Tired of hearing people invoke “the last eight years?” Politicians and TV talking heads have found a new catchphrase: the Republican Party is the party of “no.” No plans, no new legislation, no change (especially no technology).
For what it’s worth, saying “no” is part of the minority party’s job. A very important part, actually, since there aren’t many opportunities to pass legislation when you’re at the mercy of the majority’s agenda.
But this “no plan” accusation struck me as odd because I’ve had to write about some Republican alternatives for months now. Yet, beginning with the stimulus debate, the catchphrase consumed media outlets faster than Jared consumes Subway.
There was a very real alternative to the stimulus: the Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Relief Act of 2009, or H.R. 470. You can read it here. I’d say check the roll call vote on it, but there is none, because the Democrats never let it come to the floor for a vote.
And H.R. 470 isn’t the only alternative Republicans have offered in 2009. For example …
1. Stimulus: The GOP offered the Economic Recovery and Middle-Class Relief Act of 2009, which, according to an analysis based on Dr. Christina Romer’s work, created twice the jobs at half the cost of the President’s so-called “stimulus.” (Romer is chair of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers).
2. Budget: It’s tradition for the minority party to offer an alternate budget proposal. The Republicans had not one, but two, alternatives this time: Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget proposal and the Republican Study Committee budget proposal (which actually balanced the budget by 2019). Ryan’s proposal even simplified the tax code to where you could have filed your taxes on a postcard. If that’s not an attractive idea, I’m Kobe Bryant.
3. Cap-and-Trade: The RSC just put out The American Energy Innovation Act (H.R. 2300), which unlike the Dems’ bill, will not impose additional costs on taxpayers and will actually increase our energy supply, not shrink it. There are also several mechanisms to reward clean technology and innovation and simultaneously encourage production.
4. Card Check: Rep. John Kline introduced The Secret Ballot Protection Act (though versions of this have been offered before) to protect the right of employees to a secret-ballot election.
Michael Steel, press secretary in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office, emphasized again what the party’s philosophy has been in crafting alternative legislation: to work with the president whenever possible, and when not possible, to offer better solutions rooted in GOP principles. The House Republicans also have a series of solutions groups that work to prepare alternatives on the major areas, like energy, health care, economy-housing, and even savings (this group offered the Savings Recovery Act at the end of April).
It’s sad enough people had to resort to a lie for their talking point. What’s pathetic is that people still try to use it. The only reason the Democrats continue to get away with this is that the Republicans have apparently been gagged by the Inside-the-Beltway media.
Joy Behar, filling in for Larry King, repeated a version of this “no solutions” stereotype to Ann Coulter when the two were discussing the stimulus (“What have the Republicans come up with? They have no plan.”). One CNN guest used it weeks after the stimulus– the anchor finally had to call the guest out on it, to which he mumbled some response like, “Well, not any good ones, anyway.”
Please, give Americans an answer that doesn’t insult their intelligence. I know in D.C. that a twenty-something is supposed to know nothing except when it comes to Twitter and Facebook, but even I can figure out that if the Republican alternatives were really as weak as Democrats advertise, it would be more effective to turn each piece of legislation into Swiss cheese on air rather than deny it exists.
Like or hate the alternatives, at least now you know they exist.