Republicans oppose Reid playing by GOP rules

There was a public service announcement that was fairly ubiquitous in the mid-80s that folks in my generation probably remember. A dad confronts his son about using drugs, and demands to know how he learned to use drugs. “From you, all right?” the son says. “I learned it by watching you!”

I thought of the PSA yesterday when Republicans started complaining about Harry Reid’s debt-reduction plan including the savings from war draw-downs. If GOP leaders asked the Senate Majority Leader where he came up with such a crazy idea, Reid could very easily respond, “From you, all right? I learned it by watching you!”

The No. 2 Senate Republican blasted the debt ceiling package unveiled Monday by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, saying its reliance on $1 trillion in savings from the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amounts to “phony scoring.”

At the same time, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona acknowledged Republicans have supported the same approach.

Reid’s plan is flawed, but it has its charms, and arguably offers a credible way out of this mess. As we discussed yesterday, the proposal features $2.7 trillion in cuts with no new revenue, just as Republicans demanded. But nearly half the plan relies on savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Republicans insist, then, that Reid’s total savings aren’t real, and that “counting money not spent on wars that the nation is already planning to end is widely viewed as a budget gimmick.”

On a wonky level, it’s not an unreasonable point of criticism. The problem for Republicans is, they’re in no position to complain — both Speaker Boehner’s plan and Paul Ryan’s budget include $1 trillion in savings from the end of the wars. And Republicans say they love Paul Ryan’s plan, holding it out as the gold standard on budget issues.

In other words, Reid is simply copying and pasting from the GOP playbook. If he’s using smoke and mirrors, they’re using smoke and mirrors.

When the White House said Reid’s plan features cuts that have been “previously agreed to by both parties,” that’s literally true. The Senate Majority Leader’s blueprint includes discretionary cuts that Republicans endorsed in the Biden-led talks, and includes war savings that Republicans included in their own plans.

I realize that, as far as Republicans are concerned, spending cuts only count as real cuts if they force working people or seniors to suffer in some meaningful way. But Republicans have nothing to whine about it when both parties are playing by the same GOP rules.