House Republicans aren't just backing away from their unrealistic plan to cut domestic spending by $100 billion in a single year, they also plan on using the "demon pass" to do it. Yes, the same "demon pass" (technically a "self-executing rule" long used in politics) that John Boehner called "the ultimate in Washington power grabs" when the Democrats tried to use it to pass health-care legislation early last year. Maybe its more demonic aspects found Jesus after the War on Christmas? As the new House (now with Republicans!) prepares to take office today, GOP leaders are cutting the $100 billion goal by as much as half, seeing as the fiscal year, which started October 1, will be half over before any spending cuts could become law. To be fair, the federal fiscal year has only started in October since 1976, so how could they have known that back in September when the House Republicans signed their "Pledge to America" stating, “We will roll back government spending to pre-stimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone.” Now that that resolution will put Republicans on record as backing cuts up to 30 percent in law enforcement, transportation, and education, however, the goal posts have been quietly moved.
House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan plans to use the "demon pass" to cut discretionary spending levels since the Democrats didn't pass a budget. But there's also the matter of another GOP promise that's looking less and less realistic the more they face reality: Many of the Republicans' key policy goals will actually increase the deficit. Not to worry, though, they're looking into including a measure in the new rules package that will exempt their priorities — like the health-care repeal bill and the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts — from being considered part of the deficit.
House Republicans aren't the only ones backing away from campaign rhetoric. Now that they're actually in Washington, tea party freshman have wasted little time embracing the culture they once bashed. They're hiring lobbyists to lead their congressional staffs, asking lobbyists for campaign cash, and even hosting events in swanky D.C. hotels, like the California representative Jeff Denham threw at the W hotel for $2,500 a ticket. Leann Rimes performed at the fund-raiser, though probably more for the down-home country appeal than her family values.
After some initial struggle giving up the gavel, even Nancy Pelosi is coming to terms with the harsher realities of political life. After technically losing her title on Monday at noon, last night, she demoted her Twitter handle from @SpeakerPelosi to @NancyPelosi, but not without a little spin, adding that the change was "2 characters less."