It’s annoying that David Brooks begins his column with effusive praise for the prospective Congressional debt deal, which massively cuts spending while providing token revenues. Thankfully, that’s only prelude to a devastating attack on today’s Republican Party:
But to members of this movement, tax levels are everything. Members of this tendency have taken a small piece of economic policy and turned it into a sacred fixation. They are willing to cut education and research to preserve tax expenditures. Manufacturing employment is cratering even as output rises, but members of this movement somehow believe such problems can be addressed so long as they continue to worship their idol. […]
If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right.
There are two extremely frustrating things about today’s media environment as it relates to the Republican Party. The first, as the Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen described over the weekend, is the extent to which the media have simply forgotten the previous decade of GOP rule. For at least four years, Republicans governed with few obstacles to their agenda, securing tax cuts, wars, unfunded new entitlements and continued deregulation. The results were trillions of dollars in wasted spending, trillions more in lost revenue, deep dysfunction on nearly every level of government and an economic crisis of nearly world-historical proportions. Despite this, media elites continue to treat the Republican Party—and the architects of its disastrous party—as credible voices on public policy, as if 2001 to 2008 never happened.
The other is the extent to which media outlets treat current Republican behavior as politics-as-usual, despite the extraordinary nature of their actions. Simply put, this is the first time in American history that a political party has threatened to default on the nation’s debt and sabotage the global economy on the basis of narrow ideological goals. With that said, it’s refreshing to see Brooks—who is close to the apotheosis of a Beltway pundit—finger the GOP for its extremism and economic brinksmanship, rather than treating the whole affair like a particularly interesting game of polo.