The new GOP Budget plan is no longer a blueprint with pictures of circles and windmills. It's now fortified with a lot of numerals, and claims, and "math-like substances." But mainly, this plan seems to be brought to us by the number five.
See, remember back when John McCain was running to be President, and then briefly not-running for President, and then running for President again? During one of those three periods of time, he issued his grand fix for the ailing economy: a one-year freeze on discretionary spending. A dose of economic enervation at a time when stimulus was needed? This sounded deeply stupid to me! And a majority of Americans agreed. But that didn't stop this zombie idea in its tracks. No, no! The spending freeze was again touted as a solution this past month. What did people think about the idea? Well, liberal economist Paul Krugman pointed out, "That's not a retrogression to Herbert Hoover; even Hoover knew better than that." But, for balance, I'll include the opinion of David Brooks, who merely thought the idea was "insane."
Charles Grassley wouldn't let it go, and proposed a three-year spending freeze so that the greater economy could commit seppuku alongside certain AIG executives. And that brings us to today and the number five, because the NEW NEW IDEA is, uhm...the McCain spending freeze -- only QUINTUPLED. Sweet fancy Moses! These people have tried nothing and yet they're all out of ideas!
What would the world of a five-year freeze on discretionary spending look like? Let's let Matt Yglesias describe it:
Basically, you can imagine a school that today is serving a certain number of children and has a certain budget. Well, over the course of five years the population will grow and the number of kids in that school will also increase. But the school won't get any additional money. Instead, because there's inflation, the school will actually be getting less money even as it needs to teach more children. And so on across the board for federal programs. If you think that there's literally nothing in the entire federal budget that's useful, this may strike you as an appealing idea. Otherwise, April fools!
Matt also points out that the GOP's brilliant plan to cut the costs of senior citizens' health care is a brilliant, two-pronged approach:
1. Stop paying for it.
2. Hope that nobody notices.
And it could work, especially if retirees have the patriotic decency to go somewhere and quietly die!
Anyway, these are just highlights of a GOP budget plan that also gives people the option, maybe, of filing their taxes on a postcard, which I'm sure will make those complicated IMF tax regulations a lot easier for Tim Geithner. There's little chance of course that this plan will pass the House, because the GOP does not have enough votes in the House to do so. I might go out on a limb and suggest that the GOP's budget ideas and their low membership in Congress are, in some way, related.