Up Front

The Question

What will be Speaker Boehner's first change to the House?

"Make the Pelosi-created breast-feeding room cigar-friendly." -- Ryan Grim, Huffington Post

"A silver Kleenex dispenser for the speaker at all microphones for when he becomes emotional about the prospect of ending tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy." -- Gerald Sindell, author

"House gallery retrofitted with luxury skyboxes for lobbyists." -- David Halperin, Campus Progress

Parody by T.A. Frank

ELEVEN FOR 2011: HEADLINES FOR THE NEW YEAR

John Boehner Weeps

So does nation

Having defeated Sharron Angle, Harry Reid resumes post as Senate majority leader

Every silver lining has a cloud, analysts point out.

Republican Congress investigates everything -- EVERYTHING -- about White House

"Feels like old times," say GOP leaders.

Terrorist fails to blow up Penn Station with exploding nipple

Public relief over arrest mingled with regret over survival of Penn Station.

Republican Congress declares war on China, Iran, and the EU

GOP leaders: "Enough bitching. Let's have it out."

Recession really, really over this time, says White House

Chinese start to wonder if cities of empty buildings portend housing bubble

No, officials say. Real estate never goes down.

Yemen almost as effed up as Pakistan, according to new report.

"But both pretty bad," it adds.

Bibi Netanyahu places President Obama in sandwich, eats him

U.S. expresses "disappointment" at Israel's policy.

Democrats shy away from vote to ban puppy stoning

Blue Dogs worry measure could be divisive before election.

Wall Street demands tax increase on future middle-class Americans and their children's children's children

"We all need to pitch in to pay us," explain financiers.

Dialogue Tea Party's Over

What happens when the anti-government have to govern?

Adam Serwer: So how excited are you about our new anti-big guvmint Republican majority in the House?

Jamelle Bouie: Extremely excited. I can't wait until they begin their small-government crusade of passing agricultural subsidies and lavishing money on rich people.

Adam: My favorite Republican freshman is Andy Harris of Maryland, who didn't even wait to be sworn in before demanding his government-subsidized health care.

Jamelle: To be fair, Republicans never said they were against government-subsidized medicine per se, just that they oppose it for other people.

Adam: Still, on some level, it's got to be a win for liberals that the GOP has gone from claiming Medicare would end freedom to promising not to cut it.

Jamelle: I've been more amused by the Tea Party crusade against earmarks. In their zeal for small government, they want to give up their influence on spending -- and vest more power with the president!

Adam: Right, if they don't use the money, the executive branch gets more control over appropriations funds. I think some Republicans genuinely believe the budget deficit is caused by earmarks.

Jamelle: Oh, definitely. In their minds, the government spends money on earmarks, foreign aid, and benefits for poor people. Nothing else.

Adam: Republicans have really mastered the language of competing American political impulses: Americans hate government spending ... on other people.

Jamelle: Exactly! Would you want to spend your money on lazy indigents?

Adam: Now they're facing the problem of wanting to cut Medicare after having won an election in part by claiming the other guy will cut Medicare. How do you swing that?

Jamelle: You don't have to. The wonderful thing about being in the minority is that no one notices when you don't follow through on your campaign promises. It doesn't matter what the Republicans do; the public won't notice. It's kind of cool, actually.

Adam: I noticed Speaker John Boehner has said that Obama sets the agenda. Nothing says "personal responsibility" like "hey, why don't you do it?"

Jamelle: This is what happens when the agenda-less party gains the reins of power; it doesn't actually know what to do.

Adam: Don't they have an agenda, though? They want to shrink government aid for people who don't "deserve it."

Jamelle: I'm not sure they actually have a plan for shrinking government. Again, outside of eliminating earmarks.

Adam: Well, we can all be satisfied that the community center in Harrisburg will finally be getting its comeuppance. Take that, annual production of Our Town!

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