President Obama may live very much to regret putting down the budget guantlet to the Republicans at his presser on Tuesday. That night he mocked his opponents as criticizers with no plan of their own. Not two days later, the Republicans have rolled out a plan of their own. The reality is that very few people are likely to read in detail either plan. Even fewer will understand the details of either. (to be fair the Republican's plan is signficantly less detailed, however that is likely not to matter) In fact, unfortunately, politically speaking, the details are not altogether important. What is important is that 1) both sides now have a plan to call their own, and 2) the general direction of both plans.
Doing this is of course, first and foremost, all part of being a policy maker. Politically, it is a brilliant move. Almost none, if none at all, of this plan will be adopted. Yet, it is now out there in the hypothetical. Hypothetical plans are the best kind of plans politically. That's because you can make of them what you want. The Republicans can proclaim over and over that their plan would have created just as many jobs at much less cost. How can anyone argue? After all, the plan never went into effect and so all their assumptions are hypothetical.
The public has been taken aback by the enormous amount of spending by the president so far. This plan is the antithesis of that. This plan relies on freezing and slowing down government spending as well as tax cuts. The Republicans have capitalized on the country's reluctance to watch the deficit balloon and presented an alternative that shrinks the deficit rather than growing it.
There will be plenty of folks that will scream hypocrisy because the Republicans presided over massive expansion of both debt and government from 2001-2007. Those arguments have become ones of diminishing returns and as times goes by, they will become arguments of even less returns. By presenting this budget proposal, the Republicans have positioned themselves beautifully for 2010. They are now in a position to first blunt the argument that they have no ideas. Second, they can continue to refer to this budget as they slam the out of control deficits the one that Obama will sign will cause. The mood in the country is away from massive deficits, and the Republicans have positioned themselves to take advantage of that mood.
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