Perhaps. I can think of at least three ways around it, though, which could be used separately or combined.[T]he one clear policy implication of the Tea Party Movement's rise is that deficit reduction, if not (as many Republican candidates are promising this year) an actual balanced budget, is extremely conspicuous in Republican messaging and cannot be discarded as it has been in the past. Nobody with an R next to his or her name is saying "deficits don't matter" any more. That means a Republican-drafted budget resolution is going to either split the GOP ranks or force them into politically perilous territory on domestic spending cuts, with the 2012 Republican presidential field being forced to take sides on every controversial decision.
(1) Hire someone at CBO who will score tax cuts as massive revenue sources. Hey, look, the deficit is falling!
(2) Gotta have a gimmick -- introduce some sort of auto-cut procedure, similar to the old Gramm-Rudman structure; make sure that it won't actually kick in until some point in the future (or with a divided Congress, let the Senate kill it). Talk a lot about the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. Hold lots of votes on the Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment. Repeat that deficits keep going up because the Democrats are blocking the Amendment, or the new absolutely necessary budget procedures.
(3) Eliminate earmarks. Talk a whole lot about eliminating earmarks. Claim that you're slashing spending -- we eliminated earmarks! Never use the word "deficit" again. Hope no one notices.
Would this stuff work? I really don't know the answer, and I don't think anyone does. The question isn't so much whether Tea Partieres are really dedicated to balanced budgets. It's whether they would trust Republican Congressional leadership on it, and I expect they would -- provided, that is, that Fox News, Beck, Palin, Rush, and the rest of them, including high profile conservatives in Congress, keep to the company line. They wouldn't have to say "deficits don't matter." All they would have to do is either ignore the issue entirely, or pretend that the various gimmicks, phony projections, and symbolic cuts are for real. The question, then, is whether conservative opinion leaders can be convinced to go for it, at least through the 2012 election, while Republicans in Congress explode the deficit. That's the part of the answer that I don't think we know.