If By "Budget" You Mean "Packet..."

Wow. I guess the Republicans felt they needed to get a handle on this whole "party of No" meme, the sense that all they did was complain and obstruct rather than offer constructive alternatives. So today, they unveiled their budget alternative, which actually wasn't a budget at all, if by budget you mean, ya know, numbers and stuff. But never again let it be said that Republicans don't know how to bind 18 pages together into a presentable packet.

Elana Schorr has more:

The lack of any statistical heft in their packet left the House GOP stumbling out of the gate as it worked to re-dub itself as the "party of yes," in the words of No. 3-ranked leader Mike Pence (R-IN). House Republicans unveiled an alternative plan for the foreclosure crisis yesterday, and they are continuing to tout their economic stimulus proposal (along with an erroneous claim that it creates more jobs than Obama's).

The GOP's "Road to Recovery" packet, divided into sections on spending limits, job creation/tax reduction, and debt control, is certainly replete with big promises. The plan commits Republicans "to ensur[ing] that the federal budget cannot grow faster than families' ability to pay the bill" ... though it doesn't explain what metric the party would use to measure the "average" family's debt burden.

Another section of the GOP budget packet describes "a new tax deduction that allows businesses with less than 500 employees to take a tax deduction equal to 20% of their income" ... though it doesn't explain how much the new tax change would cost, nor whether it would be offset to help avoid increasing the deficit.

After cutting away from the president's townhall this morning to cover the unveiling of the Republicans' packet, here is MSNBC's hilarious real time reaction (via e-mail):

Contessa Brewer: Mike Viqueira joins me now. I am very frustrated Mike because we've been waiting for this, we cut away from the President to hear the big build up: Republican have a plan, they have ideas, they're not the Party of No. And, all I heard in that news conference is what they don't like about the President's plan.

Mike Viqueira: Well Norah - Uh Contessa, not Norah, Contessa, I am going to pass that along. They did hold up this uh John Boehner hold up this budget book here and said now we have a plan here is our budget. What it is is, it is a plan in the broad sense of the term. It outlines what the President wants to do in the various policies areas like energy and healthcare  and entitlement reform and things of that nature and it talks about what Republicans want to do in very broad terms.  It does not have, in the sense of a traditional budget, numbers with estimates, an estimate for how much they would reduce the deficit things of that nature.

When asked about it at his daily press briefing this morning, Robert Gibbs quipped:

- Gibbs trashed the Republicans' budget proposal. "There is exactly one more picture of a windmill than there is of a chart of numbers...The party of no has become the party of no new ideas."

You gotta watch the awkwardness to believe it. Boehner is no showman and look how nervous Cantor looks. He knows they're about to bomb and bomb badly.

What's even sadder: they're actually touting that video over at Republicanleader.house.gov.

Update [2009-3-26 15:40:11 by Todd Beeton]:Sadder still: this diagram from their packet. Is this a joke?

Update [2009-3-26 15:47:57 by Todd Beeton]:Via Ben Smith, Politico has an interesting quote from Dick Durbin on the Republicans' catch-22 when it comes to proposing a budget:

“He went on to say, ‘The Republicans cannot produce a budget because to get to the spending levels that they’re talking about would involve cuts they could never support or increases in taxes that they could never support.’”

Update [2009-3-26 16:23:25 by Todd Beeton]:A-ha, no wonder Cantor looked so nervous:

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) objected to an abbreviated alternative budget "blueprint" released today -- but were told by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) they needed to back the plan, according to several Republican sources.

The argument, coming a week before the full House and Senate are scheduled to vote on the budget, underscores the minority party's woes in a mounting unified opposition to President Obama's $3.7 trillion FY2010 budget proposal.

Ryan, the ranking Republican on the budget committee, plans to introduce a detailed substitute amendment for the Democrats' spending plan next Tuesday or Wednesday -- and still intends to do so.

But he and Cantor were reportedly told by Boehner and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.) they needed to move more quickly to counter Democrats' charge they were becoming the "Party of No," according to House GOP staffers.

This has got to be good for Republicans.

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The Deregulating

Bumped - Todd

Jed at DKos grabs a great clip of Boehner (see full video here):

BLITZER: He seemed to be saying, all those Republicans who want a free market, who want to deregulate, who want the government off the back of these huge corporations, look what they're -- look what we got as a result of all of that.

BOEHNER: Wolf, you have to understand, there was no deregulation of anything in the financial services industries. As a matter of fact, there was an increase in regulation.

