ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It must be an election year

and those in Congress think the press is who shows up to vote for them:

Stop the Obesity!
The Republican-led Senate stiff-armed President Bush’s call for belt-tightening yesterday and adopted a $2.8 trillion fiscal 2007 budget resolution, after adding over $16 billion in spending to Bush’s request and rejecting calls to rein in entitlements. The Senate snubbed even modest attempts to slow mandatory spending programs, which Bush had targeted for $65 billion in net savings over five years. Almost all of the proposed amendments sought to increase spending.

Republicans in Congress are riding roughshod, violating all budgetary principles. It’s real simple. The architects are using gimmicks, like Arlen Specter’s “advanced appropriations.” Specter got $7 billion for education and other programs under the jurisdiction of the Labor, Health and Education Appropriations Subcommittee which he chairs, according to Congressional Quarterly.

Specter’s blatant disregard for any sort of budget discipline was summed up with his smug remark, “It’s not sort of a gimmick; it is a gimmick.” It is precisely this attitude which is likely to haunt the GOP come November, as the small government conservative base of the party stays home. Specter also got commitments from Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran for another $3 billion that will be added to the budget resolution.
There are two big holes being dug here with this GOP budgetary misbehavior:

The first hole is that the GOP overspending and over borrowing jeopardizes investor tax cut extensions. The extensions remain unsettled.

The second hole being dug is that the GOP risks further demoralizing an increasingly frustrated Republican base. These folks are getting fed up. Discouraged Republican voters could very well stay at home come November, thereby producing a Democratic Congress. This could unveil a nightmare scenario. Let’s suppose that Harlem Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel becomes Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. (I’ll allow you to wager a bet as to what will happen to those investor tax cut extensions.)

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told me in an interview last night on CNBC’s “Kudlow & Company” that he agreed that busting the budget could cost the GOP both houses of Congress. But apparently the leadership is powerless to stop the budget busting activity.

Bush has submitted much leaner budgets in his second term, but it is Congress now which has come down with a serious budget obesity addiction. (Perhaps Peggy Noonan’s recent column directed at Bush entitled “Hey Big Spender” might be directed at Congress instead.)

This is not good for a variety of issues. In addition to those outlined by Kudlow, it gives the Dems yet another message to use in their campaigns - that Republicans are borrow & spenders without fiscal discipline. While this rings hollow with me (b/c I know that the Dems are tax & spenders), it isn't exactly received that way by the voters. And nothing gets the base energized more than hearing Schumer et al saying that the GOP budget is a "dagger at the heart" of the working poor, the Constitution, etc, etc.

With Senators like Specter, what's the point? Yes, to keep Charlie Rangel from becoming chair of Ways & Means, but that's so inside baseball that it doesn't make the sale on Main Street USA. There should be a rule for Republicans in election years: If you're getting good press, you're not trying hard enough.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler