Pethokoukis, Economics, Taxes and Spending

Will the House GOP budget really be a huge political plus in 2014?

031913budget

Well, this explains a lot. House Republicans clearly believe proposing and passing a budget that balances in ten years will be a big plus for them in the 2014 midterm elections. As Politico reports, an internal GOP poll finds that not only do Republicans and Independents love the idea, 45% of Democrats support it, too. Large majorities in key districts think balancing the budget will create jobs. Even better for House Rs, those voters seem to like their specific approach: Getting to balance via entitlement reform and spending cuts. After the 2012 debacle, a silver bullet.

But I see some problems here:

1. Will voters love the actual House balanced-budget plan as much as the general idea? The blueprint’s weak points — such as keeping Obama’s taxes but not Obamacare’s spending and deep cuts to discretionary spending — gives ammo to those who will question its seriousness. Because GOPers reject a) raising revenue by limiting tax breaks for higher income Americans, and b) accelerating Medicare reform, they are forced into using budgetary gimmicks to make the math able to hit their arbitrary fiscal target. One decision makes it easy to paint them as the party of the rich, the other like they don’t have the courage of their convictions.

2. Mitt Romney edged President Obama on who would better handle the economy and budget deficit, but got swamped on the empathy issue. By devoting even more capital to a macro issue where it already has an edge, the GOP risks delaying the development of a detailed and coherent policy agenda to deal with the many other problems that legitimately concern voters, such as health care and education. It’s like they are further reinforcing a Maginot Line that Democrats have the opportunity to nimbly sidestep.

3. The balanced budget plan also delays policymakers having a real conversation with center-right voters about how much, realistically, government spending can shrink given the need for the US to remain a global military superpower and the aging of the US population. The contortions evident in the GOP budget itself are evidence of this.

4. There is nothing wrong with proposing ideas voters actually like. There is nothing wrong with proposing less-than-perfect policies that have a better chance of winning voters or passing Congress than idealized versions. “Don’t let your 80% friend become your 20% enemy” and all that. And by focusing on the need for spending cuts and entitlement reform rather than tax hikes, the House GOP budget is far, far better directionally than the Senate Democratic alternative. But, in the end, the plan is too much about marketing and message and too little about sustainable solutions.

6 thoughts on “Will the House GOP budget really be a huge political plus in 2014?

  1. I can’t fathom why somebody would spend any energy criticizing the GOP budget as “unserious” while Obama’s budget is over a month late and counting. The Democrat Senate’s 1st budget in 4 yrs hikes taxes and raises spending above the baseline and never balances the budget.

    “By devoting even more capital to a macro issue where it already has an edge, the GOP risks delaying the development of a detailed and coherent policy agenda to deal with the many other problems that legitimately concern voters, such as health care and education. ”

    Huh? What are the risks? Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee. His job is to produce a budget. Let the Health and Education guys come out with their own plans that will get exactly nowhere as long as Reid and Obama are standing in the way.

  2. what’s worse? not having a budget that Paul “likes” or having a budget Paul “likes” that is bogus to the bone?

    ;-)

    The problem with bogus budget is…the word gets out…and people do realize that when you count revenues from a tax you’d repeal – that it opens up the whole thing to be suspect …and rightly so.

    there’s nothing substantially wrong with SS that cannot be fixed with some fairly easy things – IF you are not ideologically opposed to the CONCEPT of SS.

    there’s nothing wrong with getting rid of Medicare Advantage and making people who get more than 70K in retirement income pay substantially more for Medicare and even have people with less income pay more, have higher co-pays, etc – unless of course you are ideologically opposed to the CONCEPT of Medicare.

    80% of the American people support the CONCEPT of SS and Medicare and do expect to have to pay more to get them into fiscal balance but that’s not what Ryan is offering.

    ultimately no matter how he “talks” about it – sooner or later, the 80% will realize his true intentions.

    the problem with the GOP and their “budget” is not “messaging”, it’s the dishonest and disingenuous nature of their motivations.

    • Speaking of “dishonest and disingenuous,” Larry weighs in..

      “80% of the American people support the CONCEPT of SS and Medicare and do expect to have to pay more to get them into fiscal balance but that’s not what Ryan is offering.”

      Umm, dumbass, the “concept” of SS and Medicare are still there in the Ryan budget.

      Where’s that Obama balanced budget plan again, Larry? Also, once you locate it tell me why we should care since according to you he’s just the guy who signs the checks, nothing more.

  3. sounds good, but as long as the US continues to run trade deficits, it is impossible for the federal government to balance its budget while the private sector is deleveraging…every dollar of private sector surplus is always offset by a government sector deficit, and vice versa; its an accounting identity…
    thus the only time the Federal budget can come close to balance is when the private sector is going into debt in a substantial way, such as we saw during the boom years early last decade…

  4. The Ryan budget is trickle down on roids.I thought the last election settled the nations preferred path forward.Now the Ryan budget is going to be a plus for the GOP in the next election cycle,only if everybody develops amnesia.

    • “I thought the last election settled the nations preferred path forward.”

      Right, would you think that if Romney won? Or would you demand Democrats “stick to their principles?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>