Would it be accurate to say that there are now two Republican parties – at least in the House – on the subject of fiscal policy? The Republican caucus is split, and I don’t see this healing without one group bringing the other around to its perspective. The – for lack of a better name – “Continuity” Republicans aren’t likely to want to challenge the President and the Democrats on basic funding priorities and thus aren’t going to be willing to do anything serious about our debt and deficit problems until the crisis is so overwhelming that both parties will have to take it on together. We aren’t there yet so don’t expect much from the Continuity Republicans. Moreover, they want to appear to be the serious party willing to compromise. We’ve seen where that gets us – a bill that actually makes things worse!
“Change” Republicans want to challenge the basic fundamentals at the heart of our system but are a minority party given where the country is right now (tax the rich, don’t cut entitlements, kick the can down the road) and the basic political numbers (the combination of Dem members + Continuity Republican members). However, they are principled enough that they will defect on compromises like the recent fiscal cliff deal. This actually empowers the Dems since they then become the more “reasonable” partner for the Continuity Republicans. Depressing!