Jed rightly reminds us that Boehner voted for the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999, which repealed some major regulations of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. And the 'Gramm' here is "nation of whiners" and "mental recession"Phil Gramm. That guy.

The Glass-Steagall Act, passed after the banking crisis of 1933, created several layers of financial protection for consumers, including the establishment of the FDIC. But the other major provision built a regulatory firewall between normal deposit banks and more speculative financial institutions that traded in much riskier instruments.

So after 1999's Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act the remainder of that firewall fell, and institutions like Citigroup were free to hold all sorts of over-leveraged instruments without much (or any) oversight, exposing much of our nation's banking backbone to huge risk. That didn't go especially well, and now the government is acting as the backstop (hence 'too big to fail'). Good times.

To be fair, the deregulation of the 90's was a bi-partisan kerfuffle, with only a few Democratic Senators like Feingold, Boxer, Wellstone, and Dorgan voting against the final package.

But it was certainly deregulation, no matter what Boehner says.

Update [2009-3-19 15:39:45 by Josh Orton]: Oh yeah, this one too, from 2000.

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How to turn a severe recession into a depression

Freeze federal spending in response to a huge spike in unemployment.

No, seriously, House Republican leader John Boehner is now proposing a federal spending freeze. Like Josh Marshall says,

I'm not even sure it's fair to say that this is a replay of the disastrous decisions the magnified the Great Depression between 1929 and 1933. It's more a parody of it. When the crisis is a rapid and catastrophic drop off in demand, you handcuff the one force that can create demand (i.e., the federal government) in the throes of the contraction. That's insane. Levels of stimulus are a decent question. Intensifying the contraction is just insane and frankly a joke.

Paul Rosenberg has some good comments and a Rachel Maddow clip on this topic.

Republicans have long advocated dumb ideas on economic policy, like Congressman Steve King's proposal to boost investment by eliminating capital gains taxes. To state the obvious, investors are not staying away from stocks because they're worried about paying taxes on huge capital gains. On the contrary, investors fear that they will lose money because the market has not hit bottom yet and the recession will bring down more companies.

Similarly, fear of taxes on corporate profits has little to do with why businesses are not investing in production now. Business owners are not worried about finding money to pay taxes on profits. They are worried about losing money because skyrocketing unemployment reduces consumer demand for the goods or services that businesses sell.

In fairness, if we followed bad Republican advice on cutting corporate and capital gains taxes, we'd only be giving wealthy Americans tax breaks with a very small economic stimulus "bang for the buck" (see this data compiled by the chief economist for Moody's). If we followed Boehner's "new and improved" Republican advice to freeze federal spending, we would send the economy into a meltdown.

I have to wonder whether Republicans even believe in their own talking points. A spending freeze, really? That's not what George W. Bush and the Republican majority in Congress did during the previous recession.

I think they may be beating the drum on spending to scare some Democrats out of supporting Obama's budget proposal. What worries me is the scenario outlined by Open Left user Master Jack:

1. Obama submits a budget with the spending necessary to avoid a depression.

  2. Blue Dogs bitch and bleat and whine.

  3. Obama caves to the blue dogs and waters down his budget.

  4. Depression ensues.

  5. Democrats get clobbered in 2010.

  6. Liberals get blamed.

  This is what the Republicans are trying to make happen. And it wouldn't stand a prayer of working of not for their blue dog enablers.

Democrats from President Obama on down need to push back hard against the Republicans' idiotic new line.  

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McCain/McConnell/Boehner LOVE Obama's Iraq plan

In 2006, we elected a Democratic Congress, so that Pelosi and Reid would end the war in Iraq.

In 2008, the Democrats nominated and elected the "anti war" candidate who pledged to end the war in Iraq, withdraw our troops, and use the money now spent in Iraq to fund his domestic agenda.
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics /AP/story/925995.html

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The Boehner And Steele Show

Some hilarity from two of the leaders of the Republican Party, which I thought complemented each other nicely.

First, here's drama-queen John Boehner on the floor of the House after the stimulus package passed without one Republican vote:

And here's what RNC Chairman Michael Steele told Glenn Beck when asked why voters should ever press the Republican lever again:

STEELE: Yeah, no, Glenn. I'm not gonna, look, I'm not going to soft pedal this with you. I'm not going to try to blow smoke either. The reality of it is, you are absolutely right. You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point. So, yeah, it's going to be an uphill climb.

Pretty much says it all.

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