"Do or Do not. There is no try."

Meanwhile…Washington’s Budget Folly

The Senate on Wednesday voted down the House budget bill, with its string of $61 billion in mostly political cuts through Sept. 30. That formally puts an end to the House’s grandstand play. But the Senate also rejected its Democratic leaders’ own plan to cut $6.5 billion. The government’s financing is due to run out in eight days. To prevent a shutdown, the two chambers will probably have to agree to yet another short-term financing bill.

That would be politically and fiscally irresponsible. But the House Republicans will be happy to agree, as long as Democrats agree to a vigorish of $2 billion a week in cuts to vital government programs.

Unless the White House and Democratic lawmakers start pushing back a lot harder — and do a better job of explaining the disastrous effects on the economy and everyday life — the Republicans will win the argument. If it keeps going on this way, they will get the $61 billion they demanded.

The White House again threatened on Wednesday to veto the House bill, and said it supported the Democratic bill that did not even draw a simple majority. It has been hosting what appear to be unproductive talks among legislative leaders; Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., who is nominally in charge of the talks, is now visiting Eastern Europe and tried to mediate by telephone.

President Obama has yet to take a firm public stand and make clear his bargaining limits and priorities. Understandably, he does not want the government to shut down and is hoping that quiet negotiations will produce better results than loud declarations of principle. But there is no sign that the House freshmen have an interest in compromise, or that Representative John Boehner, the House speaker, has any control of his caucus.

A brief shutdown, painful as it would be, would be far less damaging than a sudden withdrawal of tens of billions in government spending from the economy, which would lead to widespread layoffs.

Mr. Obama could well follow the example of Senator Charles Schumer of New York, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, who on Wednesday called for a “re-set” of the negotiating process. The only way to have a meaningful discussion of the budget, he said in a speech, is to consider all of its parts at once over the long term, not for a few weeks or months at a time. That includes all the issues the Republicans wouldn’t deal with in their bill: cuts to the entitlement programs and to the Pentagon budget and ways to raise revenues at the same time.

The Republicans, as Mr. Schumer noted, aren’t really interested in lowering the deficit. If they were, they would never have insisted on $800 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy without paying for them, or on repealing the health care law, which saves $230 billion over a decade.

They are only interested in slashing government, no matter the cost to the country. It is time for the president — and responsible Congressional leaders of both parties — to reject their tactics and their goal.

By: Editorial, The New York Times, March 9, 2011

March 11, 2011 - Posted by | Budget, Deficits, Economy, Federal Budget, Government Shut Down, Politics | , , , , , , , ,

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