Apparently Paul Ryan and John Bohner, who seemingly are interested in retiring.
Had an interesting conference call with a number of Tea Party folk this morning, the group that the former Congressman and former Speaker have dismissed as the “hard right.” As always happens when I speak to Tea Party folk, I’m reminded that the difference between the Tea Party and the main line Republican party is not just one of degree but one of absolute political philosophy. By way of example, want to know what is driving the Tea Party batty about the budget deal? It isn’t Obamacare, and it isn’t entitlements–its 84 Billion for Afghanistan. And when push comes to shove, what Boehner is dismissing as the Hard Right is really in parity with the Hard Left, which also views excessive military spending as a drain on real core functions. And we don’t have to get into what those functions really are. Its not the Tea Party that’s out of touch–its the mainline Republican Party. This war is now firmly Obama’s War, not W’s war, and it grinds on and on and on, and its war spending that is killing us, not entitlements. And this is where the frustration with Bohner and Ryan emerges–this is a fight between the Tea Party which is increasingly isolationist and the mainliners, who continue to espouse NeoCon liberal interventionism.
Push comes to shove, the primary fights that are coming in 2014 are more stark that the Republican Party wants to admit. Its not about the procedure of the shut down, or really about the failure of Obamacare, which are common issues, but rather about budget cuts that can be met by cutting items that don’t benefit the American people, like Obama’s costly wars–Afghanistan, the War on Terror, the War on Drugs, the Drone War. The NSA over reaches. Do we need boots on the ground in 119 countries? What Ryan did not do, and this is where the sequester was beloved, was put deep enough Pentagon cuts on the table to match desired cuts in social spending.
The soul of the Republican Party is not cleanly divided between military/social spending program–its about more specific national priorities. And the good news is that Ryan and Bohner will have plenty of time to explain to their constituents why government is growing notwithstanding a Republican controlled house.