The Cuckoo Caucus

There is a new group in town – that's ready to take the country over the cliff.

I am not talking about the Tea Party members of the House — the Michele Bachmanns, Steve Kings and Joe Wilsons, and 50 or so others who are members of the Tea Party Caucus. I am talking about the Senate, the greatest deliberative body.

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Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) seem intent on shutting down the government unless ObamaCare is defunded. They also don’t want the nation to pay its bills unless they get radical concessions on spending. In short, they are willing to continue to threaten to push the nation over the fiscal brink.

Obviously, Democrats are rolling their eyes, with a “here we go again” look. They remember the government shutdown of 1995, when then-Speaker Newt Gingrich got his head handed to him. They remember all the cost, political and financial, that occurred when Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling in 2011. Obstruction and gridlock are not a useful strategy.

Emboldened with Congress’s 15 percent approval rating (pardon the sarcasm), the Republican “Cuckoo Caucus” is intent on standing in the doorway of progress on the economy.

The surprise over these last few days is how strong many Republican members have been in opposing the “Cuckoo Caucus” on both substantive and political grounds.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) called Lee’s threat of blocking a continuing resolution that would keep the government open “the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard of.” 

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) called efforts to defund ObamaCare in this manner “dishonest” and ‘hype.” A noted fiscal hawk, Coburn says he would “love to defund it ... but it will not work.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said it was “foolish” not to fund the government. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) called it “terror politics.”Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) referred to it as “shenanigans.”

Finally, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said: “The only way Republicans will lose the House is to shut down the government or default on the debt ... it makes you look politically irresponsible.”

Could it be that we are beginning to see a small ray of sanity coming from Republicans in response to those who seem intent on taking down the economy through government gridlock and shutdown? Could it be that many conservatives are finally standing up to the extreme elements of the party? 

Color me naïve, but my sincere hope is that the “Cuckoo Caucus” will go the way of the dinosaurs and we can return to a Congress with something substantially higher approval rating.