Posted: 16 Jun 2009 01:59 PM PDT
Cato's Chris Edwards is correct. Republicans are playing small-ball. They have no real vision, so they've ended up with policy paralysis. - Jon Henke
As I note in a recent New York Post op-ed Republicans are fond of implying that President Obama is a big-spending socialist. But the House GOP recently offered a spending cut plan that was able to find savings worth less than one percent of Obama's budget.
Consider that the center-left budget wonks at the Brookings Institution put their heads together a few years ago and came up with a "smaller government plan" that proposed about $342 billion in annual spending cuts (by 2014). The Brookings authors note:
Thus, the Brookings scholars found cuts more than twenty times larger than the House GOP leadership cuts, and Brookings proposed its plan back when the deficit was about one-fifth of the size it is today. (Note that both the Brookings and GOP plans would also put a cap on overall nondefense discretionary spending, in addition to these specific cuts).
My point in the New York Post piece is that the GOP needs to challenge Obama's big spending agenda at a more fundamental level. They need to do some careful research, pick out some big spending targets, and go on the offense. Why not propose to eliminate the Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development? Why not sell off federal assets, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, in order to help pay down the federal debt? Why not open up the U.S. Postal Service to competition?
Obama won't agree to these reforms at this point, but they would hopefully open a serious national debate about reforming our massive and sprawling federal government. Ronald Reagan in 1980 and the congressional Republicans in 1994 didn't win by splitting hairs with the Democrats over 1% of spending. They offered a more fundamental critique.
At least, GOP leaders need to offer up spending reforms as bold as those of the Brookings Institution.
Chris Edwards is the director of tax policy studies at The Cato Institute
Posted: 16 Jun 2009 12:00 PM PDT
The legislative bribery happening over the 2009 Supplemental Appropriations bill (mentioned a few days ago) is ramping up. Democrats are pairing politically unpopular items together with the more essential items and outright earmark bribery in order to get the whole thing passed. And now, the White House is "turning to vulnerable Republicans and telling them he can get the DCCC to "go easy" on them next year if they vote for the Supplemental tomorrow. And Eric Cantor's office is really pissed."
Sources tell me Republicans will make this vote a campaign issue for Democrats in 2010 (details below).
This puts some of the Democrats in a very difficult position (See Red State for more on that), and some of them are gradually deciding to vote no on the legislation. There is bipartisan resistance to this bill, and Jane Hamsher is doing a good job whipping the vote over at Firedoglake. She has the current whip summary here.
Most importantly, Hamsher notes that "Blue Dogs are scared about what might happen in conservative districts if they cast that vote for a $100 billion European bank bailout."
I can confirm that. Earlier today, I asked a senior Republican campaign operative in Washington, DC about this bill, I was told that, yes, "Republicans will be watching how these Members vote on the War Supplemental", and it "will be a campaign issue" for many Democrats.
I was given a list of names they're watching closely, as well. Suffice it to say that Congressional Democrats are going to have to sever the elements of this supplemental and vote on them individually, or else they will be handing their opponents some very potent ammunition for 2010.
A vote is not far off. Phone calls help. Red State has a list of legislators you can call.
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