Republicans Need to Stand Up for an Alternative

Crossposted at The Rockefeller Republican

For the past two weeks the internet, cable tv and talk radio, have been awash in fiery rhetoric proclaiming the Democrat-proposed $3.6 trillion budget will be the ruin of America. They have been predicting a doomsday scenario of crushing debt and eventual federal bankruptcy if President Obama’s historic spending blueprint passes. All well and good- but what has the GOP offered as an alternative?

Republicans need to become more than just the party of “No.” As the legislature debates Obama’s nearly $4 trillion budget most Senate Republicans want to simply try to offer some weak amendments that the Democrats have more than enough votes to block. This is not going to set the table well for 2010. If conservatives are serious about regaining some measure of power in Washington then they need to show voters what they would be doing differently. Are there risks associated with that? Yes, there are. The hard truth about trying to save money is that things will need to be cut, which in turn affects people negatively. However, the American people as a whole understand the unique situation we are currently in, and when presented with the choice of tightening our national belt, or indenturing our great-great-grand children to our debt, most will opt for the former.

While many Senators want to take the obstructionist route John McCain is attempting to force his colleagues into presenting something substantial.

Republican leaders in the Senate are clashing with John McCain , their party’s 2008 presidential nominee. He wants to offer an alternative to the Democratic budget and they don’t.

The behind-the-scenes battle is part of a larger split in the Republican Party.

Some in the GOP believe their best strategy is to resist President Obama’s agenda and take carefully chosen shots through amendments they all agree on; others want the party to do more to demonstrate how a Republican imprint would be different. –

Republicans have already lost their chance to define their priorities on the stimulus package, the catchall appropriations law, and TARP. “We continue to be deemed the party of no,” McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said. The McCain plan “at least provides an alternative and outlines the issues that are important to the Republican Party.”

Republicans in the House have decided not to stand still and have released an alternative budget that would cut taxes and overhaul Medicare. The plan, drafted by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, also freezes spending on domestic programs passed by Congress each year and repeals most of the spending in Obama’s economic stimulus bill. Most intriguing are the tax reforms proposed in the bill. The alternative plan would offer a simplified tax code where couples would have the option of a 10 percent rate on the first $100,000 of income, with a 25 percent rate thereafter, with the first $25,000 of income exempt. Taxpayers could also choose to remain in the current system.

This bill of course has no chance of passing, but at least it can act as a visual to voters two years from now. For better or worse, This is what Republicans would have done. “This is the time to pare back government spending. It is not the time to fulfill every liberal dream and spend America into catastrophe,” Mitt Romney, ’08 primary runner-up, told CPAC in February. One can only wonder how a Romney led GOP would handle the current crisis.

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