The Republican Party’s battle cry in next year’s congressional elections could be this: “At least we did something.”
The GOP rammed through both houses a budget resolution, which is more than the Democrats did under Sen. Harry Reid’s watch as Senate majority leader. The result of the Democratic Party’s “do nothing” approach left plenty of campaign ammunition for Republicans last year, leading to the GOP taking control of the Senate.
The budget resolution may not amount to a hill of beans, but at least, it’s something. And, if nothing else, Republicans came up with some slick talking points. Nobody could possibly be against a resolution that …
· Balances the budget within 10 years without raising taxes.
· Ensures a strong national defense.
· Strengthens Medicare.
· Protects Social Security.
· Supports a healthier economy and stronger economic growth.
· Improves efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of government.
See? There’s nothing to this deficit-reduction stuff. It involves no pain, no sacrifice and senior citizens should have nothing to worry about now, or in the future. Republicans say this grand plan, in which Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo played a part in crafting, will result in $5 trillion in savings – a $32 billion surplus in 2024 and a $24 billion surplus in 2025. All Congress has to do is stick with the plan through 2025, and our financial crisis will be history.
Oh, there’s one small detail that is sure to be a big hit with Democrats. It repeals Obamacare, “including all of its taxes, regulations and mandates,” the Republican talking points say.
Sen. Crapo, a senior member of the Budget Committee, says the resolution is proof that Republicans can govern when in control, “and particularly establish progress to a proper fiscal policy, not just the failed ‘tax more and spend more’ approach we’ve been following.”
Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador and former Democratic Congressman Richard Stallings are among those not celebrating the accomplishment.
In a story by the Lewiston Tribune’s William Spence in May, Labrador called the resolution “irresponsible and unrealistic” and could cost Republicans a shot at winning the presidency next year. “When you say we’re going to increase military spending and cut everyone else’s programs, that’s not a winning message for the Republican Party.”
Stallings, who is recruiting potential candidates to challenge Crapo next year, calls the efforts by Idaho’s senior senator laughable. “He should hide his head in shame for coming up with this nonsense.”
Deficit reduction isn’t going to happen without reforms to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which are eating up the budget. As Labrador says, it isn’t going to happen by increasing military spending.
But as flawed as the Republican plan is, the Democratic “alternative” might be worse. It calls for soaking the rich, providing relief for the middle class and continuing with high spending (“investments”) on many programs. Stallings thinks both parties are out of touch.
“They are assuming that the American public is stupid,” Stallings said. “It’s no wonder why people have such a lousy attitude toward Congress. They are so disingenuous and nobody is taking them seriously.”
Crapo at least is aware there is a problem. He recently issued a news release citing a Congressional Budget Office report predicting that the national debt, if unchecked, will double in two decades. “Our nation may not survive this forecast if we don’t hold the line on spending,” he said in the release.
Looking beyond the Republican talking points, Crapo acknowledges that more needs to be done to cut the national debt. And while the resolution is not the silver bullet, it’s a start. “This budget was a big improvement over the past fiscal practices of the Congress for the past six years,” Crapo said.
Of course, that’s not saying much. Billy Preston’s song, “Nothing from Nothing (leaves nothing),” applies here. The GOP budget is useless to President Obama, and conservatives such as Labrador distance themselves from it. The blueprint will be even more useless if (or when) Democrats regain control of either house of Congress next year. And if a Republican wins the White House next year, anything Democrats say or do will be irrelevant.
So no matter what happens in the elections next year, we are likely to be left with … take it away, Billy Preston.