How lunatic-fringe do the House Republicans have to be on budget cuts before President Obama starts calling them out on their plans? Evidently, they still have a ways to go, because the administration has been mostly silent on the sheer perversity of the Republican cuts.
The cuts proposed in the House budget would devastate spending on everything from Headstart (157,000 eligible kids denied services) to Pell grants (a 25 percent cut) and dozens of other programs including job training, energy assistance, safe food and clean water.
On paper, the Republicans would cut discretionary spending by “only” 14.3 percent, but since the fiscal year will be more than half over by the time the cuts become official, the actual cuts would be fully one-fourth — a staggering cut for any program to bear and an insane economic idea during a severe downturn. These cuts have nothing to do with reasonable fiscal policy; they are pure ideological retribution against government.
You would think that at some point, President Obama would be pointing to the recklessness of these proposals in a still soft economy. But instead, the president has doubled down on his bipartisanship.
Last Friday, in Miami, President Obama could found be sharing the spotlight with former Florida governor Jeb Bush, crowing about their shared views on educational reform.
Obama declared in his weekly address:
In other words, with Republicans slashing everything from Pell Grants to Headstart, there are no partisan differences on education. So why bother to have an election? Why bother to have two parties? Why not just give up and embrace the Republican budget?
What White House political geniuses dreamed up the idea of a joint presidential appearance with Jeb Bush? Evidently the same strategists who still think that voters care about bridging partisan differences more than they care about substantive progress to end the economic slump and to restore economic opportunity.
On Sunday, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley all but invited the Republicans to define the necessary goals of budget cutting:
Translation: The Republicans have set the goals. The Administration will meet them halfway, and more if necessary. Never mind the content of the budget cuts, or whether deep budget cuts are sensible at all while unemployment is still at 8.9 percent.
Daley added this:
The president’s had conversations with Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Congresswoman Pelosi, McConnell and Reid, Senators McConnell and Reid, and his — he is not going to play the Washington games. We’ve had enough in the last two years. I think the American people are sick and tired of it. They’re tired of the partisanship. And if anyone thinks that, out of this last election, the American people were voting for more partisanship, more saying no, I think they’re, they’re going to have a rude awakening in the next election.
Translation: The Democrats lost 63 House seats in the 2010 midterm election, but this was not a victory for partisanship or for Republican hardball.
Well, you could have fooled me.
The president was more candid than his new chief of staff, when Obama admitted that the Democrats had taken a shellacking. And that will continue if the Republicans stand for something and Democrats just stand for making nice.
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