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Posted at 9:43 AM ET, 02/25/2011

We're simply haggling over the price

By Jennifer Rubin

The Post reports:

With a political standoff over spending threatening to trigger a federal shutdown next week, Senate Democrats began drafting a plan Thursday to slice billions of dollars from domestic agency budgets over the next seven months, yielding to Republican demands to reduce the size of government this year.

The dynamic, you see, is shifting. A senior Senate adviser told me last night, "Last week, Dems said they would only freeze spending. [Wednesday], [Sen. Chuck] Schumer said cuts were a 'recipe for a double-dip recession.' Now, they're looking for about $30 billion in cuts."

That still would leave a big gap between the House Republicans (who found $61 billion in cuts for the remainder of this fiscal year). Still, the entire conversation has now changed. The adviser referenced the Winston Churchill joke:

At a dinner party Churchill says to his dinner companion, "Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?"

The woman responds, "My goodness, Mr. Churchill. I suppose I would."

Churchill replies, "Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"

She answers, "Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?"

Churchill answers, "Madam, we've already established that. Now we are haggling about the price."

The Senate adviser summed up, "The Dems now acknowledge there have to be cuts. We're simply haggling over how much."

Still, there is likely to be an even shorter-term extension to get past the March 4 deadline when the Continuing Resolution expires. (The Congress, with the budget still up in the air, is on break this week. Naturally.) A House proposal for a brief extension to take the CR to March 18 is due out today, but as Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised, that will include $4 billion in cuts.

The Democrats' status quo stance is already giving way to political realities. House Republicans (especially the freshmen), by standing tough, are driving the agenda. For now, Senate Democrats are racing to catch up.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 25, 2011; 9:43 AM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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The comment was made by George Bernard Shaw, not Winston Churchill.

Any polemicist should know that.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | February 25, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Go easy on her, non-cons are pretty enamored by Churchill. It's an honest mistake.

Posted by: mfray | February 25, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

Actually, a quick Google search shows the quote being attributed to Churchill more often than Shaw. Clearly, there is a real debate over the source. Any critic of a polemicist should know that.

Posted by: paco33 | February 25, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Yep, Democrats made a stupid mistake. They have acknowledged the entire Republican framing of budget and spending issues, but say 'your cuts go too far.' Once they threw in the towel and validated Republicans worldview, they lost the debate.

They should have said that in these depressed times, we're suffering from inadequate aggregate demand and the only way to increase it is public spending on public works projects. Cuts? No, no, no.

This is why Democratic politicians are useless defeatists, and all need to be replaced with people willing to fight. Eager to fight.

Posted by: member8 | February 25, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Winnie the Pig loved to relate that anecdote but always neglected to mention that it ended by his getting smartly slapped in the cheek after his cheeky remark. Served him right, the sexist pig.

Posted by: aardunza | February 25, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the indignation! Philip Roth should take the subject up after his slacks.

Posted by: aardunza | February 25, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

They should have said that in these depressed times, we're suffering from inadequate aggregate demand and the only way to increase it is public spending on public works projects. Cuts? No, no, no.

They already did. It worked really well. Great budget, too.

Posted by: gopthestupidparty | February 25, 2011 12:16 PM | Report abuse

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