This Thursday, House Republicans will have an opportunity to show their supporters just how far they are willing to go to cut federal spending and balance the budget, even though they know the bill they will vote for has no chance of passing.
In other words, it's all for show.
The alternative budget blueprint devised by the conservative Republican Study Group (RSC), which would target Medicare and Medicaid for deep cuts as well as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, is being offered simply to give right wing lawmakers a chance to demonstrate just how austere they are willing to be.
Fortunately, the bill has virtually no chance of winning enough support for passage in the House, which is why it will be supported by those RSC members who want political cover when they vote for the House Budget Committee's bill, which "only" reduces spending in mandatory programs by $5.4 trillion compared to the $10 trillion over 10 years that they support.
The RSC bill is estimated to balance the federal budget by 2023, compared to 2027 in the Budget Committee proposal.
Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing an alternative budget that would increase spending by $2.7 trillion, protect Medicare and Medicaid, close tax loopholes and provide for immigration reform. Their bill, which makes no attempt to balance the federal budget, doesn't have a prayer for passage, either.
So the bottom line is this. Republicans in the House are planning to slash as much as possible from programs for the poor and the elderly to help overcome the expected deficits that would result from their tax reform plan that will provide huge reductions for corporations and the wealthy and only modest reductions, if any, for the middle class.
Sound fair to you?