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Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 03/ 2/2011

It's a landslide: Senate passes $4B in cuts

By Jennifer Rubin

As The Post reported, the Senate today overwhelmingly approved by a 91-9 vote the two-week extension of the continuing resolution, thereby preventing a government shutdown. The no's were cast by a mix of far-right and far-left senators, in other words, those for whom ideology trumps governance:

Among the nine "no" votes on the two-week plan Wednesday were five Republicans -- Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), Jim Risch (Idaho) and Mike Crapo (Idaho) -- three Democrats -- Sens. Tom Harkin (Iowa), Carl Levin (Mich.) and Patty Murray (Wash.) -- and one independent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).

Some voting against the measure criticized it for not making deep enough cuts. Lee, a freshman and founding member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, said in a statement ahead of Wednesday's vote that he opposed the two-week plan, which was put forth by House Republicans late last week, calling it "a disappointing failure on the part of both parties to seriously address the economic meltdown we face from our massive deficit and growing national debt."

Sen. Lee's aversion to the only conceivable deal and a big win for conservatives is so noted.

Don Stewart, director of communications for Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had a different take. He told me, "Democrats have now acknowledged that the status quo is simply unacceptable. Now we need to finish the job."

Republican House leadership was equally cheery. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) released a statement that read:

The American people want us to cut spending while keeping the government running. Eleven days ago, the House passed H.R. 1, which accomplishes both of those goals. H.R. 1 makes common-sense spending cuts that economists say are needed to help boost our economy, while keeping the government running for the rest of the fiscal year. The responsibility lies with the Senate to now follow the House in passing legislation to cut spending and keep the government running through the end of the fiscal year.

Senate passage today of the House-passed short-term funding bill means the Senate now has two more weeks to accomplish this goal. Washington Democrats must either bring H.R. 1 to a vote in the Senate, or outline and pass their own plan for cutting spending and keeping the government funded through September.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) put out a near-identical statement.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made clear in his statement that this is the beginning and not the end of Republican budget-cutting, arguing that "while a good first step, we must cut far deeper than the $4 billion in total spending reductions contained in the Continuing Resolution, which are deeply inadequate to begin dealing with our nation's debt crisis. Job creators will not make new job-creating investments until the uncertainty of this debt crisis is resolved. A failure to tackle this problem in a serious and meaningful way will only further compound our economic problems and keep America on a path toward a diminished future."

And so the center of gravity has shifted. The question is now how much to chop from the remainder of the 2011 budget, and then how much to cut spending in the Republicans' soon-to-be-unveiled 2012 budget proposal. The president in his State of the Union address and the Senate Democrats in their initial opposition to any further cuts in the 2011 budget badly misread the public's enthusiasm for spending restraint. The Republicans now have the momentum to continue their push for fiscal sobriety.

Still to be determined are just how strenuously the White House will defend its domestic programs and how serious are the Republicans about entitlement reform, which as we all know, is where the real money is.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 2, 2011; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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If we do this 20 more times this year,we will cut the budget $80 Billion,a knock-out against big spending,we'll have cut the deficit to One Trillion,six hundred million,for this year.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 2, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

If we keep the good work up for 20 years,we will cover this year's deficit.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 2, 2011 3:08 PM | Report abuse

If you looked at the federal budget like you would your household budget (so we can begin to comprehend it), here's what you'd get if you scaled everything else around the 2009 census number for median household income. Your 2011 household budget would be $90,537, but your income would only be $51,425. You'd put the difference on your credit card, which already has a balance of $336,798. Out of that budget of $90,537, $5,975 would pay your credit card interest. The "draconian" (in the words of certain Democrats) $61 billion in spending cuts proposed by the Republicans would be equal to cutting back $113 a month from your $7,545 a month budget.

Anyone who called in to The Suze Orman Show with these kinds of numbers would get a royal scolding ("Are you kidding me?!!!"). This should not be a partisan issue. I could do all sorts of "good deeds" with our household income, from buying solar panels and an electric car to purchasing groceries at the store so I can donate them to the food bank, and while we do more than our share of donating to charity (at least according to national averages that TurboTax shows), we still have to live within our means. I expect no less from our government.

Posted by: coffeetime | March 2, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Good post by coffeetime. (s)he should have mentioned that you also promised to take care of grandma in her old age, which is going to cost several hundred thousand dollars, and you haven't saved a penny for that.

By the way, where was Barbara Boxer? If this vote was an opportunity for the most ideological and least rational in the Senate to self-identify, wouldn't you expect Senator Dumb-As-A-Brick to be first in line?

Posted by: Larry3435 | March 3, 2011 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Agree with coffeetime that this should not be a partisan issue. If we don't get the financial house in order, then there's nothing else to fight over. If we don't get the finances on track, nobody's desires will be possible.

Posted by: restons | March 3, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

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