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Most of us remember Nancy Reagan. She was half of an epic love story that took its place in romantic annals somewhere between Romeo and Juliet and Jack and Rose. Neither of those two immortal pairings fared too well, but Nancy and Ron … they endured in Technicolor.

Many biographers have chronicled this Hollywoodesque romance, but it would probably take a Coleen Hoover to really do it justice.

Mr. Reagan has assumed a place in wistful conservative memories that would merit a place on Mount Rushmore if the chiseling didn’t cost so much.

Mrs. Reagan popularized the phrase, “Just Say No,” to dissuade kids from experimenting with drugs. It has since taken a prominent place in the operator’s manual of the Republican Party. The slogan might appear with an asterisk directing the reader to small print at the bottom of the page: “This will come in especially useful when we have absolutely nothing to counter any proposal that we disagree with.”

Take, for instance, President Biden’s recent budget proposal. The Titanic had a better chance of docking in New York than Biden’s $6.8 trillion proposal does of passing the House, and he knows it. The Republicans — I think I have noted this before — suddenly become very distressed about rampant federal spending when there is a Democrat in the Oval Office.

You would have thought you were in a kindergarten at naptime when our former president offered his budget proposals. An article in Propublica helped to put it in perspective: “The national debt has risen by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. That’s nearly twice as much as what Americans owe on student loans, car loans, credit cards, and every other type of debt other than mortgages, combined, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It amounts to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country.”

Now, $23,500 might be a night on the town for some of the people that the Republican Party works so tirelessly for, but it is a lot of money for most Americans. Not that we ever expected that the self-styled “King of Debt” would actually reduce the national debt like he promised. Despite the playacting on television, we had become accustomed to his tentative grasp on financial wheeling and dealing with the demise of an airline, the steaks, the mortgages, a magazine, a university, and a slew of belly-up hotels and casinos that were emblazoned with that name.

Not to forget his impressive propensity for outright lying.

There is a lot of talk about Mr. Biden being just too darn old to serve another term as president. Better to get a youngster in his seventies into the White House. If, by extension, that precludes another run for the ex-president, well, the sun eventually has to set for us all. Mr. Trump can watch it dip below the Atlantic from a balcony at Mar-a-Lago, content in the knowledge that a couple of the kids are still out there rooting for him and that Melania might be around, too. Somewhere.

The White House unveiled a budget proposal on March 2, claiming that it would cut the national debt by $3 trillion in a decade and shore up Medicare. It proves, among other things, that he isn’t too old to put his political opponents’ butts on a very hot griddle.

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Among the document’s stipulations is an increase in military spending, which always promises smooth sailing from the GOP and raising taxes on corporations and the rich, which has all the resonance of the iceberg scraping along the side of the aforementioned Titanic.

So what are the Republicans supposed to do? Talk about a rock and a hard place! Their pose as a friend to the working class is shrinking faster than the nation’s shorelines. I guess you could always claim that any attempt to bridge the massive income gap that exists in America is an example of “polarization,” but this kind of reasoning usually comes from entitled people whose idea of tough times is a late dividend check. (You go, Bernie!)

As we all disgracefully witnessed during the president’s State of the Union address, the idea that the Grand Old Party would even consider cutting what they refer to as entitlements elicits a reaction that the Royal Shakespeare Company would be hard pressed to better.

Utah Senator Mike Lee looked as if the guy next to him had just expelled the results of a baked bean dinner when the president suggested that his party wanted to cut federal benefit programs. But during an earlier campaign speech, Mr. Lee told supporters, “It will be my objective to phase out Social Security, to pull it up by the roots and get rid of it. Medicaid and Medicare are of the same sort. They need to be pulled up.”

A prominent member of the party’s clown contingent even shouted “liar” at the president.

The GOP’s stated objective is to reduce the national debt. It is a worthy goal to be sure, but it would be helpful if Speaker McCarthy and his devoted gang of nay-sayers would offer the American people some kind of idea as to just how they intend to do it without rolling up some of the plush red carpeting that the rich have trod upon since the catastrophic Trump tax cut in 2017.

That corporate windfall, not incidentally, was an enormous benefit to him personally, but I didn’t really need to say that, did I.

Mr. McCarthy’s ascension to the Speaker’s position was more illustrative of temerity than expediency, so the modus operandi right now will be to spin their wheels and hope it doesn’t occur to anyone that they can’t logically attain their draconian cuts in spending without reducing benefits to social programs. But that would be like standing outside a polling station wearing a hockey mask and carrying a bloody knife.

So, in the meantime, just say no.

Alden Graves writes a regular column for Vermont News & Media. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of Vermont News & Media.


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