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Claire McCaskill recently wrote a letter to state legislators who have been carping about the stimulus spending that has sustained our state budget. Taking them at their word, she asked them just what the impact would be if unspent portions of the funds were returned to the government, and whether or not these brave souls wish to forgo further stimulus funds, given their strong convictions.

With much spluttering and bombast, State Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), Chairman of the House Budget Committee, responded today, managing in the process to avoid answering any of the quite legitimate issues that McCaskill posed.  Instead, shaking a metaphorical finger at the errant Democrat, he claimed that he and his fellow anti-stimulus stalwarts could not possibly answer McCaskill’s questions until she and her Democratic cohorts in Washington had performed four magical tasks:

(1) balance the federal budget just as we do every single year in Missouri

Bear in mind that this demand comes from a member of the political party that voted against PAYGO in the U.S. Senate. Does Icet really not understand that if the federal budget were to be balanced right away, somebody would have to answer much harder questions than those that McCaskill put to the state’s budget vultures? Could it be that his brave demand is nothing more than bluster by which he hopes to divert attention from his inability to answer the hard questions without exposing the intellectual dishonesty at the heart of Republican rhetoric?  

(2) take cap-and-trade off the table

First, just what does abandoning cap-and-trade have to do with stimulus spending? Isn’t such a stipulation akin to a banker demanding that you stop watching police procedurals on TV before he will give you a loan?

Second, just who is this supposed to benefit – coal and energy industry campaign contributors perhaps? In a just world, before Icet could make such demands, he would have to be willing to honestly discuss the real issues involved in cap-and-trade in relation to Missouri’s future prosperity – and by discuss, I don’t mean regurgitate spurious claims and stale talking points.

(3) kill the current iteration of “reform” and instead allow the states wide room to experiment with free market approaches to health care

Like free market approaches aren’t what got us into the fix we’re in. Just think about that 30% Anthem Blue Cross premium increase in California – if Icet gets his way, we’ll be facing similar increases in Missouri soon enough. Then there’s the inconvenient fact that the health care reform bill under consideration in congress right now actually cuts the deficit over the next ten years. I guess reality doesn’t play well at Tea Parties.

(4) take a stand next time President Obama insists on raising the federal debt limit.

Shouldn’t Icet and his Republican buddies take the first step and help out by letting McCaskill know that they are willing to live without the funds that won’t be forthcoming if this should come to pass? And shouldn’t they have to insure that they and their high principles take full responsibility for the debacle that will result if federal funds aren’t forthcoming to bail out the state?

Does it strike you that these unrealistic demands are designed for one purpose only – to let state Republicans off the hook now that their bluff has been called? For once, McCaskill is on the side of the angels, and these clowns need to give her some real answers or shut up and stop acting like spoiled bullies. As she tweeted earlier today:

Going forward,if we pull back unspent stimulus $, how will the budget in #MO be balanced? Who will take the billion $ cut?Impt to be honest

Ah yes, honest … how novel.