Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Elsewhere: House Budget edition

At Greg's place, I had fun with 10 questions to ask Paul Ryan and anyone who supports his budget -- do they really support shutting down all the popular government programs? Again, as Kevin Drum argued today, it's certainly possible that Ryan really wants to do that. And, if so, that's a legitimate position. Just not one that has much support beyond, oh, 10% or so of the nation. More likely, most Republicans have no intention of shutting down, say, the FDA, or even NASA. Which makes the budget-balancing portion of their budget a real fraud, in my view.

Meanwhile, for those who want something a bit more analytical, at Post Partisan I asked why House Republicans are doing a budget at all, and I speculated about the answer. If anyone has other suggestions, let me know; I consider it a bit of a mystery.


  1. Why are House Republicans doing a budget? This is known as "governing." (It used to be something both parties did.)

  2. No, it isn't governing. It's a campaign document. In my view, there's nothing wrong with that, but that's what it is, and it's odd to put out a campaign document that makes you vulnerable.

    (As Stan Collender said, the president's budget was a campaign document too. I'd say that the president's budget served multiple purposes, but I won't disagree with him about that).

    1. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a bipartisan vote of 386-23 and was signed into law as one of Richard Nixon's last official acts, requires that the Congress engage in budgeting. The failure of the Senate Democrats to do so is regrettable. Your calling the House Republicans' effort to comply with the law a campaign document doesn't make it one. (h/t to Abraham Lincoln)

    2. They *have* engaged in budgeting. They passed the Budget Control Act. That, more or less, was real governing. This isn't.

  3. I think that it's possible they released a budget that may be somewhat unpopular, so that they could take the position claiming the ability to make "hard choices".

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. This isn't a brave budget, it's a CYA budget. Medicare and SS are allowed to grow a lot while Medicaid is halved. The message is that you better not be poor and in need of healthcare, because the old people need it much more than you.

      All Medicare spending, even the waste, is sacred.

  4. Just popped over here from, where I was marvelling once again at how obtuse the sports media is. That website is a-twitter over the harsh punishments levied against the Saints' bounty program; otherwise-respectable writers like Peter King and Don Banks are off about Goodell's reputation, or Goodell sending a message, or Goodell not liking being lied to, etc etc etc. AFAICT, no one mentioned the alarmingly obvious moose on the table, viz, a multibillion dollar enterprise where some participants intentionally hurt others will quickly see its deep pockets transformed into empty pockets.

    Even stranger, the NFL is currently struggling under a mushrooming slate of injury-related lawsuits; even if these sportswriters had no instinct for injury liability, the concept is not that far down their blotter. IMHO, sportswriters speak as they do because their readers want to read what they write, so ignoring the glaring litigation aspect of this story is only giving the people what they want.

    Which brings us to the Republican budget, er "budget". My vote, having just been at, is something like the second explanation over at PostPartisan: "balanced budgets" are good things; actually balancing a budget is painful. If there's some delta between a "balanced budget" and actually balancing a budget, true believers want to hear it as much as an NFL fan wants to know that Roger Goodell is worried about the vast, terrifying liability associated with the violence of his enterprise.

  5. From your post-partisan article, I think the likeliest candidates are #'s 3, 4, and 5 (primary concerns, Ryan personal move, and belief they are winning issues), none of which are mutually exclusive. A few things you didn't mention that might at play here:

    1. In some GOP districts, these might actually be winning positions.

    2. You mention that voters don't care about budget resolutions, such that the GOP could have ignored this. The same dynamic makes it true that many voters will only hear the top-line figures in the Ryan budget --- this much tax cuts and this soon to balance --- and might be receptive to that. Without any fear that the budget resolution will actually be enforced in the final approps bills, it's a pretty easy gambit.

    3. Passing a budget resolution does theoretically tie down the approps committee later this summer; there might be strategic implications there.

    4. This could just be leadership driven (for whatever reason). Rank and file might not like it, but once it is going to the floor, they can't revolt.

    5. Again, I agree that voters don't care if the Senate Dems duck a budget resolution, but I think a lot of House GOPers believe passing one builds another brick in the "Dem Senate do-nothingism is the problem; look at everything we've passed."

    What I'd really like to know is what McConnell thinks of all this.

    None of the above is insider info or necessarily true, just some things to think about.



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