Cal  Thomas

The following is not parody.

House Republicans are being told by their leaders to run campaigns this fall on a platform of fiscal discipline that includes cutting spending. This from a party that has given us new entitlement programs resembling Lyndon Johnson's Great Society; this from a party that has set new records in "earmarks" for pork barrel projects in their home districts and states; this from a party that under Ronald Reagan at least tried to eliminate the Department of Education, but under President Bush has thrown new money at it with no appreciable improvement in academic achievement.

To what should we compare this laugher? How about to a member of Alcoholics Anonymous who gets drunk between meetings and then gets up to testify that he has not had a drink in the last 10 minutes? Or, Madonna endorsing modesty.

House Majority Leader John Boehner has published a list of Republican talking points he wants members to use in their campaigns to convince voters they are reducing spending and tag Democrats with being "fiscally irresponsible."

There is much from which to choose for entertainment purposes. One of my favorites is Boehner's touting of the line-item veto proposal to "help rein in spending." This fiscal chastity belt will, according to Boehner, "make Congress more accountable for the spending it proposes, help eliminate worthless pork, and protect taxpayer dollars with a budget based on fiscal discipline." (Pause for guffaws from readers).

Yes, the deficit is coming down, but not because of fiscal discipline by the Republican majority or President Bush, who has yet to veto a single spending bill (or any bill). The roaring economy is responsible for the deficit decline. New tax revenue has been produced and Republicans can claim credit because of their tax cuts. But unless Republicans reduce spending, the deficit will increase when the economy cools and Democrats, should they ever again become a majority, can be counted on to raise taxes as well as spend. Where spending is concerned, the two parties are identical twins.

Boehner should consult Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) for examples of where this newly discovered fiscal discipline might begin. One place is the Health and Human Services/Labor Department fiscal 2007 spending bill. CAGW found many "egregious earmarks."

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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