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When Failure's a Win, You Can't Lose

April 6, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

No matter where you stand on the government spending issue, you’ve got to be impressed by the Republicans’ tenacity in the negotiations. They only control one chamber of Congress, but they’ve already secured the support of Senate Democrats and the Obama White House for $33 billion in cuts, which is more than the amount their leader, Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8], had originally proposed. Now, with support for that level secured and a few days remaining before a shutdown, they’ve moved their target further, demanding something more like $40 billion in cuts or no deal. As National Journal reports, the Democrats are now close to accepting the new target:

Negotiators working on six-month funding measure to avert a government shutdown on Saturday morning are reporting progress from talks on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to people close to the negotiations. The movement appears to the result of willingness by Democrats to entertain total cuts approaching the $40 billion target floated by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday.

A Republican familiar with talks said negotiators are also nearing a compromise on the issue of policy riders and the breakdown of cuts in mandatory and discretionary spending in the bill. Republicans want to maintain $33 billion in cuts to discretionary spending in order to lower that baseline spending level moving forward. Appropriators on both sides of the aisle suggest that they will be ready to cut a deal once they receive a topline number of total cuts under which to work and guidance on what spending limitations to include. 

House Republicans have pushed for inclusion of at least a few spending limitations, or riders, the House approved in February. Those include measures to block parts of the health care reform law; a provision to strip funding for Planned Parenthood; and another that would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from spending money to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

If the shutdown wasn’t scheduled for Saturday, I’m sure this could keep going until the Democrats caved all the way to the Tea Party’s $61 billion. The fact is, for the Republicans, the only undesirable outcome would be meeting the Democrats in the middle. A shutdown is acceptable, as are the sharp cuts they’ve proposed (and the Senate rejected). As Ezra Klein noted this morning, the Republican Caucus is applauding their leadership for steering them towards a shutdown. WaPO: “House Republicans huddled late Monday and, according to a GOP aide, gave the speaker an ovation when he informed them that he was advising the House Administration Committee to begin preparing for a possible shutdown.” Watching this whole thing play out it’s becoming clear that ideologically-driven activists have influence in Congress on the right, but not on the left. If there’s a progressive movement, it’s not being felt in the federal legislative process.  

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  • dbrisinda 04/06/2011 8:29pm

    This doesn’t make sense. $33 billion, $40 billion or even $50 billion is peanuts compared to the cuts that are required to ensure any kind of a future.

    Also note, we’re not cutting $33 billion from the previous year’s spending — we’re cutting from the proposed INCREASE in spending. So it if were to increase by $100 billion from last year, the proposal is to cut $33 billion from that increase. Also realize $30 billion is 3 days worth of spending.

    We will have a $1.65 trillion deficit for 2011. $33 billion cut from proposed increases is not enough to change the direction of the country. Even with $40 billion in cuts, we will be looking at $1.61 trillion deficit. Don’t you see how nonsensical this is?


  • Comm_reply
    donnyshaw 04/06/2011 8:45pm

    No, it’s $33 billion from 2010 levels.

  • Comm_reply
    dbrisinda 04/07/2011 6:14pm

    No. It’s $33 billion cut from the INCREASE from 2010 levels.

    Given the data below, it’s clear that estimated budget spending has INCREASED by $270 billion from 2010 levels according to Obama’s own updated 2011 projections. Therefore, proposed cuts of $33 billion, would only serve to reduce the INCREASE in projected spending from $270 billion to $237 billion.

    2010 Federal Budget:

    Mandatory spending: $2.01 trillion (6.3%)
    Discretionary spending: $1.37 trillion (
    Total spending: $3.55 trillion (+12.9%)
    Total revenue: $2.38 trillion
    Deficit: $1.17 trillion


  • Comm_reply
    dbrisinda 04/07/2011 6:14pm


    2011 Federal Budget (estimated*):

    Mandatory spending: $2.69 trillion (33.8%)
    Discretionary spending: $1.13 trillion (-17.5%)
    Total spending: $3.82 trillion (
    Total revenue: $2.17 trillion
    Deficit: $1.65 trillion

    *On February 14, 2011, President Obama released his 2012 Federal Budget. The report updated the projected 2011 deficit to $1.645 trillion. This is based on estimated revenues of $2.173 trillion and outlays of $3.818 trillion.

  • dbrisinda 04/06/2011 8:29pm


    Either we need a government shutdown of all non-essential services (especially nation-building overseas), or a more serious $500+ billion cut. And we can begin with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya. We spend $1 trillion per year just on warfare alone. Utterly absurd.

    We cannot survive trillion dollar annual deficits. Period.

    When an institution that was supposed to represent the people gets out of control, there is only one solution: starve it to bring it back inline to what our Founding Fathers envisioned a government should be: providing essential services only. Certainly not a monolithic behemoth that has it’s hands in every aspect of our lives.

