The White House is losing its grip because it’s losing its moderates.
This today in a very thoughtful article in the Washington Post today by Jonathan Weisman and Jeffrey Birnbaum:
“I’m inclined to support the Republican Party, but the question becomes, how much other stuff do I have to put up with to maintain that identification?” asked Andrew A. Samwick, a Dartmouth College economics professor who until recently was chief economist of Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers.
“I don’t know a single business group involved in the judicial nominees,” said R. Bruce Josten, an executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Nada, none, zip.”
A group of senators announced last night that they had reached a compromise designed to avert a showdown over the judicial nominees.
Economic conservatives grew restless during the first Bush term, when federal budget surpluses turned to yawning deficits, federal spending soared and the Republican-controlled Congress passed a Medicare drug benefit that marked the largest new federal entitlement since Lyndon B. Johnson was president.
Concern eased after the 2004 election. The president’s stated priorities were to control spending, address Social Security’s long-term financing problems and simplify the tax code. But since then, the drive to restructure Social Security has stalled. Efforts to rein in federal spending have been upended by a highway bill that exceeds Bush’s promised price tag and a budget resolution passed Congress that rebuffed the toughest entitlement cuts demanded by the White House.
Instead, Washington’s focus has shifted from fiscal issues to more narrow concerns backed vociferously by social conservatives: the Terri Schiavo case, the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations and, most of all, the fate of the Senate’s ability to filibuster judicial nominees.
TWN has shared this view for some time.
— Steve Clemons