After the president's budget arrives and the State of the Union address is given, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and his colleagues will take the center stage and will have to fashion, announce and defend deep, deep cuts in federal spending. As the howls from the left will be high-pitched and long no matter what is proposed, there is no sense in going half way, and Ryan knows this and is prepared to carve away at the mass of subsidies that has flowed out of D.C. over the past four years of Nancy Pelosi's rule. The House GOP gets one chance at laying out its budget, and one chance to make the case for the massive downsizing that the international credit markets are waiting for. The difficulty in making this argument is that the Democrats know this will be their best chance to define the debate and with it Speaker Boehner's agenda, and thus the House GOP leadership has to impress on all of its members this weekend that the dumbest thing any of them says in the next four-to-eight weeks will be grabbed by the Democrats and the allied MSM and used to define the entire GOP and the budget debate. Each House member, in effect, holds the ability to destroy the messaging about the budget debate, and the message in Baltimore ought to be that if any member does so, he or she will be stripped of future position and authority in the caucus.
Although there may be a "selective shutdown" of the federal government ahead as the House GOP and the president fail to come to an agreement on spending, it will not be for the House rank-and-file to declare the inevitability of such a impasse.
There is an elected House GOP leadership, which includes besides Boehner and Ryan, Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Jeb Henserling, Pete Sessions, Michelle Bachmann and Tom Price. When the debate over the budget begins in earnest, the plan laid out has to be defended by these voices, and primarily by Cantor and Ryan. The new RNC chair and the would-be GOP presidential nominees have to stand back and back them up, as do the GOP senators and the rest of the House caucus. If any "free agents" show up with any excuse to divert attention from the big debate, the effort to focus and execute the agenda will be compromised.
The president can and will use surrogates to try and blow holes in the GOP's budget, and the president's numerous allies in the networks and among the newspapers will provide him every assistance even as they did in the campaign of 2008 and throughout the debate over the stimulus and Obamacare.
These are just givens, just the rules of the road inside the Manhattan-Beltway media elite.
The GOP from top to bottom has to realize that in order to win the argument they have to stay on their message and not be diverted from the key facts and the central proposals in the House GOP budget.
The debate will take many weeks, and even after the Budget Committee and then the full House passes the budget, it will then pass to the Appropriations Committee to live within the caps set, and to the Senate to respond to the House budget.
But the next few weeks will decide whether the public buys into lay the GOP's arguments over the future. To do that the public must first hear and then understand those arguments.
This requires repititon and more repitition. It especially requires clarity and discipline in the messaging. The Speaker and the senior leadership have to be available to all media and especially to those outlets which have a multiplier effect, and their surrogates have to stay on message as well.
The new GOP chair and the would-be presidential nominees will not vanish from the headlines and they should not go into hiding, but they can and should for a season take their cues from the House GOP budget and support it or remain silent. The very worst thing that could happen would be for some high-profile Republican to seek to grab some media leverage via an opportunistic attack on that budget.
Speaker Boehner has made it clear that the 112th Congress will not be a replay of the rule-of-one that defined the Pelosi years. Hopefully his colleagues will return that respect by allowing him and his lieutenants the chance to propose and pass a budget that returns America to a path of fiscal responsibility.