This is only one of many articles in the national media that illustrates the political dilemma Republicans face by making "deficit reduction" the central plank in their platform. D.C. Republicans do not have the political will (or backing) to propose the type of action that would significantly reduce the budget deficit.
The bulk of the deficit problem instead comes from three popular programs, Medicare, Social Security and the military, and they happen to be the ones the Republican pledge exempts from cuts. But it's impossible to fix the deficit without making cuts to these programs or raising taxes. To suggest otherwise is to claim that 10 minus 1 equals 5.
The same game is being played out in Wisconsin, where Tom Barrett's contrived and corny plan to put ,a href=http://www.barrettforwisconsin.com/issues/madison_on_a_diet>"Madison on a Diet" looks like a policy masterpiece compared to Scott Walker's powerpoint presentation of vague slogans about taking on "frivolous lawsuits" and "eliminating red tape." In fact, the only concrete proposal Walker has made to cut taxes $1.8 billion would wreak fiscal havoc on the state budget in the short term.
There are state-level equivalents of defense, Medicare and Social Security. Is Walker going to cut prisons? Schools and property tax relief? Lawmakers have targeted UW in recent years, but it is hard to do that in the face of evidence that our state is in dire needs of college degrees and is losing professors because of inability to compete with neighboring states. Requiring state employees to contribute to their pensions would save some money, but how much, and how much can we target public employee benefits and pay without reducing the quality of the state government workforce, whose workers are twice as educated as the average private sector worker?
You have to wonder what Walker is actually going to do as governor? My guess is he is secretly hoping one chamber remains Democratic, so he can blame the utter impossibility of simultaneously cutting taxes and maintaining funding for essential services on the opposition party.