Republicans swept into Washington in 2010 vowing to reduce the debt, and yesterday eight of them unveiled their plan to do so... by returning the unused portion of their office budgets, reducing the debt by all of $1.5 million ... "a whopping .00001% of what the nation owes. The technical phrase for this is 'chump change,'" writes Dana Milbank in the Washington Post. As they revealed this grand plan, Rep. Jeff Duncan said, "I can hear the pundits saying, 'Oh, these freshmen—they're just grandstanding." He said this while holding a gigantic fake check.
There's one problem with this grand gesture: Most lawmakers routinely return unused office cash without holding a press conference. But not the class of 2010! "Instead of just returning this money, we’re asking, and then issuing a press release, and then patting ourselves on the back," Rep. Jeff Landry explained. John Boehner hasn't even promised to use the funds to pay down the debt—the freshmen intend to ask him to, eventually. Oh, and another fun fact: Though all the freshmen were invited to join the effort, less than 10% of them showed up yesterday. Milbank sees the whole sad debacle as a "tacit admission of lowered expectations" from the revolutionaries of 2010. Click for the entire column—it's an amusing read. (Read more Dana Milbank stories.)