The Party of No (Ideas)

THE PARTY OF NO (IDEAS)…. About nine years ago, then-Gov. George W. Bush was asked about his budget experience. Bush said he was proud of what he’d put together: “It’s clearly a budget. It’s got a lot of numbers in it.”

Keep that quote in mind when considering the “budget” House Republicans unveiled this morning.

Stung by their stereotyping as the “party of no,” House Republicans eagerly promoted the unveiling of their alternative to President Obama’s budget today — but when they finished speaking, reporters had one big question: Where’s the actual budget? You know, the numbers that show deficit projections and discretionary spending?

There certainly was no hard budgetary data in the attractively designed 18-page packet that the House GOP handed out today, its blue cover emblazoned with an ambitious title: “The Republican Road to Recovery.” When Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) was asked what his goal for deficit reduction would be — President Obama aims to halve the nation’s spending imbalance within five years — Boehner responded simply: “To do better [than Obama].”

And that’s really all we got. House GOP leaders held a press conference this morning to prove a) they could put together a budget; b) that they could be the “party of yes”; and c) that their agenda is about more than just saying the opposite of whatever President Obama wants.

Instead, they unveiled a “budget” with no numbers or even budget estimates, and spent most of the press conference criticizing the president.

Republican leaders posted their “Road to Recovery” report online, and it’s more or less a joke. Apparently — I hope you’re sitting down — the minority party believes the nation will thrive if we cut taxes, stick with Bush’s energy policies, and pursue more deregulation. How much would this cost? They don’t say. How would this affect the deficit? They don’t say.

All of this, as we discussed earlier, plays into the Democrats’ hands. Republicans are not only playing by the White House’s rules, they’re doing it badly.

DNC National Press Secretary Hari Sevugan, not surprisingly, took a swing at the ball that Republicans set on a tee: “I’m all for changing the way we do business in Washington, but proposing a ‘budget’ that doesn’t use numbers may be too much for me. After 27 days, the best House Republicans could come up with is a 19-page pamphlet that does not include a single real budget proposal or estimate. There are more numbers in my last sentence than there are in the entire House GOP ‘budget.'”

The GOP was on the offensive, pointing to vulnerable points in the Obama administration’s agenda and pressuring center-right Democrats to break with their party. Now, they’re on the defensive, pretending to have credible ideas and presenting a bizarre “budget” with no numbers in it.

Republicans really didn’t think this one through.