In railing single-mindedly against the federal budget deficit — as open to charges of hypocrisy as it is — Republicans provided a rationale for their new, unrelenting rampage of budget cuts.
The stench of hypocrisy, of course, comes because the GOP began crying about the deficit only after it forced a temporary extension of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, all of which are financed by deficit spending.
Nevertheless, let’s leave that 800-pound double-standard alone for the time being.
What the Republicans have failed to do, however, is offer the American people any explanation of why they want to cut the specific programs they’ve targeted with their fiscal ax.
Why, for instance, do they want to slice environmental protection to the bone, and eliminate spending on PBS and NPR, for instance, but leave the bloated Pentagon budget pretty much as is?
Indeed, Republicans actually want to grow the federal deficit by nearly a half-billion dollars to fund a jet engine even the Department of Defense says is unnecessary.
Let’s also leave the dubious wisdom of that decision alone for now, given that the discussion of it would fill an entire column by itself.
Taken as a whole, however, Republicans have provided us citizens no roadmap to what they want to chop, and what they don’t.
In other words, to borrow a phrase, they seem to lack “the vision thing.”
And that absence has not gone unnoticed.
It’s not Democrats or other partisan opponents that care, but folks who Republicans need and want to be on their side.
People like H. Bliss Dayton. Dayton’s a banker from fiscally conservative New Hampshire, but even he doesn’t get why Republicans are doing what they’re trying to do.
“I see a lot of potential for reckless cutting,” Dayton told a Washington Post reporter for a story about the GOP’s spending plans. “What I don’t see is much discussion of what’s the purpose of having a public sector, and how should it be designed?”
Slick buzzwords like “limited government” and generalities won’t cut it.
Voters like Dayton want particulars. They want to know just what kind of government Republicans plan to provide, specifically what it would do and what it wouldn’t do.
At least one Democrat, on the other hand, already has her specifics at the ready.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois produced her plan last year as a member of President Obama’s deficit-reduction commission.
Schakowsky’s presents an approach to cut the deficit without “further eroding the middle class in America.”
Schakowsky knows people may criticize some of her ideas. That doesn’t bother her, as she says that ”I gladly subject my ideas to the public, knowing that protecting Social Security and Medicare benefits, investing in jobs, and asking the richest Americans to contribute more, represents a majority view despite the inside-the-beltway conventional wisdom of what is possible.”
In other words, she understands that Americans like our friend the banker from New Hampshire want something more than slogans and glib promises.
And that’s something Republicans haven’t yet shown the courage for.