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GOP Split Over Budget Alternative

By Ben Pershing

President Obama's budget "spends too much, taxes too much and borrows too much." And so do the budget proposals of House and Senate Democrats. On this talking point, nearly all congressional Republicans agree. After that, things get a little tricky.

On the day when the House Budget Committee took up its version of the spending blueprint and Obama came to the Capitol to lobby his former Democratic colleagues in the Senate, Republicans spoke mostly with one voice on the flaws in the majority's plans. But the GOP is split on whether to formulate a budget proposal of its own - House Republicans are writing an alternative measure, while Senate Republicans aren't -- possibly complicating their efforts to sell themselves as more responsible stewards of the federal treasury than the current party in power.

First of all, House Republicans just want it known that they are writing a plan of their own. There will be a "substantive, comprehensive Republican alternative in the next 24 hours," House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said this afternoon.

That fact seems worth emphasizing after Obama lashed out at Republican critics during his news conference last night, saying: "We haven't seen an alternative budget out of them." Many Republicans are still smarting from the debate over the economic stimulus package, when Democrats frequently charged - inaccurately - that the GOP had not presented a plan of its own. So the House GOP wants to make it better-known this time that they have an alternative vision.

But at the same time, some budget hawks in the chamber are disappointed that their Senate counterparts aren't also offering up a budget plan.

"I wish they would, but I wouldn't expect them to," said Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). "It's not very Senate-like."

But Flake disputed the idea that the Senate's failure to offer an alternative would hamper the party's broader message. "As long as House Republicans do, I think we're okay," he said.

Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) declined to pass judgment on the Senate GOP's position, but he did say that he believed House Republicans would not be in a position to attack Obama's budget if they didn't have a plan of their own.

"I always believe that every criticism should be accompanied by a viable alternative," Franks said.

Speaking to reporters today, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag made a similar point. "I haven't seen on the Senate side an alternative budget and my understanding is there won't be one. So it's kind of -- it seems off to be criticizing without putting forward an alternative," Orszag said.

So why aren't Senate Republicans stepping up to the plate?

"Pretty simple, really," said Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "The minority in the House typically gets one shot [on the floor] -- one amendment. In the Senate, under the budget rules, we have numerous amendments, numerous possibilities to correct the flaws in a budget that spends, taxes and borrows too much. Different chambers, different rules, different procedures."

It's true that Senate Republicans will get more opportunities on the floor to modify the bill than House Republicans will. But it's also true that by only offering piecemeal amendments rather than a full-fledged alternative, Senate Republicans will avoid having to make the tough choices inherent in the budget process. Which tax cuts would they make permanent? How would they deal with the Alternative Minimum Tax? Would they pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan inside or outside the regular budget?

Instead, the Senate GOP has decided not to force its members to take potentially tough votes on those issues, particularly since their alternative budget - if it existed - would have zero chance of being enacted.

By tomorrow, we should know more details about how exactly House Republicans decided to make those tradeoffs. And we already know all about the plans offered by Obama and congressional Democrats, warts and all. But it looks like we'll never know how the Senate GOP would juggle those priorities, or at least, not until they win back the majority. Then they won't have much of a choice.

By Ben Pershing  |  March 25, 2009; 4:20 PM ET
Categories:  Agenda , GOP Leaders , Purse Strings  
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The GOP is split, because they have no idea how to begin or come up with any solutions that would kick start the economy and keep it growing in the outlying years. They have no clue. Many of these people do not have the abilities to look at the bigger picture. In other words, they can not see the forest for the trees.

Therefore, if they even tried to come up with their own plan, it would be completely lacking on the things that are so desperately needed for the country. Unless, of course, they steal much of what is in Obama's plan.

Posted by: lcarter0311 | March 25, 2009 5:22 PM | Report abuse

The republicans have a plan, it's a plan they have stuck to religiously for the last eight years, and their plan worked to perfrction. The repuiblican plan, appropriately titled, The "Do to America What Osama Bin Laden Could Not Economic Destruction Act of 2001", Osama couldn't be prouder of his American suporters. Plan, of course they have a plan......

