My post last Friday was prompted by the scheduled appearance of both David Stockman and Paul Krugman on This Week with George Stephanop0lis two days ago. Just as I thought, the aforementioned pair of fiscal authorities could agree upon little. The points of difference deserve consideration, but there is no need to rush. If you’d like to see that discussion again or for the first time, it can be found clicking here.
Displacing that discussion today is that of gun control legislation, which is the hot topic in the Senate this week. You probably have heard that families of the Newtown victims have flown to Washington aboard Air Force One to lobby for gun legislation, something they did very successfully to toughen Connecticut gun laws. They will be visiting Senators with photos of their slain children and…. well, I don’t know, but I figure we’ll see some dramatic confrontations on the news.
I imagine the Newtown folks will concentrate their efforts on 14 or 15 Republican Senators who have threatened to filibuster any gun legislation that Speaker Reed will bring up, though it is not clear at the moment exactly what that legislation will be. For one thing, Pat Toomey (R) and Joe Manchin (D) are still working on some compromise on background checks. If they can agree, perhaps some deal can be reached. Perhaps, but then let’s not forget there is still the Republican dominated House to deal with, the place where bills go to die.
So, why are 14 or 15 Republican Senators threatening to filibuster legislation that even if passed in the Senate will require a miracle to get through the House? That’s what some Republicans/conservatives , such as Senator John McCain and columnist Charles Krauthammer, have puzzled over. “What are they afraid of?” McCain has asked of his fellow Republican Senators.
Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post provides part of the answer when noting “Of the 14 (senatorial) seats that Republicans are defending in 2014, just one — Maine — is in a state that President Obama won in 2012.” Given their constituents, allowing any air for gun control to breathe now might negatively impact their chances of winning their primaries in 2014. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell is one of those who are up for reelection and has threatened to filibuster.
On the other hand, stifling gun control debate will further the image of Republicans as the party that is inflexible and unwilling to compromise, an image that some in the party are trying to reconstruct. Given the roughly 90% national approval rating for improved background checks, it is not clear to me that dodging the gun control issue today will be as helpful in 2014 as these candidates seem to believe.
But the drama is just beginning, so let’s take our seats and watch.