Why should anyone take the GOP seriously on budget issues?

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

This is the first question the media villagers and Beltway bloviators should be asking Republicans.

Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly sums it up nicely:

Roadmap_ruinHOW NOT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY ON BUDGET ISSUES…. At face value, the pledge from congressional Republicans to slash $100 billion from the federal budget is itself superficial and shallow. It's not as if GOP leaders identified $100 billion in unnecessary spending and vowed to eliminate it, or identified some specific policy benefit associated with these cuts.

Rather, Republicans picked $100 billion as an arbitrary figure — apparently chosen because it's a round number — and then started working backwards to reach their capricious goal.

Yesterday, CNN reported on how party leaders intend to reach their target.

Republicans view their midterm electoral victory as a mandate to cut spending, and cutting $100 billion from a $3 trillion federal budget sounds like a reasonable goal.

But GOP leaders say they will focus only on non-security discretionary spending, and won't slash funding for defense, Social Security or Medicare.

That makes their task a lot harder.

Cutting non-security discretionary funds by $100 billion means a 21% annual reduction in the part of the budget that includes funding for education, health and human services and housing and urban development, among other things, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. 

So, let me get this straight. Republicans started by prioritizing deficit reduction over economic growth, itself a ridiculous proposition. GOP leaders then decided, despite their top priority, that they wouldn't touch the Pentagon budget, Social Security, or Medicare — the three things we happen to spend the most on. They also decided that taxes can't go up a penny on anyone.

And to top things off, Republicans are demanding $100 billion in spending cuts, mostly to education and health care, in large part because they think the number sounds good.

Remind me, why should anyone take the GOP seriously on budget issues?

* * *

The United States now spends about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined. Every penny has been deemed entirely necessary by the Republican leadership?

It's the first hurdle that has to be cleared for the rest of the fiscal discussion to even get underway. Those who claim credibility on the subject, but believe a bloated Pentagon budget is untouchable, shouldn't even be part of the conversation.

Oh, and about the new deficit reduction (sic) rules in the House, Paul Krugman writes Yes, They're Frauds:

From CBPP, House Republican Rule Changes Pave the Way For Major Deficit-Increasing Tax Cuts, Despite Anti-Deficit Rhetoric:

House Republican leaders yesterday unveiled major changes to House procedural rules that are clearly designed to pave the way for more deficit-increasing tax cuts in the next two years. These rules stand in sharp contrast to the strong anti-deficit rhetoric that many Republicans used on the campaign trail this fall. While changes in congressional rules rarely get much public attention, these new rules — which are expected to be adopted by party-line vote when the 112th Congress convenes on January 5 — could have a substantial impact and risk making the nation’s fiscal problems significantly worse.

I hear that a lot of journalistic insiders were annoyed when I began calling out self-styled deficit hawks like Paul Ryan as flim-flammers. The Flimflam Man – NYTimes.com. But they are; nobody, and I mean nobody, in a position of influence within the GOP cares about deficits when tax cuts for the affluent are on the line.

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