A laughable response to a credible proposal

A LAUGHABLE RESPONSE TO A CREDIBLE PROPOSAL…. It stood to reason that Republicans weren’t going to respond well to President Obama’s debt-reduction plan. It calls for higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires; it intends to scale back the massive and bloated Pentagon budget; and it wants to protect investments in areas like education and health care that the GOP disapproves of.

But those expectations notwithstanding, I’d hoped the House majority party would come up with a response slightly less ridiculous than this.

[House Republicans’] responses thus edged beyond substance into the realm of personal grievance. Indeed, they implied that the speech may have poisoned the well so much that working together where common ground exists might now be impossible. […]

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) attacked the partisan bent of the speech, then characterized it as “a political broadside from our campaigner in chief.” […]

After the press conference he suggested Social Security might not be doable anymore. “I was hoping Social Security and some budget controls, and I didn’t even hear that,” he said. “I was naively optimistic that the President was going to give us a sincere olive branch.”

Ah yes, the anticipated “olive branch.” This from the right-wing lawmaker who drew up a budget plan that “deliberately constructed to be as offensive to Democrats as it’s possible to be,” and didn’t even bother with insincere “nods in the direction of bipartisanship.”

The president presented a proposal that was entirely mainstream, and would have been considered palatable to the Republican Party before it descended deep into the fever swamp. Yesterday, however, this debt-reduction plan apparently hurt the GOP’s feelings.

No, seriously. That’s the state of the debate in 2011.

For his part, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Ryan’s radical plan “sets the bar,” and will be the plan the GOP caucus sticks to.

Keep in mind, as recently as last week, Paul Ryan himself said he had no expectations that his budget plan would actually become law this year, but he’s choosing to push it anyway as part of a larger ideological “cause.” This week, however, the Speaker still considers the ridiculous proposal the only plan worth considering.

Obama said yesterday he envisions “a final agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit … by the end of June.” That’s not going to happen. Call it a hunch.