Posted by: dem4life1 | March 25, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Republicans may or may not have an alternative plan. As seen previously their aim is a) for economy to worsen further, and b) for the President to fail so that in the next election in 2010 they can win over both house and senate. I wish they were looking for what is good for our Country and not what is good for their Party. This is so shameful. Atleast they should have supported those provisions that improve economy and unemployment. But for them it is about their Party only.

Posted by: sungal | March 25, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Did you see the cartoon today It shows President Obama delivering the mail (the stimulus, health care reform, energy reform, education, etc.) while about ten thousand little GOP dogs yap at his heels. That's all the GOP can do--YAP! YAP! YAP!

Posted by: tinyjab40 | March 25, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Until Republicans take responsibility for screwing up the country, there's nothing they can say or do that will help. If all they can say is, "No Taxes", No government regulation, No immigrants, No sex, No evolution, No Unions, No separation of Church and State, No Constututional Rights, No Judges, etc, blah, blah", then we've heard it all before, we've seen the result. It's why we're in the mess we're in.

Obama is trying to put out the fire and they complain about wasting water! What a bunch of Morons.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 25, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the posts here pretty much sum it up. The American Taliban Insurgency (See "Osama Tex" Pete Sessions) are determined to destroy Obama and whatever collateral damage befalls our nation, so be it.
They know that when Obama is successful (and he WILL BE) that they are history.
Obama needs to rally the people and that's what he's so good at.

Posted by: TOMHERE | March 25, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

No worries, Wall Street hasn't figured out how to divide up the tax cuts they want.

Until the marching orders come down from the CEO's, the Republicans are speechless.


Posted by: DEFJAX | March 25, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

"Republicans will avoid having to make the tough choices inherent in the budget process. Which tax cuts would they make permanent? How would they deal with the Alternative Minimum Tax? Would they pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan inside or outside the regular budget?"

i could care less about whether republicans make hypothetical "hard choices" than whether the party with complete control in washington makes them.

how bout just scraping obama's needless, flawed and expensive health care plan?

thats 600 billon right there, just enough to pay for another bank bailout

Posted by: dummypants | March 25, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Until Republicans take responsibility for screwing up the country, there's nothing they can say or do that will help.

whats with all the rage?

besides, thats a non-sequiter. arent dems supposed to be perfectly logical beings?

Posted by: dummypants | March 25, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

The same Republicans that criticize the Obama Budgets voted for the 2003 Taxcuts and had no concern about the Bush war costs,annual deficits of hundreds of billions of dollars,and incompetent appointees who cut auditors and regulators that might have saved us from financial disaster. There is plenty of blame to go around. Congress needs to save our ship--the USA under the command of Pres.Obama.

Posted by: geminijoan | March 25, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama is going abut it all wrong.

What we need are MORE tax cuts for the rich and more incentives to off-shore American jobs!

- G. Bush & D. Cheney

Posted by: beenthere3 | March 25, 2009 10:49 PM | Report abuse

My grand dad had a saying that pertains to this," If you have nothing constructive to add,keep your yap shut!"

Posted by: asclepious2 | March 26, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Well, for the past 6 years Bush made the budget and the republicans signed it and that was it. Now all of a sudden some of them came up with a brain fart. {TO LATE}

Posted by: SWAMPYPD | March 26, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

The Republican plan? The only plan the GOP has, will ever have, is to cut taxes for the rich and put it to the middle class. The current leadership in the Senate and House wouldn't know an original idea if it hit them in the face. This group of no-gooders is now known as the 'gang that couldn't shoot straight.' But lest I seem one-sided in my criticisms, let's not forget the losers on the other side of the aisle. Truth to tell, it was the enablers in both parties who got us where we are today.

Posted by: Diogenes | March 26, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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