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Leading up to the 2010 election, John Boehner projected an aura of strength and a determined resolve to slash Government spending. He came across as a tough guy on a mission, and was convincing enough to persuade voters to put Republicans back in control of the House.
Well, we all know how that turned out.
The “largest spending cuts in U.S. history” gave us spending levels in 2011 that are $350B above 2010 and widened the deficit by another $300B. The $100B in promised cuts quickly turned into $63B before settling at an insignificant $38B without even a fight from the GOP.
Now Boehner is at it again – acting tough and determined ahead of the debt limit battle.
But his anemic performance in the 2011 budget debate doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that he will stand his ground and achieve meaningful results. In that fight, his most powerful weapon was the prospect of a Government shutdown if Dems refused to play ball. But he quickly wimped out when Reid and the Dems convinced him the GOP would get the blame if Government was shuttered.
Following that surrender, Boehner painted a sign on his back saying “I’m a pushover” and Democrats can clearly see it.
The GOP has another huge hammer going into the debt limit fight: the threat of a U.S. default on its debt obligations. While that threat is more demagoguery and scare tactics than reality, Boehner is already suggesting that default cannot be allowed to occur. So even before the first shot is fired, Boehner is forfeiting the only real leverage he has.
Moreover, it appears the GOP is backing off entitlement reform proposed in Paul Ryan’s budget after a barrage of demagoguery from the Left. And talk of a balanced budget Amendment is fading into the sunset. If that’s not enough, the GOP is already lowering the bar saying that raising the debt ceiling must be accompanied by at least $2 trillion in cuts over ten years. That’s roughly one-third of the spending reductions proposed by Ryan.
The Democrats are winning the argument by doing nothing. They refuse to offer up a plan that is expressed in hard numbers. They didn’t release a 2011 budget proposal that should have been done over a year ago, and the only plan with numbers released since the 2010 budget (two years ago) is Obama’s 2012 budget proposal which – according to CBO projections – would give us a mind-numbing national debt of $27.6 trillion by the end of 2021.
The House passed Ryan’s budget plan last month and GOP leadership should stand firm on it until Reid passes it or releases his own detailed spending plan. Stop making concessions just because the Dems are growling. Boehner is being led into the same trap he got snookered into during the 2011budget debate. It’s time for Republican leadership to stop being the only responsible players in town to release a serious plan and then spend the rest of the debate dodging daggers from the Left. When Reid and Pelosi turn the volume up on their demagoguery and accuse Ryan’s plan of “cutting too deep” – Boehner can simply respond by saying, “ok – you don’t like our plan, so show us yours.”
If Reid refuses to offer his own plan, then a Government default will fall squarely on his shoulders.
The Republicans have a plan – the Democrats don’t. Boehner needs to keep hammering that point home until Reid starts squealing.