Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 31, 2009

ABOUT THAT ALTERNATIVE GOP BUDGET.... There were, we were told, two main reasons for Republican lawmakers to present an alternative budget. In the face of near-constant criticism from the White House and Democratic leaders on the Hill, the GOP's first goal was to prove that it had serious, credible ideas of its own. Republicans then said they wanted to demonstrate that the government could re-embrace fiscal responsibility, pursuing goals while reducing the deficit.

So far, the minority party is failing badly in both categories.

The first point quickly fell apart when Republicans unveiled a budget with no numbers in it. The second point isn't looking any better.

Last week, the House GOP presented its alternative budget proposal. Members of the media, including conservative commentators, widely panned the document for being scant on details and appearing more as "campaign-style talking points." Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, has said he will release yet another budget proposal, but this time with more specifics.

Though Ryan has been most critical of the deficit impact of Obama's budget, he has been unable to assess the deficit impact of his own budget. After being repeatedly asked this weekend by Bloomberg's Al Hunt about "how large" the deficit would be under the Republican plan, Ryan finally respond, "A lot."

This is only marginally better than Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who stammered and stumbled last week when pressed on how big the deficit would be under the Republican plan.

Remember, according to Republican lawmakers, the principal criticism of the Obama administration's budget is that it runs large deficits in the short term. In response, the GOP proposes a massive tax cut for everyone earning more than $100,000, a deficit that would be "a lot," and has not (or cannot) offer any details on the proposal itself.

At the same time, we have one leading Republican senator saying the party is "working very hard" to produce a budget "with numbers" in it, while another leading Republican senator says the caucus won't bother to produce a document at all.

Can't anybody here play this game?

The GOP really didn't think this one through.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (14)

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All the R's are doing is proving what a bunch of stupid, bloviating empty suits they really are. If any of them knew how to roll up their sleeves and work for the interests of the country....oh yeah, they wouldn't be Republican.

'It is better to remain quiet and thought stupid than to speak and remove all doubt'.

Posted by: jcricket on March 31, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

There is nothing new about this. Politicians who want to claim that they are fiscally responsible have always been able to provide hits lists of specific projects which look "wasteful" and do not have wide public support, but have never followed through with the numbers showing any significant effect on the budget. McCain did this before and after the election. It's actually remarkable that the media noticed the absence of numbers this time.

Posted by: skeptonomist on March 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

"I'm working on it! Get off my back!"

Posted by: Personal Failure on March 31, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

RepuG advisors are frantically searching for "new" terms, such as " a whole bunch more or less, for sure, for sure". Shame the RepuGs cut funding for articulation from the Head Start Young Americans for Freedom program.

Posted by: berttheclock on March 31, 2009 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Can't anybody here play this game?

Well, the game has changed - we've shifted back to a reality-based politics, and away from a fear-based one. Not long ago, actual numbers didn't matter, what mattered was how loudly and repeatedly you made your claim, not how you could back it up. If the battle is about ambiguous things like 'terrists' and how much you do or do not hate America, winning takes different skills.

This game where there is math stuff, and a bias toward a variety of objective measurements and statistics, (as opposed to numbers they can make up at will) that's hard for them. They are used to being in an environment where they couldn't be proven wrong. Now they have to try and prove themselves right.

Most of them are still struggling with this whole concept of "proof" in the first place. No wonder they aren't good at it.

It will be amusing to see what happens when Ryan's budget shows that their own proposals are worse than Obama's.

Posted by: biggerbox on March 31, 2009 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

The GOP phantom budget is an extension of Roverian media manipulation, and an attempt to capture a few news cycles. Only Rove was much better at it than these half-wits. Exactly who they think, other than their Bimbaugh-worshipping base, pays any attention to silly simplistic nonsense like this is a mystery.

Posted by: Rich on March 31, 2009 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

The serious point here is that we need a viable opposition party, one that can pick apart dishonesty in the ruling party's discourse and enforce reality. Unfortunately the GOP is utterly unsuited to playing this role, and as much as I love the Dems, they are human and won't avoid corruption and hubris without a political counterweight.

If the GOP can't play the role of a legitimate opposition (which I think they are too far gone to do), we need them to shrivel into irrelevancy and get out of the way.

Posted by: jimBOB on March 31, 2009 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

With all the think tanks they have, you might think they would have a few ideas. Maybe it's time for the Republicans to merely abandon their core ideology. Admit conservatism failed despite 28 years of honing it.

Posted by: Danp on March 31, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

"Can't anybody here play this game?"

The Mets were 40-120 that year. That is, they won a quarter of the time.

When this group of Republicans start winning a quarter of the time, the comparison will be apt. Until then, you owe the '62 Mets an apology.

Posted by: Robert Earle on March 31, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Ditto to everyone here, this is a great thread.

In regard to the Republican thinktanks that DanP mentioned, it's important to remember that they were set up for only two purposes:

1) To serve as cheerleaders and enablers of the neocon agenda, and

2) To provide a source of wingnut welfare so no rightwinger would ever have to do any actual work.

No wonder we never hear from them these days when a little thinking would really come in handy. That was never their mission in the first place.

Posted by: Curmudgeon on March 31, 2009 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it is very fitting to compare them with the fielding percentage of Marv Throneberry, of whom, Stengel once said, "I would have given him a birthday cake, but, he would have dropped it"

Posted by: berttheclock on March 31, 2009 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

It will be amusing to see what happens when Ryan's budget shows that their own proposals are worse than Obama's.

It depends on who's doing the calculating. Republican mathematicians have always been claiming that tax cuts for rich people somehow always generates unbelievably increased federal revenues.

Posted by: qwerty on March 31, 2009 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

When your Party is committed to fiscal responsibility and tax cuts it's hard to produce a realistic budget in a downturn like this.

That's why this is the time for Republicans to stand mute (or stammer a bit) and wait.

However, I expect them to help Dems work on the financial industry regulations bill. They have interests in that area of law and they should make their opinions a part of the final bill.

Posted by: MarkH on March 31, 2009 at 5:45 PM | PERMALINK
"I'm working on it! Get off my back!" Posted by: Personal Failure on March 31, 2009

You're not even a disgrace. Admit it, you've always been a Failure! Don't take it Personal, it's just an observation from up here on your back.

Posted by: MarkH on March 31, 2009 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK



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