Opinion Brief

Are Republicans too 'obsessed' with the deficit?

The GOP is cutting spending with the zeal of a party that won a mandate for change. Did the party take the wrong message from its big win last November?

In their latest effort to slash federal spending, House Republicans passed more than $60 billion in broad cuts to government programs Saturday morning. While Senate Democrats and President Obama are unlikely to sign off on that budget package without major concessions, Republicans say aggressive cutting, at both the state and federal level, is what voters demanded last November. Many polls tell a different story, showing voters much more concerned about jobs. Is the GOP overestimating its mandate? (Watch Rep. Paul Ryan make his case)

Yes, this will come back to bite the GOP: Voters may want fiscal sanity, but they don't want their government literally "taking food from the mouths of babes," says Steve Denning in Forbes. Or slashing entitlements for the poor while leaving the wealthy alone. "Fighting a war on the poor or the unions" may cut a sliver of spending, and please the GOP base, but it is an overreach that will fire up Democrats and send independents back to Obama in 2012."Fighting the right war"

No, voters will reward the GOP's hard choices: "Republicans will not regret their judgment that the time has come to get serious" about the budget deficit, says Yuval Levin in National Review. Obama's spending proposals are the "epitome of cynical denial" about our fiscal mess, while national and state Republicans are finally treating voters like "responsible adults" instead of "selfish children." Come 2012, voters will remember the difference."A clarifying week"

Beware "deficit-obsessed" lawmakers in both parties: Given the continuing weakness of our economy's recovery, neither party should be focusing on cutting spending, says Keith Girard in AllBusiness. We need jobs, which means more federal spending. And yet, the "deficit obsession" can be found in both parties: Obama's budget, with $33 billion in cuts, "clearly misses the mark" on job creation, and the GOP cuts would cost up to 1 million jobs. We need leadership now, not politics."Deficit-obsessed lawmakers are bad news for small businesses"

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