Ever since his Inaugural Address, President Obama has accused the Republicans of being the “Party of ‘No’.” First he accused unnamed critics of peddling “stale arguments” but soon he started pointing the finger directly at the GOP, contending that they lacked anything constructive to offer.
It was a natural tactic for someone who ran as the Agent of Change against Washington, where good ideas “go to die,” as he put it during the campaign. And he kept that drumbeat up during the stimulus plan debate, accusing his opponents of wanting to “do nothing.” He continues to deride the Republicans as lacking ideas.
But the reality is quite different. ABC’s Jake Tapper tied up White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in verbal knots recently by pointing out that Minority Whip Eric Cantor handed the president a list of suggestions while the stimulus was being drafted, but the president didn’t seem to adopt many (any?) of these.
Now Republicans see an opening. The president is reeling under the AIG bonus scandal. And more Democrats are taking issue with his gargantuan budget. Politico reports:
There is rising doubt among Democrats — particularly moderates already concerned about the big costs and deficits called for in Obama’s budget — that either Obama or Washington have enough bandwidth this year to stimulate the economy, overhaul the failed financial sector, and move on to a far-reaching domestic agenda. “From the standpoint of the Congress, there’s only so much that we can absorb and do at one time,” Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, told Politico Tuesday. “To maintain a schedule like the one we’ve got at this moment, throughout the year, I don’t know if it will be healthy.”
So the Republicans have decided the time is right to rebut the president directly. Their message: the GOP may be the party of no — to bad ideas — but they also have many good ones to offer as alternatives to the Democrats’ spending, taxing, and borrowing bonanza.
Minority Leader John Boehner has a new video out listing a number of Republican themes and promising a Republican alternative budget from reformer Rep. Paul Ryan. The themes are simple: lower taxes, restrain the growth of government, a market-based health care plan, domestic energy development, and ending bailout mania. Boehner’s video does not have many details, but its core message is clear: Republicans are tired of being the punching bag for an administration that wishes to paint itself as the only source of ideas capable of solving the country’s problems.