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 04/06/2011 11:36pm

    Republicans haven’t been serious the entire time, Obama wanted to cut the F-22 alternative engine, and the navy’s new all purpose boat tank development program, And in both cases the pentagon has said that it would like to cancel these programs. Mr. Majority leader toke both cuts out of Obama’s proposed budget, funny bit the F-22 alternative engine project is in his district.

    Also most of the deficit is temporary spending related to unemployment, additional aid to states for increased medicaid costs, and an almost half trillion dollar short fall in tax revenue.

    This years total defense budget is actually $1.22 trillion dollars. Just imagining what we could do with that money domestically to improve our nations international competitiveness,… such a waste.

  • Comm_reply
    eth111 04/07/2011 2:44am

    Let’s change the frame of the debate and all start pointing at opportunity in the programs that we like best. The reality is that if all of the discretionary spending stopped, went to $0, the entitlement programs (referred to as mandatory spending) consume all of the government revenue.

    I do not disagree that the defense budget is out of control (my pet peeve is foreign aid and bases in 130 countries) and I agree that we need to get out of the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan. The F-22 is much more nefarious than you have highlighted. It is spread out across 40 states – 80% of the Senate has direct constituent interest even before the special interest lobbyists get their fingers in.

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 04/07/2011 4:11pm

    The alternative engine program is something beyond the F-22 program itself. But yea you have the general idea of it.

    Remember that $553 billion dollars of that entitlement spending(unemployment) is temporary and a direct result of the downturn, most of this will go away with time.

    As to Medicare and Medicaid, their isn’t anything wrong with the programs themselves. As their problems are directly caused by the explosion of medical costs that are industry wide, and a good chunk of those costs are a direct consequence of the fee for service multi-payer private health delivery system. Medicare atleast has managed splendidly as its cost growth has been much lower then that of private insurance(a 4% growth rate as opposed to 6-7% from private plans).

  • Comm_reply
    luminous 04/07/2011 4:11pm

    As always I suggest single payer, it is the best way to both lower costs and control growth. Tho an All-payer system might work as well(France or Germany are examples), but I am not entirely sure American corporations are capable of working in that sort of setup.

  • Comm_reply
    dbrisinda 04/07/2011 6:27pm

    Yes, you’re absolutely right, both Republicrats and Demapublicans haven’t been serious the entire time, and I would add hardly at all.

    We have to stop putting these knuckleheads in office and start exercising our due diligence by seeing how these politicians vote on proposed legislation to get an understanding of what their true intentions are.

    Most of them promise one thing and act completely contrary when it comes down to a congressional or senate vote. At this stage, the only candidates we should take seriously, whether Dems or Repubs or Indies, are those that ACT to cut the size of government dramatically.

    Even if we left mandatory spending alone (which includes medicare, social security, medicaid, welfare, interest on the debt, etc.), and cut just discretionary spending, that’s still over $1.2 trillion in spending we can cut from. There is no reason in the world we can’t reduce this by half or more. Much of it could come from the Department of Offence budget.

  • eth111 04/07/2011 2:37am

    I believe at this point it is more about setting the precedent of moving in the direction of fedzilla spending less than it is about the dollar amounts. Also, we are already 6 months into the fiscal year that the current debate is all about. The 112th Congress is trying to do what the 111th Congress failed to, even when a single party had control of both houses. The 111th Congress took a pass using the Continuing Resolution as opposed to doing their job as they were too busy ramming socialist policies down our throats.

    Get the gloom, doom, and disaster out of the way (the “specter” of gov’t shutdown) and have a real debate about the entire budget. When the federal government alone (not counting all of the local and state) is spending 25% of the GDP, there should be no sacred programs.

    There are 18 enumerated powers in Article I Section 8. Put Fedzilla back on the original plan and the budget falls into place quickly.

  • myakus 04/07/2011 9:58am

    Who’s kidding who? With trillion dollar deficits being planned for by the Progressives, including the Administration, they’ve got their hooks in the budget already. They’ve already won the dollar amount. Now, it’s a holding action to keep the loot they’ve taken.

  • Spam Comment

  • mchugjjjj 04/08/2011 8:33pm

    Hello Everyone,
    What is this debate about? Well we all know it’s about an ancient animosity one party still hold onto. It’s about staying in power at any expense, and by promoting hatred, fear and inciting anger. They want to divide our nation as a means to succeed. After almost eleven years we are still playing into our enemies hands, and that’s why we’ve lost all creditability. Its not about restoring America, Its about settling the scores! Who really wants to rehash this insanity? The party who was actually responsible the surplus and economic prosperity is the same party that spent irresponsibly for most of the last decade and, now holds our government for political ransom. Shamefully they are the same people responsible for bullets, bailouts, and bad tax brakes that lead us down this despicable path. Just my thoughts on the matter! Thanks John

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