Friday, April 8, 2011

Shutdown Countdown, Part 16

As the specter of a government shutdown looms, let's keep in perspective what the Democrats have done:  given up some $33 billion in spending, matching the GOP House Appropriations Committee and their original proposal some 2 months ago.  The problem is not the money.  It never was.  The problem is the Tea Party wants to punish everyone who does not believe as they do, and they are now willing to close the government indefinitely to do it.

Ezra Klein argues that we even know pretty much what the final 2010 funding deal will look like.

Eventually, a deal will be struck. It will either come in the next few hours, or after the federal government shuts down for some period of time. What makes the possibility of a shutdown so baffling is that we not only know what’s going to be in this deal, but approximately what it will look like. Here are the three elements:

1) the quantity of cuts, which most observers expect to fall between $33 billion and $40 billion when added to the $10 billion in cuts that have already passed;

2) the location of the cuts, which Republicans hope to concentrate in the 12 percent of the budget known as non-defense discretionary spending (here’s a useful guide to that category of spending), and which Democrats want to spread more widely across the federal budget;

3) the policy riders House Republicans attached to H.R.1, and in particular, the riders relating to abortion and the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to regulate carbon.

From talking to people involved in the negotiations, I’d say it’s a safe bet that the final deal will include about $35 billion in total cuts, a lot of which will come from non-defense discretionary spending but a fair amount of which won’t, and some sort of policy rider wherein Planned Parenthood can’t use the federal money it gets for abortions, but it can still receive federal money. This would be similar to the deal we saw on abortion funding in the health-care law.

To put that prospective package in context, the Republican leadership originally asked for $32 billion in cuts with no policy riders — they only upped their bid after conservatives in the House threatened to revolt. The deal they’re rejecting now far exceeds their opening bid — a very rare outcome in Washington

Ezra's nice about it.  I'm not.  The Dems have caved far enough that they have given the Republicans more than their original demands.  And considering the Republicans have already made their opening bid on 2012 that includes ending Medicare and destroying the social safety net in order to give a massive, multi-trillion dollar tax cut to the wealthiest Americans over the next decade, one has to wonder just how good of a deal the Republicans are going to get on next year's budget.

Yeah I know, it's getting close to firebagging territory here, but it's a legitimate question.  On the other hand, if the Democrats wanted to prove that the Republicans have no intent of negotiating in good faith, they've done a spectacular job in proving that as an absolute truth.  The Republicans are getting more than their original demands and saying no to the deal.  They cannot be considered rational at this point.

Keep that in mind today as they crawl towards putting hundreds of thousands of Americans out of work in this economy.

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