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The Beltway GOP Contemplates Political Suicide

Friday, April 15, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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As the White House ramps up pressure on a few Republican senators to undermine the national party’s message and the House GOP’s budget, word arrives from the Washington Post that there are other senior Republicans who somehow missed the message of November, which was cut spending first and deep.

The New York Times floats its first “Boehner may be in trouble” story, which is another excellent example of how MSM supports Democratic messaging and succeeds because the communications consultants in charge of the GOP’s Beltway sharpies couldn’t manage a potato chip campaign much less a prolonged and difficult rollout of a complicated though immensely popular message of scaling back the federal government.

This couldn’t be happening if the Speaker, GOP Majority Leader Cantor and GOP Whip Kevin McCarthy flooded the zone with a straightforward: “There will be no tax hikes or deduction eliminations until after serious budget reduction has been achieved. The Senate needs to send us a budget in response to the one we are sending it.”

Allowing the “grand bargain” genie out of the bottle is a sure way to get rolled again. And proposing any plan that kills or reduces the mortgage interest deduction or the charitable deduction guarantees a splintered base.

Tax simplification wasn’t the message of the election. Dramatically cutting back government was. How can anyone in either of the GOP Congressional caucuses not know that this is the single measuring stick of their performance? They have to reduce spending first, and by a lot.

Which brings us to the debt ceiling negotiations where some Republicans are already peddling the idea of a balanced budget amendment or spending caps as the serious reform they must have to raise the debt limit. Those are as transparently political as last week’s budget deal –paper promises that don’t do anything right now to shrink government. From yesterday’s conversation with Mark Steyn:

HH: The non-deficit reducing, deficit reduction bill has passed, 260-167, 59 Republicans voting against it. The chairman of the Appropriations committee, Hal Rogers, said I just want this bill over with. But here’s the kicker. Although the Congressional Budget Office says it does cut $350 million, not billion in total spending, in fact, overall spending, when you include emergency overseas spending in 2011, will rise this year by $3 billion over 2010 levels. To discuss government math, none other than Columnist To the World, Mark Steyn. You can read all of his work at www.steynonline.com. Mark, it was great to see you on Sunday night, although after you were done talking, I felt like taking a right turn at the Santa Monica pier and just keep driving.

MS: (laughing) Exactly. And you know, I had, when I saw you on Sunday night, I said that this historic, you know, $38.5 billion dollar cut amounted to the amount of money that the United States government borrows every ten days, slightly under ten days. And I thought that was pathetic enough. Now we find that it’s only a cut of $350 million, which is equivalent to what the United States government borrows every two hours. I mean, back in the 90s, I think there was a sort of competition to calculate how much money had to have fallen out of his pocket onto the sidewalk for it to be worth it in man hours for Bill Gates stooping to pick it up.

HH: Yes.

MS: …because he made so much. And in this case, it is absolutely not worth the time it takes to type up a bill that merely cuts the equivalent of two hours of government spending. This is why, if this is the best that John Boehner can do, I expect nothing from Harry Reid. But if this is the best John Boehner can do, then I’m sorry, this country is dead. And there’s no question about it, because the political institutions are impervious to course correction.

HH: And this is what brings us to, in fact, the New York Times article on this has this paragraph in it. When projected emergency contingency spending overseas is figured in by the Budget office, estimated outlays for this year will actually increase by more than $3 billion.

MS: Right.

HH: So Mark Steyn, do they think we wouldn’t notice this?

MS: I know. This…any more historic budget cuts like this…

HH: (laughing)

MS: I think I’ll drive off that pier even faster.

HH: Yes.

MS: You know, a historic budget cut that actually increases spending, this is a joke. This is a total joke. You know what we need to do? We need to abolish a cabinet department at the very minimum to show that the United States government is capable of reform.

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