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Posted at 9:59 AM ET, 03/10/2011

Democrats bewitched, bothered and bewildered

By Jennifer Rubin

Wednesday was not a banner day for Democrats. They were dismissed by the White House and then defeated in the Senate.

At Jay Carney's press briefing, there was this exchange:

Q: But yesterday several leading Senate Democrats said that these negotiations that we're talking about now for the CR [continuing resolution] need to be broadened to talk about things that are mandatory and not just domestic non-discretionary. So does he think that is premature?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would just say that we welcome the input from members and look forward to getting to the point where we are talking about reaching a deal on a continuing resolution that funds the government through the fiscal year, so that we can move on to --

Q: So that has to come first?

MR. CARNEY: I'm not making a dividing line. But I don't think that anyone thinks between now and March 18th we will resolve entitlement reform, tax expenditures and all the other issues that go into a much bigger deal. But the elements that would go into a fiscal year 2011 agreement I don't want to negotiate from here.

Q: Jay, is the President then ... is it waiting for the House Republicans to put forward their broad budget before it would be prepared to enter into broader negotiations?

MR. CARNEY: Jackie, we are in a situation, as we were last week, where the government shuts down on March 18th -- I mean, we're not -- we need to resolve the issue on the table, which is funding for fiscal year 2011. So we're not waiting for anything to get to those talks. So we're eager to --

Q: But the broader negotiations -- he's put out his budget, so now --

MR. CARNEY: ... I'm not, from here, separating the near term from the short term, except that we don't have a choice but to deal with the near-term funding posed by the short-term extension.

Translation: We're not going to condone this wild-goose chase. (Note to liberal pundits: Forgo running defense for every dopey gambit to come out of the Senate. Many if not most of them will be defeated or abandoned, leaving the spinners with egg on their faces. Yeah, what ever happened to filibuster reform)?

Then came the Senate votes. A senior Republican adviser observed that Democrats were blindsided when the Republican spending cut package got more votes (44) than the Democrats' plan (42): "I don't think they were expecting to do worse than us. It really screws up their messaging." Not to mention the election prospects of red-state Democrats.

Now what do Democrats say? The White House wants the CR done and isn't going to get into a tax and entitlement discussion with the March 18 deadline looming. So now the question is how close to $61 billion will they be forced to accept?

Say what you will, but understand that in December we were talking about a monstrous omnibus spending bill with thousands of earmarks; in March we are talking about how much the Democrats will be forced to cut. That's a change I can believe in.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 10, 2011; 9:59 AM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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This is a crisis. A large crisis. In fact, if you got a moment, it's a twelve-story crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying 'This Is a Large Crisis'. A large crisis requires a large plan. Get me two pencils and a pair of underpants.”

--Black Adder

Posted by: gopthestupidparty | March 10, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

That's a change I can believe in

61 Billion Dollars is about 4% of our deficit for this year alone. Senator Paul from Kenntucky has proposed a $500 Billion reduction this year which is a 33% reduction of this year's deficit.
Two Questions:Why no support for Paul's measure?
How many will ever vote against raising the Debt ceiling or even(God Forbid)lowering the Debt Ceiling?

Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

yes, let's support Paul's measure. Let's get serious about spending cuts.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | March 10, 2011 11:02 AM | Report abuse

$500 billion is fine, but for God's sake don't harm the cowboy-poets! Oh, the humanity!

Posted by: Larry3435 | March 10, 2011 11:26 AM | Report abuse

yes, let's support Paul's measure. Let's get serious about spending cuts.
Posted by: skipsailing28

Here's my question to you skip,if There is no"real" difference* on deficits between Conservatives and Liberals,why do you disdain one group over the others,why not join me in despising all of them.
*In the context of our budget the difference between 61Billion and 0Dollars is insignificant.
I've been following the growth of deficits since we went off Gold in August 1971,nobody's a hero in this context,(check the growth of deficits under LBJ and Carter,and compare to Nixon/Reagan ,there are no heros in the bankrupting of our nation.)
So is our little Jennifer hoplessly deluded in seeing deficit daylight in the GOP Budget,or is she pretending? Obviously,she is not interested in the 500Billion dollar facelift proposed by a perceived anti-semite like Paul, politics,you have to deal with those you despise to get anything done. Does Jennifer really want to eliminate the deficit? I don't think so,not if it effects her agenda,anyway.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Fact: Public employees are paid far more and receive far better benefits than private sector employees.
Fact: The higher salaries and benefits enjoyed by public sector employees is a result of government not having the incentives to negociate like the private sector does. Public unions are negotiating with the very people they helped elect
Fact: Public sector and especially teachers have held the American people (especially children) hostage too many times
Fact: It is the American people working in the private sector who pay for the higher salaries and benefits enjoyed by public sector employees.

