Republicans will face a clear choice in 2016: Are they members of the party that destroys the economy accidentally, or on purpose?
In the corner of unintentional destruction, we have the George W. Bush Republicans, represented by Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ).
This week during a fundraising trip in Chicago, the governor seemed to reassure donors that unless he’s in jail or asleep with the fishes, he’s running for president. And he’ll be doing it as a George W. Bush Republican.
“The guy won two national elections,” Christie said. “How easy has that looked the last eight years? He was, first, an outstanding political candidate. And I think he was grossly underappreciated by his own country and his own party as a politician.”
Bush is misunderestimated as a politician? A guy who “won” two elections, one after failing to prevent the largest terrorist attack in American history, then followed it up by invading the wrong country. Bush’s political skill — or his willingness to defer to Karl Rove’s invidious politicization of all things — has never been in doubt. Neither has the complete yet likely unintentional failure of his governance, which cost his party the Congress, then the White House.
But praising Bush the politician is a canny move for Christie, who would compete with Jeb Bush both for donors and positioning as the “business Republican” bent on deregulating everything while stimulating the military-industrial-financial complex with tax cuts and deficit spending. That’s if the former governor of Florida decides to run, which the governor of New Jersey is obviously hoping to dissuade him from doing.
Christie has led New Jersey to a “curiously weak economy” but enthralled his party’s funders by lowering property taxes on the rich to do so. This has pleased so many billionaires that more than a month into a scandal that has destroyed any bipartisan veneer he once promised, he still has been taken as seriously as any Republican candidate for president can be.
The party’s other big dog made his latest GOP primary move this week by forcing a dozen or so of his fellow Republican senators to act responsibly when it came to not intentionally forcing America into a full economic collapse. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) filibustered a clean bill to raise the debt limit, forcing his colleagues to be responsible in public by doing something they’ve spent the last four years equating with treason.
Cruz decided that the GOP’s passion for threatening economic default could not be abandoned so easily, even after House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had crumbled so quickly that Democrats were willing to help them Dustbuster their mess up.
Cruz’s desire to extract painful concessions in exchange for raising the debt limit as Republicans did dozens of times after George W. Bush blew the surplus was first popularized in 2011 by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who also broke with his party’s leadership to vote for not paying for bills due on the spending in the budget he just negotiated.