Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 7, 2011

BITES AT THE APPLE.... As federal policymakers debate a budget for the remainder of the fiscal year, the Republican position is crystal clear: they want $61 billion in cuts, and they're prepared to shut down the government if they don't get them. To that end, the House GOP has approved brutal cuts in areas like education, medical research, infrastructure, job training, and national security, all of which would cost the economy hundreds of thousands of jobs.

It's unlikely a Democratic Senate and Democratic White House will go along with this. But while the process unfolds, let's not forget a pesky detail: this is the first of several rounds of cuts Republicans intend to push.

Republicans expect other opportunities to force spending cuts this year -- party leaders plan to use the 2012 budget resolution and imminent debt-limit vote to do so.

"It's not like this was our only bite at the apple," [Republican Rep. Dave Schweikert of Arizona] said after voting to keep the government open last week.

Right. I hope everyone, especially congressional Democrats, haven't forgotten this. Right now, the Republican message is, "Give us all of the cuts we want, or we'll shut down the government." And next month, the Republican message will be, "Give us more cuts we want, or we'll block the debt limit and destroy the economy on purpose." And later this year, as the debate over next year's fiscal budget heats up, the Republican message will again be, "Give us all of the cuts we want, or we'll shut down the government."

This is, in other words, a multi-tiered process. Dems are already prepared to give the GOP all kinds of cuts this year -- the current White House offer is over $10 billion in cuts -- but does the party have a plan for the next round of demands? And the one after that?

If the Democratic goal is to block the $61 billion in cuts, which would likely cut 700,000 American jobs, that's obviously a worthwhile objective. But if Republicans succeed in reaching their target incrementally -- plenty of drastic cuts in March, plenty more in April, plenty more still in the fall -- the consequences for the country will be just as severe.

Steve Benen 10:55 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (17)

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I realize the Dems are fighting against a powerful head wind in this budget cuts debate, especially with the dumb ass media internalizing every republican narrative, but if they forcefully make the case that these cuts are counter-productive and will lead to more job losses, it will go a long way to changing the dynamic of the debate and give them more leverage.

The first step is the President getting in the game and stop trying to appease the crazy people on the right.

Posted by: Holmes on March 7, 2011 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

If we're not supposed to negotiate with terroris't, why should we negotiate with nihilists and anarchists?

Republicans: They'd rather rule over Hell than serve in Heaven.

Election DO have consequences. For anyone who sat out November of 2010, we who are about to die, don't solute you.

Hopefully we'll all still be around to right this situation in 2012, but if they don't raise the debt ceiling, I'm not so sure some of us will be.

It's not that I think the glass is half emtpy, it's that I think they want the water, the glass, AND the hand that's holding it.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 7, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

As I've posted before, this is death by a thousand cuts. Kicking the can down the road every two weeks (the new metric?) eventually achieves the republicans' objective if Dems choose to participate in this kabuki dance.

Dems have been trying to avoid the inevitable for almost two years. When are they going to get some balls and go for the jugular?

Posted by: bdop4 on March 7, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

bdop4, the dems will go for the jugular as soon as everyone with a d after his or her name in congress is a real democrat.

sadly, we have 3 parties these days: over there, we've got the right-wing crazy party.

and then over here, we've got democrats and we've got moderate republicans scared of the right-wing crazies and hiding out with the democrats.

and those moderates - whose number, sadly, includes obama - don't have any interest in going for the jugular.

and sadly, from obama's perspective in particular, which is first and foremost "how do i get re-elected?" that approach is working: he can see himself carrying on and getting re-elected, and so he's not going to lead forcefully - it is not and never has been in his nature.

which is a long-winded way of directly answering your question: never.

Posted by: howard on March 7, 2011 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

There is a reason why Democrats didn't force these debates before the mid-terms: The Democrats don't want to win.

If the Democratic goal is to block the $61 billion in cuts, which would likely cut 700,000 American jobs, that's obviously a worthwhile objective.

Clearly, that isn't their objective. Their objective is to be the good cop to the GOP's bad cop.

The entire system is corrupt. It will only change when one of two things occurs: If enough liberals leave the Democratic party to support a third-party movement OR if liberals purge the existing party of the Third-Way parasites that currently control the party.

In order to prevent the latter from occurring, the Third-Way leaders must bamboozle the grassroots of the party into believing that the leadership is on their side. They do this by pretending to be liberals and concocting increasingly preposterous explanations for why their only option is to give the GOP 75% of what they want.

Of course the "compromises" are regrettable, but the Democrats are really, really working hard for us. Really. And besides. Where are you going to go?

Posted by: square1 on March 7, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

What's the effect on the budget when 700,000 people stop paying taxes and start collecting unemployment? In good times they would get other jobs but I wonder if we're in a reverse Laffer situation where cutting spending doesn't help the deficit.

Posted by: Eric L on March 7, 2011 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

This is why they should call the Republicans bluff and let them force a shutdown. Then, when they try it again, the Dems and the White House can borrow Bonzo Ronnie’s line: THERE THEY GO AGAIN !

