Conservatives have been lambasting President Barack Obama for proposing a budget that allegedly taxes too much, spends too much, and borrows too much. Naturally, the administration started pushing its opponents to offer an alternative since if you commit to cutting taxes and borrowing less than Obama, then the only thing you can do is propose brutal and unpopular spending cuts. And yesterday Rep Paul Ryan (R-WI) offered up his April Fool’s Budget, full of draconian cuts, and goofy analysis and gimmicks. Now that the leadership has officially gone on record with an alternative “budget,” however, they’re not going to actually try to get vulnerable members to vote for it. But they are going to keep whipping opposition to the President’s plan:
Republican leaders have panned the Democratic plan for “spending too much, taxing too much and borrowing too much,” and are whipping Members against it, but not whipping for the GOP alternative, said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the Chief Deputy Whip.
The biggest issue for Republicans in sticking together at today’s vote rests with their moderates, who may balk at measures contained in the GOP blueprint, which includes a five-year freeze on domestic discretionary spending. Last year, 38 Republicans opposed Ryan’s budget proposal.
“A lot of the middle-of-the-road Republicans are thinking of voting against it,” Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) said.
Emerson said that the GOP proposal’s numbers were not even adjusted for inflation and that it was a pretty hefty lift. But she added that she had yet not read Ryan’s blueprint.
Thus there’s still no alternative the opposition is willing to actually stand behind. This sort of thing is why it’s proving difficult to achieve any sort of bipartisan cooperation in Washington at the moment. The GOP leadership is leaning very hard on members to vote “no” on everything, but not doing anything to try to foster viable alternative proposals. That kind of one-sided party discipline is a recipe for polarization. They have their reasons for doing this, and I don’t begrudge them their right to use whatever legislative tactics they like best. But it should be understood that this is a tactical choice on their part and not something the White House could really stop.