Many conservative lawmakers on Capitol Hill are coming out against the proposed 3-week short term CR extension. The press -- ever infatuated with GOP infighting -- wants to write a story about Republican on Republican violence over the issue of whether the abortion and Obamacare riders are attached to the overall bill. And to be sure, there is indeed a significant difference of opinion here between many conservatives and their fellow Republicans in leadership circles on these matters and others.
But the bigger issue is one of courage.
Republicans right now are negotiating from a position of weakness because they are lacking the courage to move to a position of strength.
To have the upper hand in a negotiation, your opponent must know that you are willing to stick with your principles, no matter what. But right now, Democrats are looking at Republicans and they see weakness. They see weakness because time after time Republicans say their number one priority is to avoid a government shutdown -- which is most certainly not a principle. They say this because they believe that a government shutdown is a political loser for them, even if they do nothing to cause it.
They believe it was a loser in 1995, even though they made significant policy gains and faired relatively well in the next election. And they fail to see the world that we live in today, with a 14 trillion dollar debt and spiraling economies, is markedly different than the world of the 1990's. Never mind the fact that Republicans were swept in to the majority in Congress by a wave of Americans who were desperate to see federal spending reined in.
When asked by reporters today on Capitol Hill about conservatives who oppose the short term CR, one of the bill's chief proponents, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), immediately reached for his trump card by saying those conservatives just want to shut down the government.
Wrong. Those conservatives want to do what the American people sent them to Washington to do: cut spending and get government under control. Do they want the government to shutdown? No. But they are not willing to allow liberals like Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to blackmail them in to turning their backs on the American people. In other words, those conservatives are being courageous while the rest of the Washington Establishment seeks to keep their heads down and avoid the limelight.
There is a proverb that says "as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Likewise, as freshmen lawmakers -- fresh of the heels of an historic victory -- and other conservatives in the House and Senate begin to step forward and refuse to be managed, they too will grow stronger. Let's make sure they continue to do so before it is too late.
It is time for Republicans to show courage in the face of the Democrats' tired blackmail tactics. By maintaining their fidelity to the mandate of November 2, Republicans can negotiate from a position of strength and accomplish what they were sent to Washington to do.