It is time to for the American people to take control of this situation. The situation in Wisconsin should serve as a model for the rest of the state, local, and federal government. It is time for the American people to put an end to the higher salaries and benefits paid to public employees.

We must continue to VOTE THEM OUT!!!

Posted by: AngryMobVoter | March 10, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

A picture says a thousand words. Ditto for charts and graphs. I wish that the Republican leadership would study how Apple's Steve Jobs rolls out a new product with a presentation that incorporates Keynote (Apple's answer to Powerpoint), video clips and live demonstrations.

How about a chart just showing the last six years of the federal budget (including the 2011 one submitted by President Obama but not yet passed). Going from present to past, we have total outlays of $3.8, $3.55, $3.1, $2.9, $2.6 and $2.7 trillion, and those budgets run deficits of $1.65T, $1.2T, $407B, $239B, $161B and $248B.

Let's face it. When 72% of our citizens think that cutting back on foreign aid would result in "large" savings and 51% think that cutting back on Medicare benefits would result in "smallish" savings, then we're talking about a lot of ignorant - not dumb or stupid, but ignorant - citizens that need to see pertinent data presented in a format other than a big rambling speech from a podium with lots of incomprehensible numbers.

Posted by: coffeetime | March 10, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

We must continue to VOTE THEM OUT!!!
Posted by: AngryMobVoter

I'm going to do you a favor and educate you on the logic of the situation.
The "Ball" is now in the court of the teacher's union,thanks to Walker. If the union blows this,they lose,and no one cares,if they respond correctly,the ball is back in Walker's Court. The Union response is to call a general strike. If they don't,they lose.if they do,they may lose anyway like the air controllers did under Reagan.
However,it is the role of Government to provide teachers(60000),(maybe they can privitize them?),and how they do that in the face of a statewide strike,is the state's decision.
In Conclusion,if the teachers don't strike,after losing their collective bargaining by fiat,then no one cares about them,and rightly so,and they go the way of the air controllers,to old age and bitterness,having been defeated by Reagan/Walker.
Last item,it is a natural right in America to quit a job,and this natural right is the only true power a union has. It will be interesting to see if Walker pushed the teachers too far this time.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to do you a favor and educate you on the logic of the situation.
Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 12:20 PM
I will return the favor. There is no chance that the teachers and other public employees in Wisconsin are going to quit jobs that pay as well and look for new work -- particularly in this economy. And once they see that the money they save by not being forced to pay union dues more than makes up for the moderate increase in their health and pension contributions, they will have even less incentive to quit such good paying jobs.

Posted by: paco33 | March 10, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse


If you're right,and you probably are,there is no point to the union,and the whole soundbite/news cycle thingy was irrelevant.
It's now a matter of the teacher's integrity and courage,if they have neither,"Tempest in a Teapot"

Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree. As I believe would FDR and George Meany - which is why both legendary pro-union titans opposed public sector unions. They understood that public employees negotiating contracts with the government was an inherent conflict of interest and was, thus, not "collective bargaining". And they recognized that since public employees are prohibited from striking (as this punishes the taxpayers), they have little in common with private sector unions.

Posted by: paco33 | March 10, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

public employees are prohibited from striking

Paco.let's raise the bar a bit,this has no teeth because there's no prohibition against quitting,and there's no prohibition about rehiring a public emoloyee that "Quit".
However,The onus is on the Union,they either roll over and lose,or they Strike/Quit and see what happens. America hates losers,but it's the teacher's call.
BTW,Reagan won his battle against the aircontrollers because there wasn't an air disaster during the first two years of training for the new crew. There were many close calls,however only a fool would argue that RR didn't lead a charmed life.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

You're right on both counts. There is nothing stopping the teachers and public employees from quitting - except mortgage and car payments, etc. And RR dodged a huge bullet when there were no plane crashes. Just one and he was toast.

Posted by: paco33 | March 10, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

except mortgage and car payments,

If that is what stops them from a confrontation with Walker,then the best man won. Then Walker can effortlessly privatize teacher services and have the state contract those services to the lowest bidder. I won't care,because the teachers and their union leaders have the opportunity,today, to stand up or bow down,which is once in a lifetime.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 10, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Is John Bolton a cowboy-poet on weekends? He looks sorta like that one on PBS a few years ago. But isn't the question not only how much the Democrats will be forced to cut, but also how small of cuts the Republicans are willing to accept for the CR? I'll go with $32B, a bit less than half-way between 4.6 and 61.

Posted by: aardunza | March 10, 2011 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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