Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 4, 2009

EVEN LESS THAN MEETS THE EYE.... We talked earlier about the Republican budget-cut proposal, which reduces funding for, among other things, the Safe Routes to Schools program. It's part of what CNN is describing as a GOP plan to "cut spending by $375 billion over the next five years."

Putting aside the merit of specific spending measures, there's a more obvious problem with the Republican plan -- it doesn't even come close to cutting $375 billion over the next five years.

Tim Fernholz took a closer look at the proposal and found that the congressional minority actually aims for $23 billion in cuts over five years. (The $375 billion figure is only off by a factor of 15). Here's Tim's breakdown of the plan:

We'll worry about the specifics later. The GOP proposes capping discretionary spending on a variety of domestic priorities, from veterans to education and roads, which is certainly one way to stop spending, even if it's a foolish one. But the GOP doesn't even bother to specify what programs would get cut. So a "real budget cut" apparently means promising to spend less in the future and not saying how you would do it. The last time the GOP proposed this kind of fuzzy thinking, they were ridiculed by reporters. This proposal is not going to get anywhere in congress, so subtract $317 billion from the GOP number.

What, you're already doing that? The Republicans are promising to use repaid TARP funding for deficit reduction. It's a good idea -- so good, in fact, that it's already worked into the budget. TARP repayments are already set to go back into the Treasury and aren't earmarked for any other purpose. Subtract $45 billion from the GOP number.

So, after over a month of budget scrutiny, House Republican leaders have come up with a plan that would cut federal spending by about $5 billion a year -- far less than the White House plan to reduce spending.

This seems to fit in with the larger pattern of GOP House members being fundamentally unserious about budget issues. Remember their idea about a five-year spending freeze? Or their alternative budget with inexplicable charts and no numbers?

They really should just give up.

Steve Benen 4:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (12)

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Comments

I'm sure every mention of this plan in the corporate media will have these clarifications.

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on June 4, 2009 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

SOP for Republicans is to push vague spending caps and freezes, without ever having the guts to come out in opposition against specific programs that might have a consituency (unless its a liberal consituency: e.g. legal services, dept. of education, etc.)

Posted by: Virginia on June 4, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Why should the GOP give up, if CNN is willing to pretend that their plan details $375 billion in cuts, just because the GOP says it does?

Sounds to me like it's working - as a PR tactic, which is all they care about anyway.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on June 4, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Despite what Lamar Smith and the rest of the Media Caucus think, I sort of doubt that this is going to get very much air time on a system that considers Liz and the dick to be important enough to have on 24/7.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on June 4, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

When are you guys in the media going to figure it out....the GOP is fundamentally unserious about everything except acquiring and holding power.

They couldn't care less about actual policy...

Posted by: mfw13 on June 4, 2009 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe so, Steve, but an awful lot of incurious dullards unquestioningly believe everything they see on CNN. Republicans know well that all they have to do is stroke Wolf Blitzer a little bit, and their message will get out without any serious scrutiny or vetting.

As with most crazily-exaggerated claims made by the Republicans, it would be best to let them toot their horn for a little while, until the claim takes on as much factual momentum as it's likely to get. Then carefully select a prominent Republican talking head to match up against on national TV, and smash the claim decisively to bits in front of everybody. It would help if you could make him cry (I nominate John Boehner) and confess out loud that it was all a big fat lie, but just shocked silence following, "...isn't it true that (insert real versus phony amount here)?" would probably work well enough.

Posted by: Mark on June 4, 2009 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

"Democrats are complicit in building up Gingrich and Limbaugh as the main spokesmen for the Republican Party, since Obama polls so much better than either of them. But the media play an independent role by regularly treating far-right views as mainstream positions and by largely ignoring critiques of Obama that come from elected officials on the left."

Posted by: grinning cat on June 4, 2009 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

$5 billion a year -- far less than the White House plan to reduce spending.

As someone else pointed on another thread, the White House planned 100 million in budget cuts, not 100 billion.

PS - all three numbers are pitiful.

Posted by: Jayson on June 4, 2009 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

How many cuts in wasteful defense spending do they propose?

Posted by: Gregory on June 4, 2009 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

CNN should be forced, along with Fox Propaganda, off the air ........... how come the 'best political team on television' is all REPIGLICANS ? How come ?

Posted by: stormskies on June 4, 2009 at 5:38 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe so, Steve, but an awful lot of incurious dullards unquestioningly believe everything they see on CNN.

The comments at the CNN post largely praise the Republicans for rising to Obama's budget-cutting challenge.

Posted by: qwerty on June 4, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Nice arithmetic. Seriously, as long as we're talking about numbers, doesn't it make sense to at least do the math correctly?

Posted by: Bill on June 5, 2009 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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