Friday, March 27, 2009

GOP leaders should give their paychecks back

Whatever happened to the idea of the loyal opposition?  There used to be a time in Western civilization when politics thrived with competing thoughts and themes.  Newt Gingrich presented his Contract with America in 1993 which included a big serving of welfare reform flavored with his trademark condescension.  But welfare reform took hold and eventually won the Republicans the house in 1994 and arguably saved the US a few pennies on the margin.

I never thought I'd look back to those as the good ol' days.

The job of the opposition party is to offer opposing plans.  The international economy is at the precipice due largely to shenanigans in the US' capital markets, confidence is reeling, every type of debt is skyrocketing, unemployment and every economic metric is the within spittin' distance of the worst in history, and what do the Republicans have to offer?

They decry the large deficits in Mr. Obama's budget, but fail to present a viable alternative.  Sure they have broad general principles-- low taxes, cut spending, solve the crisis-- but the specifics are sorely lacking.

The fact is that the US entitlement system dictates almost half the budget outlays as non-discretionary spending, and another 40% or so goes to military spending which is tied up in two failing foreign wars, thus leaving the part of the budget that can be cut vanishingly small.  Add to these issues the reduced tax revenues from increased unemployment, lowered tax rates and the lack of capital gains over the last 12 months, and you have all the makings of a  spiraling uncontrolled budget deficit.

The Republicans know all this on some level, and I can understand why they would harumph at the President's current budget since it contains a lot of programs that are anathema to the Republican platform of small government and self-reliance.  So let's see what the loyal opposition can offer instead. 

I was not the only one waiting with baited breath for the "Republican budget alternative" that had been promised today, and I was not the only one who was disappointed.  Boehner and Cantor embarrassed themselves by going before the cameras with nothing to offer after excoriating the President over the last few weeks.  Furthermore, they let their country down.  If not working on economics and budgeting, then what have they been doing lo these past 64 days? Maybe the Republican leadership should give their paychecks back, or donate them to the starving AIG executives.
Good ideas would be nice, and the President strikes me as someone who would give any ideas some consideration.   To a person, critics of the administration are fresh out of viable alternatives to anything that has been done so far.  Even the usually disgruntled Nouriel "Dr. Doom" Roubini admits the Geithner Plan represents the best plan among very poor choices.

Mr. Gingrich is back on the scene, still with the same trademark condescension, but his only point of argument is to stir up dissension by warning that Obama is yearning for a "dictatorship" ,   which, coming from someone who is voluntarily signing up for the Papacy , seems like an odd complaint.

Frankly, I could not imagine what this nation would be like had McCain and Palin won and Phil Gramm was Treasury Secretary, but I do know that we'd at least have a loyal opposition. 


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