Wednesday, March 23, 2011

GOP Budget?

I've been pushing a notion over the last few days that Republicans in the House won't put forward a formal budget as part of the regular yearly budget process. Therefore, I need to note today's Politico story, in which the leadership says that it plans to "unveil an aggressive 2012 budget in three weeks."

Could be. I'm going to remain skeptical on this one until I see it. I can't see how Paul Ryan can square the circle of keeping taxes at Bush levels, repealing ACA, and protecting all current Medicare and Social Security recipients while shrinking the deficit. Ryan certainly could show lower deficit projections for FY 2012, but cuts deep enough to get good five or ten (or twenty) year projections are almost certain to be political poison.

What does that leave? Submit a budget with phony numbers, and then slam CBO when honest projections are produced. Forget entitlements, and focus only on FY 2012, with spending cuts similar to the House-passed ones in the current FY 2011 fight. Or find an excuse ("Obama isn't serious about the deficit! We can't start 2012 until we finish 2011!) to avoid putting together a formal budget, and instead go with a press release -- it's much easier to achieve deficit targets in press releases, which do not have to be scored by CBO.

Or maybe Boehner and Ryan can and will submit a real budget that does what they now say it will do. As I said, could be. But I think if they do that, they're just asking for trouble. If I were advising them, I'd tell them to go with the press release.

For more, see Bruce Bartlett and Stan Collender.


  1. Jonathan, another fine post. I think you're right that currently there are few incentives for House Republicans to write a real budget...or to write any real plans for dealing with any of the nation's fiscal problems, short or long term.

    Given that, I'd be interested in your thoughts/speculations on what the most likely scenarios are for any future changes on these issues.

    So, for example, it was only after Eisenhower said that "we all agree" on the basics of the New Deal that Republicans got back into the White House. Is there a similar (or very different) scenario whereby future Republicans will say, for example, "we all agree on the need for increased tax revenues"?

  2. Don't forget that the Senate is not in "friendly" hands, so that a FY12 budget sent to the Senate could, at Baccus's request, be sent to the CBO for a 10-year projection. That adds to the "press release" theory.

  3. "If I were advising them, I'd tell them to go with the press release."

    Now if that ain't vintage Bernstein!


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