Demands for an ‘alternative’

DEMANDS FOR AN ‘ALTERNATIVE’…. Yesterday afternoon, the lead story on Mark Halperin’s “The Page” was the White House’s mild rebuke of Paul Ryan’s Republican budget plan.

Halperin’s headline: “Obama Pans Ryan — Without Alternative.”

This was one of those cases in which the media establishment had accepted the Republican line before Republicans had even offered it. Ryan wants to eliminate Medicare and gut Medicaid; the White House disapproves; and the media is already demanding an “alternative.” It’s an extension of the praise for Ryan for being “courageous” — at least he put his agenda on paper.

This morning, Halperin’s lead story was a GOP endorsement of yesterday’s lead story. The headline: “Boehner Asks For Bam’s Budget ‘Alternative’.”

Speaker releases statement Wed. calling on Obama to “lead instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

“I’m disappointed but not surprised that the White House has chosen to attack Chairman Ryan’s budget proposal…. The president is certainly entitled to disagree with our budget, but what exactly is his alternative? If he wants to have an ‘adult conversation’ about solving our fiscal challenges, he needs to lead instead of sitting on the sidelines.”

OK, so Halperin and Boehner are clearly on the same page, asking the same question. But I have two follow-up questions for the duo.

First, what kind of “alternative” is the White House expected to offer, exactly? If the political establishment is waiting for the administration’s plan to use unicorns to reduce unemployment to 2.8%, and Obama’s “alternative” to eliminating Medicare, I suspect Halperin and Boehner are going to be waiting a long time.

Second, if the request is for an “alternative” budget, I might remind Halperin and Boehner that the White House already presented Obama’s alternative. Mid-February really wasn’t that long ago, but that’s when the administration presented a budget plan for the next fiscal year. They put it online, and it generated a lot of discussion. Halperin and Boehner might have heard about it.

“The president is certainly entitled to disagree with our budget, but what exactly is his alternative?” Halperin seems to like the question, but Obama’s alternative was sent to Congress nearly seven weeks ago.

I’m often mystified by our discourse. This is one of those times.