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Why Should the Public Trust Republicans With Power?

House Republicans once again fail to fight their way out of a wet paper bag:

House Republican leaders canceled a planned Tuesday night vote on a Boehner-backed proposal to resolve the debt and budget crises hanging over the U.S., but the dramatic news was met with shrugs and snorts. Facing a critical test, having brought the nation to the brink of default, the nation’s top Republican failed to rustle up the votes once again—and the humiliation took nobody by surprise.

As ridiculous as this makes Boehner and the House GOP look, it is an acceptable outcome for the rest of us. Having forfeited any constructive role in the mess that they helped create, House Republicans will now be left to vote on a Senate deal that avoids the worst consequences of their folly for at least a few months. As Altman and Miller recount, this sort of last-minute dodge has become commonplace over the last two years:

The strategy of accommodation has repeatedly brought Congress to the brink of a dangerous deadline, but never truly over the cliff.

Only once Boehner has placated his base can he step aside and allow Senate leaders to take over the work of governing.

While this is meant as a kind of compliment for Boehner, it is really an indictment of the House Republican majority and its inability to function. The implication is that the House majority cannot do its job, and has to rely on the intervention of the other chamber controlled by the opposing party to save it from its own blundering. This “works” only in the sense that it avoids the worst consequences of the House majority’s pointless and destructive behavior. As long as this remains the way that Congress “works” for at least the next two years, the U.S. will lurch from one absurd deadline to the next with little chance of any improvement.

Josh Barro draws the unflattering but obvious conclusion:

There is no serious argument for Republican governance right now, even if you prefer conservative policies over liberal ones. These people are just too dangerously incompetent to be trusted with power.

After watching the display of the last few weeks, it is hard to argue that Republicans should have control over any part of the government. It is even harder to believe that they should increase what control they have.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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