Lost in the round-the-clock coverage of the Egyptian revolution last week was the stunning announcement that the House GOP leadership was going to cut $32 billion from the current budget.
This same GOP leadership – House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan – had campaigned last year on the pledge of cutting $100 billion.
Then, after the election, they scaled that back to a revised pledge to cut $50 billion.
And now they have – again – scaled that back to $32 billion in non-security discretionary spending. And this is in a budget projected to run a $1.5 trillion.
All they can find is $32 billion?
And there are no specifics about these cuts. (They promise to reveal them this week.)
At the other side of the conservative wing sits the tea party movement and their demand to cut much, much more. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina has called for $250 billion per year – for 10 years – for a total of $2.5 trillion.
Quite a gap, eh?
And there is certain to be quite an explosion on the right when this pathetically meager $32 billion cut – some will call it a “timid sell-out” – is made public.
Here’s the rub: cutting government spending is very, very difficult. There are huge political and economic costs. Who is angered by these cuts? Which constituencies? Which lobbyists? How many government layoffs are created in an already tight job market?
Public opinion polls show the American people support generalizations such as “we need to reduce government spending,” but when specific cuts are proposed, the majority is against each one, especially entitlement cuts and reforms (which, along with the Pentagon, is where 85 percent of federal spending is.)
Conclusion: there is about to be a major clash between the GOP establishment and the tea party over government spending cuts. And this will be a world-class battle, one that will spread into the 2012 GOP presidential primaries.
This will get ugly – with the presidential candidates pulled to the right and thus opposing the party’s establishment.
What a mess.
Meanwhile, at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue the president has pushed too hard in public against our ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. It is one thing to privately have an American envoy urge Mubarak to resign; it is altogether a different matter to do it in public as President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have done. They have embarrassed Mubarak – and thus earned disdain from our long-time ally.
The result is our other Mideast allies are aghast and furious. Jordan, Iraq, the Saudis, even the Israelis. Several others are openly questioning just how loyal a friend President Obama really is? They correctly see a headline-happy publicity hound – Barack Obama – who cares only about one man: Barack Obama.
There will be consequences – perhaps dire - to Obama’s readiness to dispatch an ally.
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