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Saturday, November 22, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 43.0° F  Fog/Mist
The Daily
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The tough decisions Wisconsin Republicans have to make

There are probably more than a few Republicans in the legislature who read this paragraph longingly:

The budget dilemma [Congressional] Republicans face is where to achieve the big cuts their supporters expect. GOP leaders have ruled out tax increases and defense cuts. Cutting Medicare - a huge long-term driver of federal spending - comes with massive political risks. That leaves domestic "discretionary spending" as the first target. But that area accounts for only about one-sixth of the budget.

Imagine. Being able to call for fiscal conservatism but not suffer the political consequences that come with the tough decisions the philosophy demands? That's the situation many D.C. Republicans, including Rep. Paul Ryan, find themselves in. While the budget deficit balloons, they continue to complain about it without ever proposing the type of cuts necessary to get us anywhere near a balanced budget. In fact, as the Times noted, Ryan, when delivering the GOP response to the State of the Union, did not mention Social Security or Medicare once.

In contrast, Wisconsin Republicans either have to make deep cuts to programs such as shared revenue, medical assistance and education, or raise taxes. The budget has to be balanced. And there is no Democrat they can blame it on.

Although the number of Republicans who will cut whatever necessary to balance the budget is likely far greater now than ever before, there are still quite a few political pragmatists who know that the cuts in services could threaten their majority.

Ironically, some of the most conservative members of the new GOP caucus come from moderate or traditionally Democratic districts. In races that begun as easy re-election campaigns for incumbent Dems, the GOP often allowed little-known Tea Party activists to run. So far, so good, however. There is little evidence of dissent in the ranks of the GOP, even as it pursues extremely modest tax policies that are clearly prevent as little cutting as possible to social services in the next few months.

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