Congressional Republicans yesterday leaked the details of President Obama’s initial outline of a deal to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Obama’s proposed package includes $1.6 trillion in revenue, new measures to boost the economy, an extension of both the current payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, and $400 billion in entitlement cuts. Those cuts are on top of the $1 trillion in cuts that are being enacted as part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling last year.
House Republicans immediately rejected Obama’s plan, and have spent the week complaining that Obama will not detail specific entitlement cuts (which neither Democrats nor the public particularly want). But when pressed for specific entitlement cuts desired by Republicans, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) has demurred, telling reporters yesterday, “You can look at our budget, where we outlined very specific proposals, where we passed in last year’s budget and the budget from the year before.”
Other congressional Republicans have echoed that sentiment. On Friday, Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) told MSNBC’s Chris Cillizza to “look at what we did before the election” to get a sense of what entitlement cuts Republicans want:
MSNBC’S CHRIS CILLIZZA: Congresswoman, thank you for joining me. We had some reporting from Kelly O’Donnell, MSNBC’s congressional report, earlier that said don’t expect any public counterproposal from Republicans. Can I ask you why not?
BLACK: Well, I think, Chris, that you can just look at what we did before the election. We have a plan on the table, both for reforming our greatest debt driver which is Social Security, actually, the Medicare is what we put the plan out for. And we also have a plan out there to avert the fiscal cliff and sequestration. So our plans are already there. And we’re just waiting for the President to actually come out with a plan. Everything we’re hearing is so one-sided. It’s all about taxes and now he’s telling us he wants to even spend $1.6 trillion more than what he had in his budget plans before.
Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) said the same thing during an interview on CNBC. The House Republican budget — authored by failed Vice Presidential nominee and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan — included voucherizing the Medicare program and gutting Medicaid. Previous iterations of the Ryan budget also privatized Social Security. Now, Republicans want Democrats to embrace those proposals, despite their unpopularity.
Cillizza not only failed to follow up with Black on why Republicans think Democrats should adopt policies that voters roundly rejected in November, he didn’t challenge Black’s false assertion that Social Security is a “driver” of the debt.