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The Looming Default –Of The House GOP

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The House Republicans ran on the Pledge to America. It is specific on p. 6 and on p. 21. From p. 21:

Act Immediately to Reduce Spending

There is no reason to wait to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending. Congress should move immediately to cancel unspent “stimulus” funds, and block any attempts to extend the timeline for spending “stimulus” funds. Throwing more money at a stimulus plan that is not working only wastes taxpayer money and puts us further in debt.

Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels

With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to prestimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children’s future.

These promises are impossible to square with the House Budget Committee’s announcement yesterday of a mere $32 billion in proposed cuts for the rest of the year. On yesterday’s program Budget Committee member Ken Calvert, who gets enormous credit for coming on air and answering pointed questions, offered up the Party’s line on why the three months of work since the election have produced so little in the way of reductions in spending. The transcript of our conversation is here. Congressman Calvert’s bottom line is critics should hold their fire because more will be cut in the floor amendment process.

This is astonishing. The Budget Committee is supposed to be the home of the hard-liners, led by Paul Ryan, the GOP’s last best hope to persuade a skeptical Tea Party that the Beltway Republicans really have changed from their 2006 edition. If this is all the Budget Committee can summon up after three months of post-election labor, then the prospect of real spending reform is dim.

This proposed budget for the CR is a bitter disappointment. The country is poised to tackle the dangerous level of the debt, ready to support the political leaders who actually and really charge the Hill with proposals for deep cuts. Tossing the budget to the amendment process is grand –if the budget to be amended starts with a serious number and doesn’t set up the equivalent of a professional wrestling exhibition where some more modest cuts can be voted and a grand total of underwhelming cuts gets packaged off to the senate to be watered down more.

And where is the actual text of proposed budget resolution that will be debated? Where is the Speaker, the Leader and the Chairman leading long press conferences full of charts and detailed lists of cuts, ready to answer obvious questions about such hugely symbolic targets as NPR and CPB as well as line items at agencies like the EPA and the Departments of Education.

The roll-out of the budget and the setting of the debate is an astonishing display of a lack of messaging strategy from the House GOP, still acting like the 1980s where dueling appearances on Capitol Gang passed for a media plan. Where is the online version of the budget? Where is the site where the texts of the amendments that are said by Congressman Calvert to be coming available for one and all to see. I quote again from the Pledge, this time on p. 33:

We will ensure that bills are debated and discussed in the public square bypublishing the text online for at least three days before coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives. No more hiding legislative language from the minority party, opponents, and the public.Legislation should be understood by all interested parties before it is voted on.

Visit the website of the House Budget Committee, now firmly under the control of the House GOP.

There is no text of the proposed Continuing Resolution, no specificity about what is proposed for cuts and, more importantly, what is being spent.

Head over to the website of the House Committee on Appropriations. Here you find a one page summary of the cuts to spending being put forward by the appropriators, but without anything approaching the sort of detail necessary to understand what is and isn’t being cut, and more important, what is being spent and on what.

Business as was usual in 2006 looks very much to be back in the saddle of the House GOP caucus in 2011: Trust us, don’t bother us, and don’t ask inconvenient questions. Please understand, little people outside the Beltway, that cutting the budget is hard and much too complicated for you to comprehend.

The House leadership seems genuinely unaware of the anger building over the year-end deal, the committee appointments, the lack of transparency and availability, and now a default on the explicit budget promises in the Pledge to America. Millions of people sacrificed their increasingly scarce resources and great amounts of time and this feeble attempt at spending discipline is not what they signed up for.



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