For years, Republicans have adhered fiercely to their bedrock conservative principles, resisting Democratic calls for tax hikes, comprehensive immigration reform and gun control. Now, seven weeks after an electoral drubbing, some party leaders and rank-and-file alike are signaling a willingness to bend on all three issues.I don't know if this is wishful thinking or willful ignorance, but however you look at it, the notion that Republicans are signaling some sort of newfound willingness to compromise is just nonsense.
What long has been a nonstarter for Republicans — raising tax rates on wealthy Americans — is now backed by GOP House Speaker John Boehner in his negotiations with President Barack Obama to avert a potential fiscal crisis. Party luminaries, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have started calling for a wholesale shift in the GOP's approach to immigration after Hispanic voters shunned Republican candidates. And some Republicans who previously championed gun rights now are opening the door to restrictions following a schoolhouse shooting spree earlier this month.
On taxes, John Boehner hasn't endorsed raising taxes. Instead, he's said Republicans should be willing to cut taxes on income below $1 million without simultaneously cutting taxes on income above $1 million. You could argue he's changed the threshold at which Republicans will hold tax cuts hostage, but that's not the same thing as supporting tax hikes. Despite the modesty of Boehner's tax cut plan, House Republicans were so furious that he couldn't even bring it to a vote. If that signals a willingness to bend, Lord help us all.
On immigration, Bobby Jindal hasn't suddenly become the poster-child for reform. It's true he did say that Republicans had made "offensive" and "bizarre" comments on immigration and other issues during the campaign, but he didn't embrace an overhaul of immigration policies.
He said the border needed to be secured but dodged repeated questions about whether he supports giving those in the country illegally a path to permanent residence or wants them deported.Again, if that's an example of Republican compromise—punting plus being willing to listen—then maybe compromise isn't all it's cracked up to be.
On what could be a litmus test issue in a future GOP primary, he effectively punted to Obama.
“I think the president has said he wants to present a comprehensive approach; I think we as a party need to hear what he has to say and offer our ideas.”
But if taxes and immigration aren't examples of a more flexible GOP, what about gun control? According to the article, it is, and their first example of GOP congressman Jack Kingston:
"Put guns on the table. Also, put video games on the table. Put mental health on the table," Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., said last week.True, Kingston did say "put guns on the table." But then the rest of his interview was an extended argument against gun control and why gun control won't work. Whatever you think about gun control, suggesting that Kingston was seriously opening himself up to the possibility of gun control is pure fantasy. He was doing the exact opposite.
I know a lot of people wish Republicans were more flexible, but giving the GOP credit for showing flexibility when they really haven't will merely strengthen their resolve to remain obstinate. Maybe one day it'll be fair to say Republicans have become the party of yes, but for now their impulse towards obstruction remains as strong as ever.