The instinctive Republican response (see, e.g., this RNC release) to President Obama’s call for a domestic discretionary spending freeze is to dismiss it as not serious—saying, oh, no, it’s not a real freeze because the baseline is high, and anyway he doesn’t mean it, and here’s what he said in the campaign, etc., etc.
However true this indictment in its substantive particulars, it strikes me as politically misguided. Republicans, in a spirit of bipartisanship, should praise the president for beginning to come to his senses about too much government spending (and for acknowledging at the same time that national security spending can’t be frozen). They can point out that of course in the spirit of the spending freeze we can’t be creating new and expensive entitlements (health care). And then they can work to expand the discussion of how we’re going to deal with the deficit and the debt by re-limiting the size and scope of the federal government. Obama’s pseudo-spending freeze is a chance for Republicans to be (refreshingly!) bipartisan, and to take advantage of Obama’s willingness to move the debate over the rest of this year to a terrain—who will constrain big government?--that is good for them, and the country.