The GOP House leadership continues to struggle over a $50 billion budget-cutting bill. They dropped ANWR in order to pick up some moderate Republican votes and they are desperately reaching out to Blue Dog Democrats. The Senate Finance Committee is marking up only a one-year tax-cut extension, despite the clear fact that the strong economy is based in large part on the huge incentive jolt from capital formation spurred by lower tax rates on dividends and capital gains. Symbolically, Intel just boosted its quarterly cash dividend by 25 percent.
Why Republicans don’t say more about the tax-cut related economic expansion is beyond me. And whether Tuesday’s disappointing election results provide a wake up call for the GOP remains to be seen. But they need a wake up call. Young Turks in the House like Mike Pence, Jeff Flake, and Marsha Blackburn should be represented in the House leadership. Ideas matter. Dick Armey was a great idea man. Speaker Dennis Hastert doesn’t seem to be a great idea man. The Tom DeLay period is probably over. New blood in the leadership is essential.
And speaking of new blood, where exactly is the White House proposal for budget cutting? Last week Bush said he was open to deeper budget cuts. But no new budget-cutting list has so far been unveiled by the OMB. The White House is not using the bully pulpit to lead the effort.
The public is clamoring for exactly this kind of budget (and tax) crusade. A specific budget proposal from the West Wing would be very helpful. The lack of one offers more evidence of Bush fatigue. Failure to provide a specific Social Security reform plan was a key reason for the downfall of this reform. Likewise, failure to publish a specific budget-cutting plan, which could energize the whole congressional process, may lead to the downfall of a significant budget cut this year.
Specific policies will beat inertia. But without specifics, the Democrats will gain more ground simply because the Republicans now running government are failing to meet taxpayer expectations.
This is a real problem. It ain’t going away.