The GOP's Calvinball World
So how are Republicans handling their return to power? Ezra Klein points to two telling examples today. First, we have the awesome spectacle of the GOP complaining that Democrats are thwarting the will of the people by refusing to allow an up-or-down vote in the Senate for repeal of healthcare reform. "Seriously?" asks Ezra, after picking his jaw up off the floor. "After mounting a record-breaking number of filibusters in recent years and screaming bloody murder when Democrats sought extremely modest changes in the practice, Republicans are now demanding up-or-down votes in the Senate?"
Yes, seriously. It's a new day in DC! Next up is the Congressional Budget Office, which has long been accepted as a neutral arbiter of the cost of new legislation. They're not always right, but everyone has accepted their conclusions as the best nonpartisan estimates available. Until now, that is, when bashing the CBO is suddenly the only way to make healthcare reform look bad:
They have claimed, as Doug Holtz-Eakin, Joseph Antos and James Capretta do in today's Wall Street Journal, that the CBO's work is now the product of "budget gimmicks, deceptive accounting, and implausible assumptions used to create the false impression of fiscal discipline." They have created a separate world for themselves when it comes to this bill, a world where there are no accepted estimates except the ones they choose to accept (notably, they regularly mention the CBO results that they think help their case), where there is no neutral arbiter who can be relied on to set the premises of the debate, and thus, where policy debate is not really possible.
This is especially notable since Republicans aren't just disagreeing with the CBO, they're flat out lying about a lot of its conclusions. I haven't gotten around to blogging about this before, but Ezra did a useful point-by-point takedown here, and today's post is a good followup. It's a pretty thorough takedown of the fanciful Calvinball world that Republicans live in these days. They believe what they believe, and they've set things up so that no evidence is ever allowed to contradict what they believe. And now they're in charge of half of Congress once again. Happy days.