Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Republican Road to Minor-Party Status

The House Republican leadership is being mocked from all quarters for their new “budget proposal,” and rightly so. “The Republican Road to Recovery” is not a budget plan at all, but a 19-page political pamphlet that consists of little more than a rant against the various proposals for economic recovery and health care reform. The 29 short paragraphs that come under the heading “Republicans’ Solution” don’t offer any solutions at all for the budget. The few legitimate proposals they do offer — expanded oil drilling off the coast of Alaska and the Carolinas, windmills in the middle of the ocean, more coal plants, winding down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and national licenses for health insurers — don’t really belong in the budget process, and offer the sort of minor tinkering that people undertake when they are trying to avoid the real issues. The many bubble charts included are the kind of empty filler you put in your high school term paper in the vain hope that your teacher won’t notice that you didn’t really write anything. The pamphlet as a whole does nothing but reinforce the popular perception that the Republicans don’t care about solutions because they don’t expect to be in a position of any real responsibility. In short, it’s the kind of document you expect from a political party trying to make the jump from 0.1 percent support to 1 percent support so they can be sure they’ll be included in the third-party debates. And that is the kind of position the Republicans in Washington could find themselves in if they don’t eventually decide to go back to work.

Fun facts about “The Republican Road to Recovery”:

  • Total length: 19 pages. Net length, excluding front and back cover, 2-page cover letter, and three nearly empty chapter pages: 12 pages.
  • Number of graphs that estimate the financial effects of an early version of the Democratic budget proposal: 3. Number of graphs that explain the Republican proposal: 0.
  • Number of signatures: 10. Number of House members attempting to explain it to the press at the press conference on Thursday: 1.
  • Quotes from Barack Obama: 2. Quotes from Republicans: 0. Quotes from other U.S. citizens: 1. Quotes from U.K. citizens: 2.
  • The only budgetary number included in the “Republicans’ Solution”: $3,128, an estimate of the annual cost per household of a proposed energy tax.