Senate GOP dabbles in budget policy

SENATE GOP DABBLES IN BUDGET POLICY…. House Republicans clearly had some trouble crafting a budget alternative, and when the caucus finally unveiled a proposal, it was a rather pathetic joke. But what about the upper chamber? Will Senate Republicans try to be constructive and offer a budget blueprint of their own? At this point, it’s a little hard to say.

John McCain said on Sunday that the Senate GOP caucus is “working very hard” on their own alternative budget plan. Mitch McConnell said on Monday that the caucus is doing no such thing. McCain leaked word on Tuesday that Senate Republicans really are moving forward with their own budget proposal, but they’re bypassing the GOP leadership and the Senate Budget Committee. Judd Gregg, the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, said yesterday he’s prepared to vote for the GOP alternative budget, which he said is unlikely to exist.

When it comes to Republican policy making, one gets the sense the right hand doesn’t know what the far-right hand is doing.

As of last night, it seems McCain — undeterred by having his economic agenda rejected by the electorate — will unveil a budget alternative sometime today.

The McCain budget, which comes on the same day GOP House leaders introduced their own version of the budget, would spend $229 billion less than President Obama’s over five years, primarily by freezing all discretionary spending with the exception of defense and veterans’ services. […]

McCain’s budget would also make permanent the Bush tax cuts, provide a permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, and set up a special commission on entitlements that would seek to “reduce mandatory spending by at least 4 percent over the next 5 years, and 7 percent over the next decade,” according to the fact sheet.

McCain has been working with a small circle of allies on the proposal, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

Cut taxes, cut Social Security, cut spending in the midst of a deep recession. It’s the agenda that McCain presented to voters last year, and aparently, he hasn’t gotten the hint.

I still find it hard to believe anyone, least of all an experienced senator, would look at our economic crisis and recommend a spending freeze, better yet a five-year spending freeze. As David Brooks recently said, “A lot of Republicans up in Capitol Hill right now are calling for a spending freeze in a middle of a recession/depression. That is insane.”

It really is. Josh Marshall explained a few weeks ago, “When the crisis is a rapid and catastrophic drop off in demand, you handcuff the one force that can create demand (i.e., the federal government) in the throes of the contraction. That’s insane. Levels of stimulus are a decent question. Intensifying the contraction is just insane and frankly a joke.”

In some ways, McCain has become more ridiculous as the crisis has grown more serious. Last fall, he wanted a one-year spending freeze. As the need for government intervention has grown, McCain has gone in the opposite direction.

Assuming these GOP lawmakers aren’t deliberately trying to undermine the strength of the country, it’s hard to wrap one’s head around such irresponsibility. McCain and his cohorts believe the best way to address a raging economic fire is to turn off the spigots for the firefighters. Food stamps, unemployment benefits, infrastructure, health care, education — all of these stimulative efforts would be slashed through 2014, at the exact time we need to spend more, not less.

The pre-recession mentality keeps getting scarier.

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