Opinion: It’s one thing to talk, it’s another to govern

U.S. House Republicans in Congress have talked a very big game about changing the budget ways of Washington since taking charge in January. But so far, we’ve seen very little from the GOP in terms of concrete proposals to cut federal spending — just a lot of vague calls for action.

“It’s time to shrink Washington and grow America,” said U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens.

While those quotes are easy to find from Georgia Republicans, GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill aren’t exactly rushing to fill in the blanks on how they would do it.

By this time in April, Congress is supposed to approve a budget outline for the next year — what’s known as a budget resolution — setting overall spending and revenue targets without filling in all of the messy spending details.

But House Republicans seem in no hurry to lay out a budget blueprint, let alone the fine print.

The White House has repeatedly noted the lack of GOP spending specifics, and President Biden has refused to hold more talks on the debt limit until House Speaker Kevin McCarthy releases his own budget.

“We should both tell the American people what we are for,” Mr. Biden told McCarthy in a recent letter.

While they have been silent about their own budget choices, Republicans have roundly attacked Biden’s 2024 budget, which never gets the yearly deficit under $1 trillion over the next ten years, generating an unprecedented amount of red ink for Uncle Sam.

“I don’t see a concrete plan there,” U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, said in a recent hearing of the House Budget Committee. “Really, it continues to be an addiction to spending.”

Republicans have talked about rolling federal spending levels back to where they were in 2022, a cut of about $150 billion.

With no GOP details being offered, the White House has been filling in the blanks by claiming that Republican budget cuts would close air traffic control towers at smaller airports, limit federal food aid, cut rail safety inspections, and more — labeling the potential cuts the plans of ‘extreme MAGA House Republicans.’

GOP lawmakers are right to point out that it’s unacceptable to run deficits of $1.5 trillion per year and more — as Biden’s budget would do.

“I came here to stop out-of-control spending,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Collins, R-Jackson.

That sounds great to many voters back home. But sooner or later, Republicans have to put their budget cards on the table and make specific choices on the federal budget.

What gets funded? What gets cut?

It’s easy to talk. It’s not so easy to govern.

Jamie Dupree has covered national politics and Congress from Washington, D.C. since the Reagan administration. His column appears weekly in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more, check out his Capitol Hill newsletter at http://jamiedupree.substack.com