House Republicans offer their own budget, sort of

In an attempt to cast off the "party of no" label, the GOP presented an alternative to President Obama's plan, but left out all the details.

Published March 26, 2009 8:40PM (EDT)

Republicans have been dogged recently by charges that they've just become "the party of no," a party that simply opposes everything President Obama proposes without coming forward with ideas of its own. In his press conference earlier this week, the president continued that line of attack, noting that his opponents had yet to advance an alternative to his budget.

So on Thursday, and to much fanfare, the House GOP unveiled its own plan. The decision was something of a gamble -- it gives Democrats something to attack, potentially forcing Republicans back on defense -- but it was apparently judged worthwhile, given the damage that "party of no" label has done. Thus far, though, it looks like the gamble has failed.

Long story short, the problem with the House GOP's proposal is that they don't really have one. What they have is a "blueprint" they're calling "The Republican Road to Recovery" (you can read it in PDF form here), but it's really just typical campaign fluff, almost completely free of any details and data. For example, here's all of the information provided in the document about the party's proposed spending cuts:

In addition to securing our nation’s major entitlements, by enacting common-sense reforms and weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse, Republicans propose to undo the recent reckless and wasteful Democrat spending binge included in the so-called “stimulus” and omnibus bills. In addition, Republicans would cut overall nondefense spending by reforming or eliminating a host of wasteful programs deemed ineffective by various government entities. And Republicans would fully fund our ongoing commitments overseas while devoting the entirety of any savings from reduced fighting to deficit reduction, rebuilding our military, and funding our commitment to our veterans.

There is a bit of detail provided about tax cuts; under the Republican plan, the marginal tax rate for income of up to $100,000 would be cut to 10 percent, and above that the rate would become 25 percent. There's also a deduction aimed at businesses with less than 500 employees; those companies would now be able to deduct 20 percent of their income. Notably, there's no information about the impact these changes would have on the size of the federal deficit, or what the proposal as a whole would do to the deficit.

So far, the response to the plan has been overwhelmingly negative. And now, various elements within the House GOP have started pointing fingers over the flop.

Politico's Glenn Thrush is reporting that both Minority Whip Eric Cantor and Rep. Paul Ryan,  the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, resisted the idea of releasing the plan today, as they were reportedly "embarrassed" by it and preferred to wait until Ryan introduces the official legislation next week. But, according to Thrush, House Minority Leader John Boehner and Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence told them they needed to roll the proposal out now because of the criticism they took from Obama on Tuesday.

"In his egocentric rush to get on camera, Mike Pence threw the rest of the Conference under the bus, specifically Paul Ryan, whose staff has been working night and day for weeks to develop a substantive budget plan," one unnamed "GOP aide heavily involved in budget strategy" told Thrush. "I hope his camera time was gratifying enough to justify erasing the weeks of hard work by dozens of Republicans to put forth serious ideas."

It probably wasn't -- Pence took a beating from MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell when he spoke with her about the plan earlier today. Video, via Think Progress, is below.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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