My column from this morning's Roll Call explains why the Republican position on not using cuts in the projected spending for military activities in Afghanistan makes them all-star budget hypocrites, and then some.
After reading the column, you may also say it's "par for the course."
Republicans Set Stage to Become All-Time Budget Hypocrites
By Stan Collender
Roll Call Contributing Writer
Feb. 28, 2012, Midnight
Congressional Republicans so far have been adamant that reductions in the projected spending assumed in the federal budget baseline for projected continuing military activities in Afghanistan must not be used to offset the cost of anything.
This quote from House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) stands out in an excellent story in yesterday's The Washington Post by Scott Wilson and Greg Jaffe on how the White House worked with the Pentagon on the military spending strategy Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last week:
“an honest and valid strategy for national defense can’t be founded on the premise that we must do more with less or less with less.”
Yes, I know this is just the chairman of an authorization committee defending his jurisdiction. And, yes, I know that McKeon is from a state that relies heavily on federal military spending.
But "do more with less" and a smaller government supposedly are basic principles of the GOP these days. What is McKeon saying?
I'll have much more to say about this tomorrow when my first Roll Call column for 2012 is published, but I thought it important to start raising a key point about this year's budget debate now: The GOP is going to have to work much harder this year to get the Obama administration to respond to it on the budget.
The reason? There will be very few opportunities for congressional Republicans to force a confrontation with the White House this year on budget issues by holding anything hostage. In fact, other than the extension of the payroll tax cut that will expire at the end of February, there will be no budget-related deadlines Republicans in the House and Senate will be able to to use for leverage with the administration until fiscal 2013 begins on October 1...a month before the election.
That means there are two primary questions for this year as the budget debate gets underway:
I was told on February 28th when I spoke at the House tea party caucus (described here on CG&G) that the tea party folks in Virginia didn't trust either Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) or Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA). The statement about Cantor was more startling and important because the chairwoman of the tea party in the commonwealth is from his congressional district and she was one of the people who spoke at the meeting.
So it's anything but surprising that, as David Rogers and Jake Sherman reported late yesterday in Politico (hat tip, Ezra Klein), Cantor seems to be moving with a vengeance toward the tea party and away from Boehner in the budget negotiations. Indeed, given what I heard at the tea party caucus, Cantor's political survival may depend on him doing that.
I'm curious about two things that Rogers and Sherman didn't discuss.
Over at TPM, Brian Buetler has this gem of a story about how House Republicans are "Preparing to Reject Final White House Budget Offer." The post is worth reading in its entirety if for no other reason than to confirm that the House GOP isn't interested in doing anything if it can't be characterized as total capitulation by House Democrats, Senate Democrats, and the White House. As Ezra Klein says over at his blog at The Washington Post,
Reading this, you really wouldn’t know that Democrats, who control both the White House and the Senate, technically have a lot more power than Republicans, who only control the House. At the very least, no one appears to have told this to the Republicans.