House Republicans today made a big show about how they were going to drop their own brand-new alternate budget proposal, packed with urban-suburban hip-hop "flava" and dance moves Eric Cantor learned at the Verizon Center, watching Britney Spears. As it turns out, READY THEY WERE NOT, and so everyone is making fun of them, and it.
And look: I know that a lot has changed since that first, much-hyped-but-ultimately-detail-free attempt that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made at presenting his bank bailout plan. You know...Watchmen opened, and we've all filled out our NCAA brackets, and that guy from American Idol who desecrated the corpse of Johnny Cash got himself a haircut and wasn't half bad on the teevee last night. And yet, I still remember Geithner, rightly getting criticized for a presentation that did not live up to the advance word that President Barack Obama himself put out on the street. The administration, quite rightly, took their lumps for suggesting Geithner was going to deliver the goods when, in reality, he was far from ready for prime time. And the GOP, fairly, led that chorus of criticism.
But for all the criticism, the Geithner lesson didn't seem to be a teachable one. And, as far as MSNBC's Contessa Brewer was concerned, she wasn't having it:
Later, Norah O'Donnell asked Mike Pence to provide basic details, to no avail. Pence continued to talk about details as forthcoming. O'Donnell sort of thought that having continually criticized the administration for projecting a long-term deficit figure, that it was absurd that the GOP couldn't even offer their own projection for the sake of comparison. Pence suggested that the very fact that the GOP plan was getting criticized constituted "progress." Uhm...not really.
Later, O'Donnell discussed the matter further with Mark Whittaker:
O'DONNELL: I had Congressman Mike Pence on just a short time ago, and I said, "You criticized the deficit numbers of the President's [budget proposal], what would be the deficit under your budget proposal," and he said we haven't come up with the numbers yet. Is this a serious proposal?
WHITTAKER: Look, this is Kabuki theatre at this point, because in the House side, Nancy Pelosi doesn't need the Republicans to get the budget through. And in the Senate, I think there's more and more a sense in Washington, that they're headed toward a legislative tactic called budget reconciliation that would allow them to pass the bill in the Senate...without a filibuster...I think that the Republicans are positioning themselves for 2010.
Well, if not Kabuki Theatre, it has at least been happy hour at the Chuckle Hut, as various figures on the Democratic side have tried out their best material at the expense of this budget plan. The DNC's Hari Sevugan was looking like he'd have the zing of the day with this statement:
"After 27 days, the best House Republicans could come up with is a 19-page pamphlet that does not include a single real budget proposal or estimate. There are more numbers in my last sentence than there are in the entire House GOP budget."
But that was before Robert Gibbs offered: "There's one more picture of a windmill than there are charts of numbers. And there's exactly one picture of a windmill."
But that's not the worst of it: Politico's Glenn Thrush is reporting that critics of this "blueprint budget" include Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, and that the whole proposal is part of a Mike Pence ego trip.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) objected to an abbreviated alternative budget "blueprint" released today -- but were told by House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) they needed to back the plan, according to several Republican sources.
"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," said a GOP aide heavily involved in budget strategy.
"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," the person added.