallacious arguments and rhetorical devices enumerated in Carl Sagan’s “baloney detection toolkit” (see:  The Demon Haunted World:  Science as a Candle in the Dark (1996)) and common employed by people who don’t even know that they don’t know what they’re talking about (e.g., Jerry Sanders and Josh Penry) – the “straw man argument” – by disingenuously distorting my purported “belief that America is not in dire financial trouble”.

Rather, most credible economists concur that America’s “financial trouble” is indeed real (particularly in the future), but not currently so “dire” as to justify abandonment of all the fiscal tools successfully proven by Democrats to be capable of improving that situation in order to recycle the already discredited fiscal policies—still propounded by Republicans after 30 years of abject failure—which got us into this situation in the first place.

Therefore, Sanders also employees #11 of the twenty fallacious arguments and rhetorical devices enumerated in Sagan’s “baloney detection toolkit” – the “non sequitur”.  Sanders misinformed paranoid panic about imminent catastrophe makes no sense, and doesn’t logically follow from Penry’s puerile “sandwich solution”—the whole point of which is that the problem is not so “dire” that it couldn’t be solved by a few “quick fixes”, if only Democrats would “negotiate”.

However, the proven fiscal solutions advocated by President Obama require increased revenues to invest in accelerated economic growth (not more austerity and/or tax cuts for the wealthy), but Republicans – whose mantra was “jobs, jobs, jobs” – obstinately refuse to even consider raising revenues necessary to fund the investments needed to actually “create jobs” and thereby promote more rapid economic expansion.  Instead, applying common sense to distinguish their words from their deeds, they seem intent on inflicting even more damage on the economy, making their purported goal even harder to achieve.

That is correct, I haven’t the intellectual capacity. I do however have the capacity to know a bag of hot air espousing, hillary, hussein, pelosi, feinstein, boxer, jackson, waters, etc ad infinitum crap. I just know that I need not attempt to put everything in a box of this or that. I do know that your intellectual spittance is nothing more than hussein trash. As far as your military experience I will put mine against yours. Heck with the polling. Hugenburg is nothing more than a bag of hot air. Attempting to reside in house of crap constructed by crooks. We all know that polling data is subjective. Furthermore who should we keep if not firing them all? One cannot fix stupid. Get er done.

So, there you have it—Sanders’ superior military experience equates to more reliable opinions on public policy and entitles him to denigrate those who are currently (not “long ago in some far away land”)and sworn to similarly support/defend the Constitution.

But, it turns out that the American people agree with both of us.  A recent CNN poll found that—while 64% would reject all Congressional incumbents—75% would throw only Republican incumbents out, while 52% would do the same for Democrats.

Of course, since “all polls are subjective”, Sanders would rely on a sample-size of 1 (Penry or himself), while I am gratified that an increasingly larger segment of the public at large is more discerning.

Touche Mr. Hugenburg. By the by I only brought up my military record as it appeared that in some fashion you deemed it a necessity.

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