Readers of a certain age may be familiar with a fellow named J. Wellington Wimpy and his famous promise that “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” What you may not be aware of is that Mr. Wimpy is the senior strategic advisor to Republican Congressional leadership.
Wimpy’s appointment is the only way to explain the terrible Export Import Bank deal that leadership duped many conservatives and Republicans into accepting as part of this week’s bill to fund the federal government and our war in Syria. Wimpy’s play was a stroke of genius.
Using his time-honored strategy, he substituted an appeal for their votes for his normal request for hamburger and a promise to really totally shut down the Export Import Bank next year for his normal promise of payment on Tuesday. With this simple trick, Wimpy has executed a ruse grander than any of his previous frauds to purloin ground beef.
Some context might be helpful. Others have written lengthy and persuasive discussions of the need to shut down the Export-Import Bank. The justification doesn’t need to be rehashed here. Heck, even Representative Kevin McCarthy upon the realization of his elevation to Majority Leader commented, “I think Ex-Im Bank is … something government does not have to be involved in. The private sector can do it.”
All leadership had to do to put this terrible program to an end was – nothing. The Export Import Bank was scheduled to expire on its own.
Instead in a fit of hysterical bed-wetting when the President rolled out his well-worn strategy of linking any a noun, a verb, and “shut-down” the Republican Leadership scrambled to respond with a strategy to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Rep. Wimpy to the rescue.
The Wimpy plan was simple. He would convince conservatives that when Republicans take the House and Senate majority in the next election they’re really totally going to shut down the Export Import Bank (the Tuesday clause.) All they needed from conservatives was their votes and a commitment not to put up a fight on the Continuing Resolution (the Hamburger Clause). Without nary a peep from conservatives, the Wimpy plan was deployed.
It was of course a terrible deal. Much like Wimpy’s promised payment on Tuesday, the Republican leadership’s support for abolishing the Export Import Bank is never going to materialize. The President knows that Republican Leadership will fold like a cheap lawn chair if he even hints in the same direction as a shutdown or veto fight. There will be some must pass legislative vehicle that Ex-Im Bank supporters demand reauthorization be attached to, and since leadership actually does support the bank, it will happily acquiesce.
They’ll explain their supposedly reluctant acquiescence on needing to pass some vital piece of legislation and not wanting to tarnish the Presidential candidate and our “brand.” But believe you me, when Republicans retake the White House, Leadership’s totally going to pay for those hamburgers!
Republican Leadership squandered one of the greatest chances it likely will ever have to shut down the Export Import Bank. Had they sent the President a government and war funding bill, but did not include extension of the Export Import Bank in the bill, the President would have surely signed the bill. Does anyone really believe that the President and Harry Reid would have been so brazen as to deny funding for a war effort against terrorists just to protect cut-rate loans for Boeing’s customers? I doubt it, but maybe they would have. Regardless it is a pretty weak hand to play and Republicans could have carried the day – had they shown up to fight.
But sadly, Republican Leadership takes congressional conservatives for fools – and with good reason – every Tuesday they act surprised that J. Wellington Wimpy didn’t pay for his burgers. Until conservatives stop falling for the same lame promises, Rep. Wimpy’s behavior isn’t going to change and the nation is going to suffer.