JONATHAN CHAIT NOVEMBER 30, 2010
John Boehner and Mitch McConnell say the election proves the American people favor the hard-line Republican agenda on everything:
When congressional leaders of both parties meet at the White House today, all of us will have an opportunity to show the American people that we got the message of the elections earlier this month.
Republicans heard the voters loud and clear. They want us to focus on preventing a tax hike on every taxpayer, reining in Washington spending and making it easier for employers to start hiring again. Today, Republican leaders renew our offer to work with anyone, from either party, who is ready to focus on the priorities of the American people.
The day after the election, President Obama seemed to acknowledge that a change in course is needed when he conceded that "the overwhelming message" he heard from the voters was "we want you to focus completely on jobs and the economy."
Despite what some Democrats in Congress have suggested, voters did not signal they wanted more cooperation on the Democrats' big-government policies that most Americans oppose. On the contrary, they want both parties to work together on policies that will help create the conditions for private-sector job growth. They want us to stop the spending binge, cut the deficit and send a clear message on taxes and regulations so small businesses can start hiring again.
This is so deep into the realm of spin it's not worth evaluating as a normative claim. (When Democrats win elections, Republicans say that the message is that they should enact the agenda of the Republican base; when Republicans win elections, they say the message is that they should enact the agenda of the Republican base.) What's interesting is that the Republican leaders are not bothering to even feign interest in cooperation. And of course this makes perfect sense. The GOP's interest as a party is to refrain from giving President Obama any bipartisan accomplishments he could use to help win reelection. And Boehner and McConnell's interests as party leaders is to avoid the perception that they're too cozy with Obama, which is the only real threat to their power.
In any case, there's not much point in pretending that the parties might cooperate on anything.