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One laughable measure of Republican desperation to find a way to balance the budget and still finance a huge tax cut skewed to the wealthy was the party's effort to create a "13th month" in which to roll over some spending. As one critic noted, it could be inserted into the calender after June and called "You-lie."

But there is nothing funny about another idea kicked around in the GOP caucus: holding back part of the earned income tax credit that helps the working poor make ends meet.

Balancing the budget and financing a tax cut on the backs of poor people trying to hold down a job and pay bills is such an outrageous idea that it's inconceivable it would be floated even as a trial balloon. Yet it's getting serious consideration from some of the party's more conservative members.

Forget about what a public relations disaster such a scheme would be. Ignore the fact that it would hand Democrats a ready-made campaign commercial contrasting fat cats benefiting from the tax cut to the poor seeing their tax credits delayed.

More important is the fact that the idea is abhorrent in human terms, making it tougher for poor working people to pay their bills. And philosophically, it's at odds with everything Republicans claim to stand for, namely encouraging work and the effort to achieve self-sufficiency.

That is what the EITC -- a tax credit scaled to income and available only to those who earn paychecks -- is all about. It's the ultimate anti-welfare initiative, encouraging initiative by helping low-paid workers climb out of poverty.

The GOP contention that delaying such payments "doesn't hurt anybody" recalls the "let them eat cake" philosophy of an earlier elitist. That's hardly an appropriate platform for a party that claims to be in touch with the real America.

But it was just one of the gimmicks pondered by Republican leaders frantic to stick to unattainable spending caps while still putting Social Security money off limits and pursuing their unaffordable $792 billion tax cut.

The mere fact that they would have to consider delaying some spending by stretching the fiscal year into a 13th month is an indication of just how unrealistic the GOP budgetary blueprint is.

Wise politicians would change that blueprint. Instead, the GOP thinks about changing the Gregorian calendar and making the working poor pay for the party's mistakes.

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