GOP Budget Theater

Here's a fun game. Guess what the hell this is supposed to be:

Nonsense 'chart'

Believe it or not, that's supposed to be a health care proposal. It's kind of like a flowchart, except there's no beginning or end to it. The New Republic's Ezra Klein calls it a "budget molecule." It's really just a collection of bullet points. But I'm guessing that when you laid them out as a list on the page, it looked pretty sparse. So it was sent off to some design genius to fluff it up and make it look like it was actually... well, something.

When House Republicans released their "alternative budget" yesterday, it was immediately met with disbelief. Were they actually serious? A 19-page pamphlet [PDF], the "Republican Road to Recovery" is basically a list of half-baked notions and stale talking points masquerading as a legislative proposal.

It became self-parody as soon as it was announced, as Ryan Grim of Huffington Post shows here:

"Today we're introducing a detailed road-to-recovery plan," [House Republican leader John Boehner] told the reporters...

Reporters -- mainstream, liberal and conservative -- greeted the Republican document with a collective scoff.

"Are you going to have any further details on this today?" the first asked.

"On what?" asked Boehner.

"There's no detail in here," noted the reporter.

Answered Boehner: "This is a blueprint for where we're going. Are you asking about some other document?"

A second reporter followed up: "What about some numbers? What about the out-year deficit? What about balancing the budget? How are you going to do it?"

"We'll have the alternative budget details next week," promised Boehner...

So it's a "detailed road-to-recovery plan," only without any details. Boehner tried to BS reporters about what those same reporters were looking at. In what world populated by complete idiots would that ever work?

"It's reads like what would happen if The Onion put together a budget," wrote Ezra Klein. "'Area Man Releases Proposal for 2010 Federal Spending Priorities.'" To make matters worse, the GOP is now saying they'll have the details Wednesday -- April Fools Day (expect that to change).

That chart's about as good as it gets. This is a "budget proposal" without any mention of costs. Associated Press called it a "glossy pamphlet" that offers "little beyond campaign-style talking points."

"I will note that there are -- there's one more picture of a windmill than there is of a chart of numbers," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. "There's -- just for your knowledge, there's exactly one picture of a windmill."

Not that it's entirely without numbers; just not real ones. Two numbers within this supposed budget are conceptual -- 35% and 25%. Those numbers represent a tax cut for the wealthy. The top tax rate would be cut down to 25% -- mostly because Republicans don't seem to know a damned thing about economics. "The President’s budget will hurt the economy and destroy jobs," Boehner said in a press release. "By contrast, our Road to Recovery plan will strengthen the economy, create jobs, and restore fiscal sanity in Washington."

Republicans believe that employers create jobs -- and that this becomes more true as the income of said employer increases. If you give the rich a big fat 10% tax break, they'll run right out and hire a whole bunch of people.

But employers don't create jobs, consumers do. Anyone who hires a bunch of people to do a job no one needs done is wasting their money. Consumers are largely workers, so the truth is that workers create jobs with consumer demand. Republicans are just recycling the same "trickle-down" economic sorcery that has failed so spectacularly for decades.

This whole thing is a waste of everyones time. But it's a pretty safe time-waster for Republicans. They don't need to offer a real alternative, because their proposal isn't going to go anywhere anyway. Why knock themselves out? There are a lot of people out there who still believe all this trickle-down crap, so the GOP will pretend to fight for them to throw them a bone. When the details finally come out, I doubt this plan will be much more fleshed out than it is now. In any case, it's a sure bet that it won't make any more sense than this collection of propaganda gibberish.

All they need to be able to do is say they offered an alternative and it was rejected. If Obama's budget turns out to work great, they can always claim that theirs would've worked better. And if Obama's budget turns out to be a disaster? Hey, that's what they're all hoping for anyway.

At this point, all that's really required of a Republican alternative is that it exists. It doesn't have to make any sense, it doesn't have to be reality-based, it doesn't have to be wise.

It just has to be.


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