Suckers: Republicans Take Obama's Budget Bait

"To a bunch of the critics out there, I've already said, 'Show me your budget!' I'm happy to have that debate."

The Obama White House and congressional Democrats have hardly been subtle about what they want from Republicans. As the president told donors at a party fundraiser last night, "To a bunch of the critics out there, I've already said, 'Show me your budget!' I'm happy to have that debate."

Dems have been asking, practically begging, Republicans to put up or shut up. Every single time the minority party attacks the administration's budget, Democrats respond, "At least we're governing. Republicans have no ideas of their own." The charge has started to stick, and GOP leaders haven't come up with a compelling retort.

This week, it seems the Republican Party is taking the bait.

House Republicans have begun unveiling detailed alternatives to President Barack Obama's policies -- a concerted effort to push back against Democratic efforts to label them "the Party of No."

On Wednesday, it was a housing plan. Thursday, it will be a big, TV-friendly stack of budget blueprints, "The Republican Road to Recovery." That's to match the president's own platitudinous budget title, "A New Era of Responsibility."

The House Republicans' budget document, provided to POLITICO ahead of its release, makes sure no one can miss the point: Each chapter begins "The Republican Plan," and each section is divided into "The President's Budget" and "Republicans' Solution."

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the housing proposal that he rolled out with eight other House Republicans on Tuesday was "in response to the administration -- and the president himself, who continues to say that Republicans don't have any ideas." ... The documents -- and the showmanship in releasing them -- are the result of frustration by GOP leaders who repeatedly hear on TV that they have no alternatives.

In other words, Republicans are letting the White House set the terms of the debate, and they're struggling to keep up.

Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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