GOP could self-destruct with hard line on budget; just ask Newt

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It's a little too early for this sort of bluster, but Speaker Mike Huebsch says Assembly Republicans may refuse to pass a state budget.

Before he leads his party too far down that path, Huebsch might want to touch bases with Newt Gingrich when he's in Wisconsin tomorrow.

Gingrich, you may recall, was the architect of the 1995 shutdown of the federal government, in a showdown with President Bill Clinton.

Gingrich and the GOP were emboldened by a sweep in the 1994 Congressional midterm elections which gave Republicans control.

But Gingrich and Co. overplayed their hand, and, while achieving some of their budget objectives, paid a huge political price for losing the public relations war. Gingrich left government not too long after that disaster.

And Gingrich arguably had a mandate at the time. Huebsch and Wisconsin Republicans, on the other hand, had their heads handed to them in November, losing control of the State Senate and suffering big losses in the Assembly, while Gov. Jim Doyle was re-elected handily.

This does not seem like the time to be making threats and forcing an impasse.

The GOP's gubernatorial candidate, Mark Green, in his disastrous campaign, offered a pie-in-the-sky budget, promising to freeze spending while proposing new programs and tax cuts at the same time. The news media gave him a free ride, but the voters didn't. They chose Doyle, who had proven in his first term that he was serious about digging the state out of its budget deficit while protecting vital programs.

Now, with Green on his way to Africa to become an ambassador, Huebsch -- as Seth Zlotocha puts it -- is promising the state a Mark Green budget.

That's an interesting tactic -- and one that could insure that Doyle will have two Democratic-controlled houses of the legislature to work with after the 2008 election.

So, maybe that's not such a bad idea after all.

UPDATE: Paul Soglin: Let GOP block the budget.