Ignoring Progressive Caucus, GOP Leadership Presents False Choice On Debt Reduction

April 18, 2011 11:41 am ET — Alan Pyke

Before they passed their budget resolution Friday afternoon, House Republicans offered a false frame for the debt debate — one in which our only choices are to drown in red ink or to help the GOP rip down the social safety net.

In his floor speech before the final vote, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) embraced the misnamed "Path to Prosperity." "We stand at a crossroads," Cantor said. "Before us lie two divergent paths. One defined by crushing debt, slow growth and diminished opportunity, and one defined by achievement, innovation and American leadership." Moments later, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) agreed that we have only two choices:

REP RYAN: Will we be remembered as the Congress that did nothing as the nation sped toward a preventable debt crisis and irreversible decline? Or will it instead be remembered as a Congress that did the hard work of preventing that crisis, the one that chose this Path to Prosperity? [...] We have a choice of two futures. But we have to make the right choice.


Forget the substance for just a moment, and consider the style of rhetoric Cantor and Ryan are employing in these remarks. (Political Correction and many other groups have already demonstrated that on substance, the GOP's budget resolution will be immensely harmful to the most disadvantaged in our society, even as it cuts taxes for the wealthiest to their lowest levels since Herbert Hoover was president.) Both Republican leaders pretend that America's choices are limited to "do nothing" or "follow the GOP's lead."

This is hugely dishonest. Republicans want you to believe that the only alternative to draconian cuts is indefinite economic stagnation, but there are other viable options that both address the debt and preserve important programs.

President Obama laid out one such alternative in his April 13 speech on the debt, driven by the belief that in America "we take responsibility for ourselves, and each other; for the country we want and the future we want to share."

In that spirit, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has laid out a robust plan of its own. The Economic Policy Institute says the progressive budget resolution would balance the budget in 2021 — a feat CBO says will take nearly 30 years under the GOP plan — by investing in job-creating infrastructure projects, bringing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to a close, and allowing most (but not all) of the budget-busting Bush tax cuts to expire.

Republicans may disagree with the Democrats' vision of our country. But in their zeal to cut spending and lower taxes on the upper class, they can't pretend there are no other options on the table.