The Republican Strategy on the Budget

Today, Rep. Mike Pence and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the Chair and Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference, led a blogger conference call.  The representatives stayed on point throughout the call:

  • On the economy generally and on the Democrats’ budget proposal specifically, they repeatedly said the Democrats are spending, borrowing and taxing too much.
  • They hammered on the Democrats’ proposal as bad for families and small businesses, including family farms.  They emphasized the role of small businesses in job creation.
  • They said they believed in free markets, fiscal restraint and tax relief as the keys to growth.
  • To that effect, they said Senate and House Republicans would be cooperating closely to promote those messages over the next several weeks and then unveil an alternative budget proposal of their own, which they promise will be a bold, clear contrast with that of the Democrats.

I expected something along these lines, and I don’t object to the sentiment or disagree with their diagnosis of the Democrats' budget.  They’ve identified what’s wrong with the Democrats’ plan, they’ve developed a strategy for responding with their own alternative, and they want to get everyone on record as either supporting the Democrats’ messy bill or the ideal Republican vision. 

The first question went to Quin Hillyer over at AmSpec, who asked how unified we can expect the GOP response to be if a Republican leader like Lamar Alexander broke to vote for the omnibus spending bill.  Pence acknowledged that he and Sen. Alexander had a difference of opinion on that one, but hastened to add that Sen. Alexander had voted for all the limiting amendments and had voted against the stimulus, etc.

For my part, I asked the representatives why, in light of Republicans’ so-far unsuccessful attempts to bring “clean” Republican versions of bills to the floor for debate, their alternative budget would be different.

Rep. Pence answered that Republicans would be given the opportunity on this one.  The Republican House leadership is working closely with the budget committee, and specifically with Rep. Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican on that committee.  There are some limitations on how quickly they can move their alternative and get a CBO estimate done on it, but they’re going to use the interim to expose problems with the Democrats’ budget before unveiling their alternative.

Rep. Morris Rodgers said that it was important that it goes to the House floor for debate, and that they wanted the difference in approach to be clear to the American people, too.

As I said earlier, this is about what I expected – when your party is some 70 seats down in the House and retains only the most meager leverage in the Senate, having lost all credibility, you need to remind people that you at least remember what a conservative is supposed to want.

I just hope that’s not all they have in their playbook.  It’s much easier to present a principled image when you’re out of power and have no sway over whether a given bill will pass.

Assurances that the GOP will remain so principled when they regain a measure of power won’t carry a lot of weight without some kind of binding commitments – changing the structure and practices of the party rather than the short-term tactics.  After all, misbehavior that receded smoothly when the majority last changed hands can come back just as readily.  Easy come, easy go.

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New GOP budget going to be exactly like the budget proposed by Sen. Hutchinson in her amendment which was voted down:  Basically a return to 2008 funding levels.

GOP Congress critters know they will be sitting ducks in 2010 if they don't show their constituents they managed to fight their way to the front of the line for stimulus money to bring home.

Yet at the same time, this stupid fight the National GOP picked over earmarks is going to hogtie them. Net result: panic and paralysis.

I blame John Sydney McCain.  It was his signature move, busting the chops of ALL Congresspeople over earmarks to show the world what a maverick he was, and pandering to independents and moderates at the expense of GOP Congressmen who didn't have the luxury of a 70% approval at home and a six-year election cycle like McCain

Now, everyone is trying, with another pair of idiots, Pence and Ryan, to show they can reduce both earmarks and the size of Government, and at the same time bring jobs and prosperity back to their dying districts.

PLEASE do some math:

1.  The Discretionary Budget is the only part the Congress has control over.

2.  Aside from the Prescription plan and Education, Bush budgets either kept the Discretionary Budget the same, or dropped funding from most other programs when adjusted for inflation, except for two.

3.  The HUGE budget overruns came from Defense and Homeland Security.

Which are sacred cows to the GOP, and there you have it. 


Let's see what Pence and Ryan and the rest of the GOP leadership's Economic numbskulls come up with.  It will be easily shredded by reality, just like all America is now aware that earmark reform is to the current budget like walking into a 99 cent store and walking out because the items are marke $1.01.  It's less than a TWO PERCENT part of the budget!

And a major, major miscalculation for the GOP to use this sandy, unstable ground to rest the foundation of your new construction.

This is tough medicine to take

The Republicans are in the position they are in, because they acted like Democrats. Now, hopefully, they return to their principles and win back the base and convert some moderates to vote for them. By using earmarks and voting for stimulus and omnibus bills does not do that. 

It is hard to take this but there is nothing we can do until 2010 elections but to express our principles and prove they work and win new voters. BUT, they are not doing that. It is quite a shame.


Just came across this post.

Just came across this post. Some of these are not Democratic or Republican values. These are personal or political values. The challenge for the Legislature is finding a way to pay for them. Democrats have stood up to the challenge. Republicans are running from it. It’s no wonder they are working so hard to change the subject. Their track record is shameful.

Thanks for sharing


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It was his signature move,

It was his signature move, busting the chops of ALL Congresspeople over earmarks to show the world what a maverick he was, and pandering to independents and moderates at the expense of GOP Congressmen who didn't have the luxury of a 70% approval at home and a six-year election cycle like McCain Belford High School