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Posted at 10:36 AM ET, 03/ 8/2011

What about those budget talks?

By Jennifer Rubin

Last week the White House put Joe Biden in charge of the negotiations over the 2011 budget. He promptly left for an overseas trip, and then Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) took to the airwaves on Sunday to say Democrats wouldn't be offering any more cuts.

So what is going on? Not much, it turns out. A Republican Senate adviser told me, "I think they may be talking to Dems. But there are no meetings scheduled with us."

Instead, the Democrats are staging some votes, which reveal just how unserious the Democrats' position on spending reduction is, as Chris Stirewalt reports:

The Senate today will vote on two proposals to cut spending for the final 28 weeks of the federal fiscal year. The House-passed Republican plan would cut $57 billion. The White House-backed plan from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would cut $4.7 billion.

Dems originally touted the Obama-Reid as a $6.5 billion cut, but the Congressional Budget Office sheared $1.7 billion off the number Monday, saying that some of the purported reductions were derived from not continuing emergency funding that isn't part of baseline spending. . . The Republican plan would reduce the projected deficit for the current year of $1.65 trillion by about 3.7 percent. The Democratic plan would reduce the deficit by about one half of one percent.

This is reminiscent of the disastrous votes Reid insisted on holding during last year's lame duck session. Rather than showing how stalwart Democrats were, those votes revealed a lack of Democratic support for ending the Bush tax cuts. And they put Red state Democrats in an awkward position. The same is likely true here: Do Senate Democrats facing an electorate skeptical of their fiscal sobriety really want to back Reid's puny cuts?

As the tax votes did, these spending votes could well reveal how weak the Senate's bargaining position really is. And that, in turn, may -- when Biden's schedule permits -- jump-start the budget talks. But we certainly will have a clearer picture of who is determined to re-establish fiscal discipline and who is not.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 8, 2011; 10:36 AM ET
Categories:  Budget  
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Comments

"But we certainly will have a clearer picture of who is determined to re-establish fiscal discipline and who is not." ---J. Rubin

The budget differences being compared here are meaningless. Each party is trying to demonstrate that its arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic is better for the passengers.

It's bidness as usual on Capitol Hill.

Posted by: MsJS | March 8, 2011 10:49 AM | Report abuse

To Ritchie Emmons,
Tell me what you think:
"Devoted Randians and those disappointed by the monetary policy of Greenspan and his successor, Ben Bernanke, point out yet another “Atlas Shrugged” scene: the famous money speech of Francisco d’Anconia: “Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper.”
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-08/greenspan-grapples-for-stimulus-with-ayn-rand-commentary-by-amity-shlaes.html
"The dollar has lost about 80% of its purchasing power since August 15, 1971. This technically might be considered a decline rather than a swing. Still, an 80% decline is a much wider ”swing” than anything in the record of the classical gold standard."
http://blogs.forbes.com/ralphbenko/2011/03/07/the-dollar-sets-gold-also-rises/

Everyday we read spirited discussions about our currency. What fascinates me is the intensity of the Conservatives interest in cutting spending and shrinking the size of government,and the strange lack of interest in the actual value of money,a discussion which of necessity involves the Fed. I have never seen a reference to the Fed from Ms Rubin,in any of her essays,and Commentary,Weekly Standard,NRO avoid it also.
Gold is now $1400+ an Oz,does that amaze anyone?
The greater point here is that we can't manage our government debt until we control the value of that debt.
Free market ideology mistakenly applied itself to our money,Fiat FLOATING currency is a market commodity,but business requires stable currency to flourish.
I have no illusions that the RIGHT,which historically had the role of safeguarding the value of our money,will continue its disregard of this basic issue. Obamanomics and Boehnernomics in this regard are identical,keep the Fiat Floating Currency system until Default. Default itself will be the mechanism of reducing the size of the Government

Posted by: rcaruth | March 8, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

We must get a grip on our debt but the democrats are just sitting on their hands. Obama, shape up.

Posted by: farmsnorton | March 8, 2011 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The debt "crisis" is like a replay of the Saddam has WMD "crisis" that "required" us to invade Iraq. Except this time it is cynically stoked fear that interest rates will go up, and crowd out private investment. Which is why the interest rate on my recently obtained mortgate is less than the one my parents obtained in 1963. Or something like that.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | March 8, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@oldabandonedbeachhouse

“Which is why the interest rate on my recently obtained mortgate is less than the one my parents obtained in 1963.”

I bet it is not as low as the rate Chris Dodd got on his Irish getaway…

And what does that have to do with the debt crisis? I suspect that it has more to do with it than we presently know.

Posted by: nvjma | March 8, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Great on point comeback demonstrating your grasp of the subject matter.

Posted by: oldabandonedbeachhouse | March 8, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Hello RCAR, I'm sorry I'm so late in responding. I didn't get to this article until later in the evening.

I'd say that we're gonna be in for some economic shock if you're right about our monetary policy. Do you have any links for me to an article from a respected source that argues the other side? That suggests that a fiat currency is just fine - or even preferable? I'd be interested to read the other side.

Maybe the conservative desire to cut spending is ultimately an exercise in futility like you say, but my desire is not merely to cut spending (domestic especially) for the sake of reducing the deficit/debt. It's to rob the Left of the ability to turn America into a nanny state. You posit that eventually the currency will default and we'll therefore have less govt. However, I'm not quite prepared to wait around and passively let that happen. And if it indeed does happen, who knows when it actually will be.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | March 8, 2011 9:52 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone 81% poorer than they were in 1971? Were women that much happier in the good old days when they didn't (have to or get to?) work for wages? Is the automobile, TV, pick your toy, bought in 1971 better than the car(etc.) you buy today? What the heck is "value" or "purchasing power" anyway?

Posted by: aardunza | March 8, 2011 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I could have sworn that said 81%! It must be because that year was 1971 and I conflated (inflated?) the last digits together of the two figures in my defectiver-by-the-day-especially-post-meal memory. How about 81% since 1970, though that's probably too low? :)
All questions rhetorical, naturally.

Posted by: aardunza | March 8, 2011 11:50 PM | Report abuse

To Ritchie Emmons,FOR fiat Money/read the life work of Ben Bernanke/or 99% of the College Economists/including the latest Samuelson

Posted by: rcaruth | March 9, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Aardunza,
It's taken a big bubble to make us feel as rich today as we used to be. The pain comes as the bubble shrinks. Some people thrive on illusions/delusions,a few don't care for that way of living. Nothing new about this,see Plato/The Cave Allegory/written 2500 years ago.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 9, 2011 9:20 AM | Report abuse

OK RCAR, thanks.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | March 9, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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