NYT's Weisman Wonders Why GOP Won't Just Capitulate After Obama Win: "What Are Elections For?"

Betraying his impatience with the Republican Party's insistence that President Obama cut spending, New York Times political reporter Jonathan Weisman sounded shocked that the GOP wasn't simply surrendering its principles in the wake of Obama's four–point victory last November in Monday's "Republicans Determined To Press On With Air, If Not Vote, of Confidence." (Nice flattering photo of Ryan, by the way.)

A year ago this month, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin stood on the floor of the House and declared that the ideals of small government, privatized health care and rigorous spending discipline captured in the budget plan about to pass the House would and should be central to the 2012 election campaign.


Then he and Mitt Romney lost -- Mr. Ryan’s home state, every swing state but North Carolina, and 332 electoral votes. Democrats locked down control of the Senate, which they had once been expected to lose, and chipped away at the Republicans’ House majority, sending the Republican Party into a round of soul-searching that persists today -- everywhere, it seems, but on Capitol Hill.


In Congress, Republicans are pushing an agenda that is almost identical to the one that their party lost with in November, with no regrets and few efforts to reframe it even rhetorically. The House will vote this week on the third iteration of Mr. Ryan’s budget, which would again try to turn Medicare into a subsidy for private insurance purchases, slash the top income tax rate and cut deeply into programs the president campaigned to protect.


On the Sunday political talk shows, a few conciliatory words from rank-and-file Republicans were all but drowned out by the resolute tone of Republican Congressional leaders. Mr. Boehner said on the ABC News program “This Week” that Mr. Obama had harvested the fruits of his election victory on Jan. 1, with a deal that allowed tax rates to rise on annual income over $450,000. That covered a smaller group than the $250,000 threshold the president campaigned on.

“The president got his tax hikes on January the first,” Mr. Boehner said. “The talk about raising revenue is over. It’s time to deal with the spending problem.”

Republicans in the House and Senate are standing firmly in the way of Mr. Obama’s second-term agenda, with a message that is striking when set against the results of an election just four months ago: Mr. President, you have to come to us.

Representative Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, a member of the House Republican leadership, emerged from a closed-door meeting with Mr. Obama last week and declared, “I’m encouraged to have heard from the president today, but more encouraged that perhaps this is an indication he is willing to change course.”

Which raises the question: What are elections for?

“Continuing to double down on policies that have been firmly rejected by the American people flies in the face of everything the Republican Party said they would do in the aftermath of losing the popular vote for the fifth time in the last six elections,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama.

Of course, Republican lawmakers interpret the last election differently. “I think they are claiming too much of a mandate,” said Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota. “Number one, it was a close presidential election. Number two, the Republicans won the House, and they can lay claim to the same mandate. So to me, that’s a wash.”

That turn of phrase, "Of course, Republicans see it differently" is a common formulation for the Times when it wants to portray the GOP position dismissively, as an unnecessary afterthought.