We're simply haggling over the price
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.
| February 25, 2011; 9:43 AM ET
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