Ford O’Connell’s response to “Boehner’s House: Reform or business as usual?” in the Politico Arena:
Campaigning (setting lofty goals) and legislating (achieving manageable objectives) are always two distinctly different activities. Now that they are in power, the House GOP is wisely sharpening its pencils and ratcheting back what budget cuts are achievable this year.
If the House GOP had stuck to its initial campaign promise to cut spending by $100 billion and managed to curb spending by only $80 billion (a feat worthy of recognition even by Keith Olbermann), the mainstream media (who is clearly rooting for the Democrats) would declare the GOP’s efforts to be a failure. It wouldn’t matter how close the House GOP came to achieving this goal, or that the left has no real intention of cutting spending whatsoever – the perception of underachieving would be turned against the GOP in the next election cycle.
Let’s not forget that, after the spending excess of the past two years, any dial back at all would be a huge change of direction. If the GOP sets a reasonable goal for its first step and actually meets (or even exceeds) the budget cutting number, the mainstream media will be forced to give the GOP a public, but quiet hat tip – a setup for raising the bar during the next budget cycle. This is how the political game is played. Perception of victory begets a chance to carry the ball farther; early stumbles will reduce the options for real change.