A GOP talking point after the fiscal cliff settlement was that tax increases outnumbered spending cuts by 41:1. Well, duh, it was a tax bill. The GOP couldn't get spending cuts into the bill because they had no leverage, and they wasted all the negotiation time haggling over tax issues, not spending. They could have tried to trade cooperation for some cuts, or a debt ceiling increase for cuts, but that wasn't their focus.
Now, they want to avenge their defeat, but their first plan sucks. They say they won't vote for a debt ceiling increase without an equal amount of spending cuts. However, they won't specify what spending cuts they want. There are some logical reasons for this:
- They don't want their name on painful, unpopular cuts.
- The Democrats will demagogue against cuts that the GOP proposes, and try to gain electoral advantage on the issue.
- It's the president's responsibility to provide a roadmap for the future spending.
They also need to have a real plan, not a fuzzy plan like the Ryan budget. They can't propose Medicare vouchers because that's a non-starter. They will have to breathe deep and plunge into some real budgeting. Along with the blame, they would also pick up some credit.
I'd be surprised if Boehner or Ryan will do this. It's possible, but they haven't gotten much into the nitty-gritty before. Perhaps some senators will do it, though the gang of six or eight has been shrinking. Still, this seems like a potentially great project for some policy-oriented wonk, elected or not.
Perhaps in a few weeks we'll be flooded with plans, including a couple good ones. This SHOULD happen, because there's a veritable vacuum right now, and nature is supposed to abhor a vacuum. Just don't expect anything from Obama. He's obviously going to be involved in the negotiations (if any), and he'll take enough hits that way. He's got little to gain by going first on cuts, and he's not a visionary on these issues. Anyone waiting for his leadership is naive or has an axe to grind.
The GOP: Too scared to be scissors. The Dems: Paper all the way.