Firedoglake points out that, as mentioned above, the document might not be as concrete as it as being touted to be. David Dayen points to a question Weigel asked at the announcement before ruminating on the true value of this document, which may not be its actual proposals:
When asked by Dave Weigel how many jobs would be eliminated by cutting funding to these priorities, head of the Republican Study Committee and future high school football assistant coach Jim Jordan (R-OH) said, “We think if you reduce federal government spending, you actually create jobs.” It must comfort him at night. It’s based on nothing, but it must make it easier to sleep. Talking point Ny-Quil.
While the above cuts are actually identified (the full list is here), the cap on discretionary spending at 2006 levels is mostly just assumed, so once again we have this claim that we can “cut spending” without any sense of all that would have to be cut to meet the cap. Only $330 billion out of the $2.25 trillion in cuts have a specific named source. So again, Democrats trying to argue with this document are left to largely chase phantoms.
The value in this document is knowing that the battle lines have been drawn. Republicans in the House want $80 billion in cuts this year, and trillions over the next ten. Now it’s the President’s move. And the end of the continuing resolution on March 4, as well as the need to increase the debt limit, hang out there over the horizon.
I was particularly drawn to Bradford Plumer’s piece posted midnight yesterday, “The GOP’s Serious Budget Headache,” which sheds some interesting light on internal problems for the Republicans separate from the Tea Party vs. the Establishment story. Plumer gets very, well, specific.
Yet even the RSC was careful to tiptoe around the fate of more popular programs. (Pell Grants? Home heating-oil assistance?) And for good reason: Republicans may not lose sleep over scuttling, say, the union-friendly Bacon-Davis Act (an RSC proposal that would lead to $1 billion per year in savings). But what happens when NASA’s budget gets ripped apart? Republicans in Texas, Florida, and Alabama, where NASA offices and facilities are concentrated, may not be overly thrilled. Or how about when subsidies for flights to remote parts of the country get squeezed 30 percent? Rural lawmakers get ornery. Squabbles like these ended up sinking GOP attempts to cut spending in the early 2000s. As one former appropriations aide told FoxNews, “It’s the little stuff that everybody fights the hardest about.”
He then concludes with a nod to the potential for future internal conflict of the nature most are seeing bubbling up.
In other words, conservatives haven’t quite worked out all the kinks. And, in the meantime, Republican leaders haven’t figured out how to balance the zeal of their right flank with the headaches involved in getting those cuts to stick. Sure, Jordan said he was “optimistic” that the GOP leadership would take up the RSC’s recommendations, and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor “applaud[ed]” the committee’s proposal. But, underneath all the happy accolades, there’s still plenty of room for ugliness.
We will be tuning in Tuesday to see specifics debated and (perhaps) fissures erupting.