The Cowards of Congress

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price, and Senator Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Price, and Senator Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee

The Republican chairmen of the Congressional budget committees announced that they will not hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s final budget proposal.  This is more than yet another eye-rolling display of political petulance, it is a measure of how truly shameful GOP disrespect for civil governance — and our president — has become.  There is no excuse for it, political or otherwise.

This isn’t about the president submitting a late outline, as some might suggest.  These things are rarely on time.  In fact, Congress was late last year – very late – not passing a budget until December 18, seventy-nine days after the start of Fiscal 2016.  Rather than respect budget deadlines, you could argue that the GOP has learned to manipulate, not adhere, to them.  Isn’t this true?  Rather than being matters of governing responsibly, budget deadlines have become playthings in a dangerous game of legislative chicken.

And don’t let Republicans tell you they are being practical or pragmatic when they refuse hearings on budget proposal from an outgoing president, sparing us the trouble of ideas that will pass in the next election.  Indeed, the record shows precisely the opposite of anything practical or pragmatic from Republicans.  This is about saving time and money, either; after all, this is the party that has wasted millions of dollars and countless hours of legislative time to cast more than 60 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, something everyone, including the lawmakers playing this charade, know won’t and cannot happen in the current political order.  (The last such wasted effort occurred just last week.)

So what’s going on here?  We already know Republicans, as a matter of policy, stand in opposition to the President and his efforts, almost entirely without regard to what those efforts might be.  However, by rejecting the budget proposal without even as much as a summary hearing…well, that’s something else entirely.  It is more than simple bitter loathing of a president they reject.  It is cowardly.

When the president submits his budget, whether you agree with it or not, it is an opportunity for serious people to respond, including those who oppose it, in part or in whole.  One would hope that such a response would include ideas and counter-proposals.  What, for example, is the GOP plan for the nation’s future and how do they propose funding it?  Sadly, expecting a thoughtful debage might asking too much.  None the less, engaging the proposal — rather than hiding from it — presents an opportunity for competent politicians to make points; it presents a stage where one can be on record outlining an alternative plan.

We can surmise, therefore, that perhaps Republicans have no alternative plan to offer.  Or do they hate this president so much that they will muffle their own proposals just to inflict an insult?  In this case — barring any unnoticed evidence to the contrary — this probably is a pragmatice move.  However, the only thing “pragmatic” about Republican leaders refusing to schedule hearings is doing so in order to evade exposing their own malfeasance.  To wit, those who haven’t any altnernate plan in the first place won’t be called to offer one.  Clearly – and quite literally – the Republican Congress is in no place now for thoughtful policymaking.  They’re not even pretending anymore.

And Republicans claim they want to lead…

Today people in New Hampshire are casting votes for Republican candidates who aspire to one day be the President of the United States.  Is there any hope here?  Unfortunately, no…not really.  Scratching beneath the surface of today’s superficial campaigning one finds little of substance.  About budgets specifically, to what standard are these candidates held when it comes to the nation’s finances?  Virtually none.  It is so exceedingly bizarre that we have one candidate who appears half-serious about forcing other nations to pay for his outrageous plans.  And people cheer.

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