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Republicans like to tell stores about being “fiscal conservatives” who oppose irresponsible spending. They’ve managed in the process to impede economic growth while successfully fighting off efforts to cut that large segment of our irresponsible spending which takes the form of subsidies to highly profitable industries like Big Oil, Big Agriculture, and big what-have-you – which big entities often happen, in turn, to be very generous when it comes time to fund political campaigns.  

Nowhere, though does GOP hypocrisy show through more than in the recent budget and debt level negotiations. The Washington Post‘s Wonkblog today identifies the members of the exclusively Republican “default caucus,” made up of the 135 representatives and 17 senators who voted first for the omnibus spending bill, and then against raising the debt limit that would pay for it. They essentially decided that the United States should not pay the bills that they themselves had voted to run up. Try doing that at home, Mr. and Mrs. Average American. As Wonkblog’s Christopher Ingraham puts it, “the fact a significant faction in Congress can vote to run up debt, refuse to pay for it, and bill themselves as “fiscal conservatives” shows just how much that term has lost its meaning.”

I would suggest that a better label than “default caucus” for these lawmakers would be “deadbeat caucus.” That, after all, is what we call folks who don’t want to pay their bills. There are several members of the deadbeat caucus from Missouri:

Senator Roy Blunt (R)

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-2)

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-3)

Rep. Vickky Hartzler (R-4)

Rep. Sam Graves (R-6)

You can click on the names of Representatives listed above that have links to go to their press releases designed to tell us why voting for the spending bill they later refused to fund was such a good idea – not that they mention anything about the relationship between the two votes. I think that they hope we won’t figure that one out. Sam Graves simply ignores his yea vote on the omnibus funding bill, but did issue a statement patting himself on the back for voting against the extension of the debt limit. His reason for the nay note? He somehow seems to think that the debt limit extension vote is the place to cut the spending he approved in the earlier vote. So what do  you think? Are they all dumb as posts? Or cynical panderers? Whatever else they are, they’re certainly willing to play fast and loose with the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government – along with our welfare.

Ingraham allows as how those folks who voted against both the spending bill and the debt limit hike necessary to accommodate it should at least be admired for their consistency. And they are consistent, but you might temper your admiration when you remember that it stems from a totally nutty and discredited conception of economics, to wit, austerian theories that these folks probably don’t even understand apart from platitudes abut the “free market” and the evils of “big government.” Nothing but extreme economic ignorance coupled with total irresponsibility could explain their willingness to risk the disastrous consequences of default on the debt. Consequently, in recognition of the harm they do to us all, I’d like to label these folks the “nutjob caucus.” (You’re probably all aware that many members of the deadbeat caucus are, on other occasions, only too happy to claim membership in the nutjob caucus.) In Missouri, the members of the budgetary nutjob caucus includes:

Rep. Billy Long (R-7)

Re. Jason Smith (R-8)

So what do we call congresspeople who swallowed some of the bitter pills in the omnibus bill (cuts to food stamps, anyone?) in the interest of breaking gridlock and staving off another expensive government shutdown, and then, like responsible adults, voted to extend the debt limit to pay for the spending they had just authorized? Real legislators – you know, the people who are doing the hard job of governing without temper  tantrums. And it also looks like this time around we call them Democrats – including Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who didn’t vote on the omnibus spending bill for whatever reason – maybe a few of those bitter pills were just too bitter – but came through when it was time to raise the debt limit and honor the spending decisions that his colleagues, including many in the GOP delegation, had already made.