Posted by: Joe Friday on March 7, 2011 at 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

Just made my weekly call to my Republican congressman's office to complain, once again, about how his actions are hurting his constituents and I gave plenty of examples. While I'm sure it won't make a lick of difference it's somewhat cathartic. But only somewhat.


Posted by: Hannah on March 7, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

Dems need to tread carefully here. The public could just as easily blame them as they blame Republicans.

They could also fall prey to the GOP "rampant spending" line if things don't improve or don't improve enough.

Obama needs to go on the offensive and claim the high ground, and make damn sure he tells the American people exactly and clearly what his bill protects.

Posted by: JEA on March 7, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

....and when election day rolls around and the fragile economic recovery that was blooming in the spring, is lying in ashes because of all these cuts, who do you think the voters will blame? (It won't be the GOP.)

You know Democrats....you might try something really unusual...like standing up for your principles.....if you still have any.

Posted by: dweb on March 7, 2011 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

The economy is about to go into free-fall.

The GOP should ask itself, do we really need to be in the Mid-East?

Oh yeah, I forgot, the corporations want us there.

Watch the price of oil, as it goes up, any hope of economic recovery will evaporate. Poof.

The GOP will blame Obama for the collapse of our hold on the Mid-East.


Alternative fuels folks, domestic production of oil. Now.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on March 7, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Isn't it obvious by now that the Republicans don't want the economy to recover? They're depending on continued bad times to work for them in the next election.

Posted by: Slideguy on March 7, 2011 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

The problem is, the Democrats do have principles. Gouge the working man for every last cent! BTW: Thank you for letting me post my view. the majority of left slanted sights simply reject me.

Our elected officials are nothing more than prostitutes anymore. They pay us lip service while reaching behind their backs to get their palms greased. Until that changes, there is little hope.

Hell, the GAO identified how much waste (200 billion or more I think) just in redundant programs, etc. and they even refuse to address that. No cajones as theyd have to cut a non-producing worker or 2.

Obama is one of the chief apologists for a policy that is doomed to fail! Now, the the hard left morons in charge have turned loose their union attack dogs and openly question what right a person has to their hard earned income and not one word from Comrade Obama or the Durbans of the world. We are in deep doo doo kiddies!

Posted by: joetote on March 7, 2011 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Part of the Dems' plan should be their own list of draconian cuts: all agricultural subsidies, all coal, oil, nuclear and gas subsidies; all aircraft carriers, submarines and next generation aircraft that impact the Rethugs' base more than ours.

Posted by: robert on March 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Joe,

If you don't get your fact sourcing right, er correct, your privileges here will be revoked.

Tom Coburn just made up the $100 to $200 Billion dollar number. ITS NOT IN THE GAO REPORT JOE! You don't want to be relying on those right wing nut exaggerations here Joe.


Here's the description of potential $ savings the GAO actually issued:

"...the federal government could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services—but these actions will require some difficult decisions."

"billions of tax dollars" not $200 hundred billion.

Here's a brief summary of what the GAO Report you referred to DID find:


"Overlap and fragmentation among government programs or activities can be harbingers of unnecessary duplication. In this report we include 81 areas for consideration drawn from GAO's prior and ongoing work. We present 34 areas where agencies, offices, or initiatives have similar or overlapping objectives or provide similar services to the same populations; or where government missions are fragmented across multiple agencies or programs. We also present 47 additional areas—beyond those directly related to duplication, overlap, or fragmentation—describing other opportunities for agencies or Congress to consider taking action that could either reduce the cost of government operations or enhance revenue collections for the Treasury. All of these areas span a range of agencies and government missions: agriculture, defense, economic development, energy, general government, health, homeland security, international affairs, and social services. Collectively, by reducing or eliminating duplication, overlap, or fragmentation and addressing these other cost savings opportunities, the federal government could potentially save billions of tax dollars annually and help agencies provide more efficient and effective services—but these actions will require some difficult decisions.

Go to Report at a Glance here or on the left to view an interactive graphic summarizing all 81 areas we include in this report. The areas identified in this report are not intended to represent the full universe of duplication, overlap, or fragmentation within the federal government."

Posted by: robert on March 7, 2011 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

the real heartbreaker is that it would be easier to find $61 billion in defense cuts that it would be to fall off a pier and come back wet.

sadly, to our two party system loaded with backers of the military-industrial complex that's not in the discussion.

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 7, 2011 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are convinced the fascist regieme as presented by the KOCH BROS is the way out of US Democracy. Per Fascist definition Corporations and the military-industrial complex should replace our US CONSTITUTION . Since all politicians have promised to uphold the US CONSTITUTION when they are sworn in. Any Congreesperson or Senator who subverts the American Tax payer by only supporting the whims of Corporations and military complex and not the taxpayer should be charged with TREASON! KeeP America as a DERMOCRACY not as a fascist government as supported by the KOCH BROS.

Posted by: MLJohnston on March 7, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK



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