Responding to a direct challenge from President Obama on Tuesday evening, Republicans on Thursday unveiled their version of the FY 2010 budget of the United States government. They did this with all the bravado of an aroused ant floating down the river on his back and shouting, “Open the drawbridge!”
PajamasMedia’s Jennifer Rubin wrote that the Republican plan “goes some distance toward shooting down the Democrats’ spin that Republicans have ‘no ideas.’”
No it doesn’t. It goes some distance toward telling the American people that Republicans think they are dumb as hell, and gullible to boot. The Republican “budget” is an insult and an affront to the American people.
(Given that PajamasMedia’s last great idea was to hire Samuel Wurzelbacher (AKA Joe the Plumber AKA Sam the Fraud) as a war correspondent, that firm’s reputation as an arbiter of great ideas is far from firmly-established.)
To be fair, the budget presentation itself represents one of the best ideas I have seen in a long time: it has no numbers. No numbers, no historical discussion, no spending plans, no forecasts, no assumptions. Just words, and a few pictures.
In all my years of corporate budgeting I never until yesterday realized that the numbers were optional. That would have made things ever so much easier. In fact, considering that Republicans started their budget-sans-numbers on Tuesday night and finished it Thursday morning, I can only wonder, “What took you so long?”
The Republicans’ budget, dubbed “The Republican Road to Recovery,” clocks in at a brief 19 pages. Compared to the President’s 146-page budget behemoth, its pared-down size represents a considerable cost savings from the get-go.
Well, it’s not quite 19 pages. If you take out the front and back covers, the two-page letter from Minority Leader John Boehner and nine of his Worker Ants, the three title pages and nine-plus pages of criticism of the Democrats, you are left with 45 column-inches – about 2.6 pages – of “Republicans’ Solutions” to the nation’s problems.
That’s not much. Yet we all know that mere length is no measure of substance. You can say quite a lot in 2.6 pages; after all, the Gettysburg Address was only 256 well-chosen words long. So what is the substance of “The Republican Road to Recovery”? What does it say?
Limit budget growth
It says the Republicans want to limit the federal budget from growing faster than a family budget. Beyond glittering generalities like “enacting common-sense reforms and weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse,” it does not say how it will limit budget growth or even what index it will use to gauge that growth. Nor does it say why equalizing family and federal budget growth is a good idea.
They also plan to “devot(e) the entirety of any savings from reduced fighting to deficit reduction, rebuilding our military, and funding our commitment to our veterans.” Boy, will they be surprised when they learn that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are funded entirely by debt. There is no savings when you stop spending money you don’t have.
Reform health care and entitlements
The plan says Republicans want to provide universal access to health care and secure entitlements. How? By “provid(ing) tax incentives for millions of working families and small business owners to obtain access to coverage.” Of course: tax cuts.
That’s not all. They will also reform the insurance industry, limit malpractice awards, and place a “catastrophic cap on out-of-pocket expenses” (which probably means a cap on expenses for catastrophic illnesses). And they will allow states to “us(e) state dollars to supplement private health insurance coverage.” In other words, they will pawn it off on the states to deal with.
There’s bad news for some seniors “like Warren Buffett and George Soros.” They can expect “to pay $2 per day more for their prescription drug coverage.” That should save us about $8 a day, after Bill and Melinda Gates qualify for Medicare Part D.