I often wonder if the Republican leadership in Congress has any clue whatsoever.
Let's review the current state of the nation's fiscal matters. The two big, and intertwined issues, are the next budget AND a vote to increase the debt ceiling. So, briefly, here's where are we to date, a "scorecard" if you will:
On the budget, House Republicans have produced a serious effort led by Paul Ryan, to deal with spending and entitlements. In less than a month, Dems have elevated their "Mediscare" attacks to include a video of a Paul Ryan lookalike throwing a wheelchair bound granny off a cliff. So much for serious, principaled discourse.
Obama gave us a, well...budget so unserious that he himself repudiated it shortly after several thousand trees were killed to print it.
The Senate gang of six, now, the gang of five ( BTW..anyone ever wonder why there are no "gangs" in the House?) now just about gangrene, couldn't do anything that didn't involve lots of tax increases.
It's been over two years since the Democrat controlled Senate, ignoring one of its key responsibilities, last produced a budget. Indeed, from comments by many senate Dems, they have NO intention of ever doing so, preferring instead to attack the GOP proposals, convinced that this strategy will give them the greatest political traction.
On the debt ceiling, which will be reached sometime in the near future, ( except when it isn't actually hit) the Dems are starting to resemble Harold Campion, in that the world hasn't quite ended as predicted. They're now saying that they want a clean bill, yet have so far avoided telling us one nasty little detail: how many ZEROS do they want in the bill.
To their credit, both Boehner and McConnell had told the Dems to, well..pound sand. They've offered to consider a debt ceiling increase, but ONLY if accompanied by spending cuts equal to, or greater than the debt ceiling increase. And these spending cuts would have to be immediate, like NOW, and not put off down the road.
Now this sounds like a really good idea; I mean, what's NOT to like here. However, Boehner and McConnell have yet to answer one key question, namely: How can you cut that which you cannot see? IOW, a blind man has a near impossible time doing a jigsaw puzzle.
So, why give the Dems a pass? Reid is busy this week forcing Senate votes on the Ryan budget that he hopes will give the GOP agina, and of course a few Senate Republicans are already belching and burping - they can't "digest' the Ryan proposals. Reid can't be bothered to produce a serious budget, yet he has time for parliamentary shenanigans.
There's an easy way to stop this. Congressional Republicans should announce that there will be no vote on ANY type of debt ceiling increase; clear, dirty, smudged, folded, spindled, and/or mutilated, until the WH and Senate Dems FIRST produce their budget proposal. Period.
This immediately would be a game changer. The Dems will wail, scream...then have to explain why they can't be bothered to produced a budget in two years. They can't.
And oh yeah, Republicans..please, PLEASE..as part of any budget or debt ceiling package, drop ( for now) any effort to link it to a balanced budget amendment.
1. It will be a serious distraction from far more crucial, and immediate issues.
2. We're looking ( under the best of circumstances) at several years to pass the amendment. By that time, the USA could well be broke.
3. GOP politicans are fond of pointing out that all states are constitutionally required to have balanced budgets each year. OK, well, let's look at NY, Mass, Illinois, Michigan, and California, just for starters. Each of those states in theory has had a balanced budget every year. Well, how's that working out?
To anyone who could suggest with a straight face that those above states are shining examples of fiscal rectitude, well..let's just say.....naw.....and leave it at that. So even if we passed the BBA, and it became the law of the land, well, finding ways around, over, under, and through it would create thousands of new jobs on K street, but not do much for the good of the country.
So when to pass the BBA? Well, if we take the Senate and the WH this year, and things start to turn around, then introduce it in early 2014, before the off-year elections. It'll be a good platform component for the GOP, and they can write an amendment with TEETH.