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Monday, October 18, 2010

Specifics? Who Needs Specifics When You Don't Plan to Do Anything Anyway?

Earlier this month, Think Progress put together a video of Republicans weaseling out of answering what specific cuts they would make to reduce the deficit. They've decided that ending Bush's tax giveaway is off the table, despite the fact that it's a budget buster, so cuts to make up for it would have to be drastic and deep. With that in mind Senator/Congressperson/candidate, what would you cut?:

The popular explanation for why Republicans can't name any cuts they'd make is because they refuse to. That they want to make what would be unpopular cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to pay for their tax giveaway to the already wealthy. Robin-Hood-in-reverse -- robbing from the poor and middle class to give to the rich -- is not a popular position. So Republicans choose to hide their true position, waiting until they're safely installed in office to cut the social safety net they've all hated for decades. Maybe this is true and maybe not, but I think my explanation for this is probably a lot closer to the mark.

See, Republicans may be set to take over the House and, if we're generous, the Senate. But they're not going to have the two-thirds votes in both chambers it takes to override a presidential veto. So the GOP can't really do anything that the President disapproves of. As a result, what they want to cut and what they don't want to cut is kind of irrelevant -- they wouldn't have the votes to make the deep cuts in social safety net entitlements.

The best Republicans can do is what they're already doing -- obstructionism. With more votes and the control of House committees, they'll be able to block even more progress, but accomplishment of anything other than bipartisan ideas is out of the question. Republicans don't need to be specific, because -- other than saying no to everything -- they really don't have anything specific in mind. They'll be the same knee-jerk reactionaries they have been, they'll just be better at it.

Even in their "Pledge to America," Republicans promise cuts but don't bother with specifics. Because they don't have to. All they really need is a rationale to cover for their strategy of obstructionism. They don't plan to accomplish anything because they don't need to. Shutting down everything's been working well for them so far, so just put government on "pause" until 2012, when a GOP candidate can get in the White House and give everything that isn't welded down away to corporations. "The American people didn't vote for this!" will be the rallying cry, when the GOP has made sure that the American public didn't vote for anything in particular. Their "pledge" is unspecific -- pledging nothing, really -- because it's designed as camouflage, not as a serious policy document. They don't have a plan to lead, because they won't be in any position to. Why knock yourself out making specific promises when your actual plan is to cripple the president, so you can label him as weak and ineffectual when you run against him?

Republicans are light on specifics now because their real plan is to sit on their big elephant butts and do nothing. That doesn't sell well, so vague promises are the way to go. Hope you like a broken government, because it may be about to get even worse.


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