‘WE WANT MORE’…. It’s almost inevitable that fissures within a congressional caucus, which were easier to paper over when in the minority, will come to the fore when that party wins a majority and has to actually govern. What Republicans may not have expected are these divisions to emerge just two weeks into their new House majority.
The issue, of course, is spending. The party’s “Pledge to America” vowed to slash $100 billion from the budget in the first year, a promise that the leadership abandoned the day before being sworn in. The figure just wasn’t realistic, especially given the abbreviated calendar for the fiscal year, and GOP leaders were eyeing cuts around half their original goal.
Yesterday, it became clear that the right-wing rank-and-file just aren’t satisfied with their leaders’ plans — and they’re not keeping their concerns to themselves.
House Republican leaders confronted pressure from conservatives on Thursday to take more aggressive steps to cut federal spending, with a large group of lawmakers calling for outlays to be slashed by $2.5 trillion over the next decade, far more than the party has sought so far.
The proposal, from the Republican Study Committee, a conservative bloc that counts more than two-thirds of House Republicans as members, calls for immediate reductions of at least $100 billion, compared with cuts in the current fiscal year of up to $80 billion being sought by party leaders.
“We want more,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, a freshman from South Carolina.
We talked briefly yesterday about the proposed plan to cut $2.5 trillion over the next decade, but it’s worth emphasizing how truly ridiculous it is. In the short term, the cuts would eliminate, among other things, transportation and infrastructure projects, energy research, and aid to states. Over the longer term, these Republicans are also eyeing drastic cuts to education, medical research, law enforcement, and homeland security.
And perhaps most important of all, the plan would deliberately put tens of thousands of Americans out of work, making the jobs crisis worse, on purpose, because Republicans think it’s a good idea.
The Republican Study Committee’s chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), said, “I have never seen the American people more receptive, more ready for the tough-love measures that need to be taken to help fix the country.” And by “tough love,” Jordan means making devastating cuts to domestic spending, while keeping tax breaks for millionaires intact, and leaving the Pentagon budget untouched.
I’d bet him $2.5 trillion that the majority of the country strongly disagrees.
But these zealots are hard to convince, and don’t seem especially inclined to follow the lead of their leaders.
Rank and file Republicans aren’t happy with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). They think the GOP should take a hatchet to the federal budget now, to make good on their pledge to slash spending by $100 billion “this year.” And their displeasure is spilling out into the open.
“Despite the added challenge of being four months into the current fiscal year, we still must keep our $100 billion pledge to the American people,” reads a draft of a letter to Boehner, obtained by TPM, being circulated by the Republican Study Committee. “These $100 billion in cuts to non-security discretionary spending not only ensure that we keep our word to the American people; they represent a credible down payment on the fiscally responsible measures that will be needed to get the nation’s finances back on track.”
The next question is what John Boehner and his team, who helped create this monster, intend to do about all of this. At this point, they don’t appear to have any idea.
Frankenstein didn’t know what to do with his monster, either.