Senate may kill both Democratic, GOP budgets

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., center, takes a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, before introducing the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act, legislation that would give the president line-item veto authority. From left are: Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Manchin, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

In a demonstration of official Washington’s often curious logic, the Senate is expected to vote down both a slashing GOP budget bill and a less painful Democratic plan to demonstrate progress instead of gridlock.

The idea is to show both sides that they need to move toward each other to break a bitter stalemate over how much to cut spending as Congress wraps up last year’s unfinished budget work. The combatants are facing a March 18 deadline that already has Republicans in the House drafting another stopgap spending measure to make sure the government doesn’t shut down if a broader agreement isn’t reached by then.

Democrats on Wednesday are poised to kill the House-passed GOP plan, saying it cuts too deeply into programs like education, college aid, housing subsidies and a food program for low-income pregnant women and their babies. Republicans and some Democratic moderates are likely to kill a White House-backed Senate plan that cuts agency operating budgets about $11 billion below last year’s levels, saying that’s not enough when the deficit is projected to hit $1.6 trillion this year.

Freshman Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said the kabuki theater is a waste of time.

“Republicans will say Democrats don’t go far enough. Democrats will say Republicans go too far,” Manchin said Tuesday. “The truth is both are right, and both proposals will fail. Worse still, everyone in Congress knows they will fail.”

Manchin’s solution was to suggest roping President Barack Obama into nitty-gritty talks on the catchall spending bill — a job Obama assigned to Vice President Joe Biden.

At issue Wednesday are competing $1.2 trillion budget bills to fund the day-to-day operating budgets of every federal agency and provide a fresh $158 billion infusion for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has been particularly generous to domestic agencies in the two years he’s been in office, and Republicans controlling the House have promised to try to reduce such domestic “discretionary” spending back to levels in place in 2008.

The House GOP measure, Democrats say, would cram a year’s worth of cuts into just six months, greatly disrupting the operations of the government and leading to furloughs of many thousands of federal employees. The possibility of furloughs of federal workers doesn’t faze most Republicans.

“The only entity in America that’s not sacrificing during this economic downturn is federal government workers,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. “I can’t guarantee that somebody might not … be affected. But we have largely insulated the federal government from this recession.”

McConnell and his fellow Republicans say the Democratic alternative — it contains just $5 billion in fresh cuts — doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“Democrats are going to have to do a lot better than this if we stand a chance of getting our nation’s fiscal house in order,” he said. “Frankly, it’s embarrassing.”

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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One Response to "Senate may kill both Democratic, GOP budgets"

  1. m.terry  March 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Billions for this, Billions for that. It’s ~all~ an obscenity of the first order.

    Forget this “stop gap” stuff too. Send them home. Let them join the ranks of the unemployed. Stop the madness…we don’t need them.

    The Founders set up a system that will allow the periodic non-functioning of the legislative branch of government. Let them face their constituents for at least 3 months. Let them face the basic working, blue collar, tax payer and see if a few don’t get fired for their troubles.

    Let’s shut them down. We don’t need them. We never have. Look at what they’ve given us (to name just a very few):

    -”Entitlements”, about 1/3 of this country receives tax payer funded assistance in some form.
    If you take out legitimate disability claims, and retired people getting retirement benefits…there are still millions of people that those of us that are lucky enough to still have work support. Yet they “vote” to siphon ever more in an unending process as ~they~ see fit…

    - The “war” of poverty, and the “war” on drugs. Welcome to the two biggest crocks of sh*t ever passed off as legitimate legislation. Trillions of dollars wasted for nothing more that the building of bigger and bigger bureaucracies, and incremental advancement of the police state in direct defiance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    -The Patriot act. Neither patriotic nor an act. Just more expansion of the police state. Instead of “You touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested”, a free and sovereign citizen of this country should have been able to warn these clowns that “You grab my junk, I’ll leave you broken and bleeding on the floor”. A fair warning. A verbal reaffirmation of the Gadsden principle. What has the systematic encroachment of or freedoms given us? Lines of complacent sheeple, willing to be assaulted, molested, and walked over by the thugs that think they can do anything they want to anyone they want…just to be allowed to get on an airplane. Don’t misunderstand me here. I am in favor of reasonable amounts of security at airports. What most people don’t see is that the system is set up to be “reactive” not “proactive” and it is also set up to detect large groups and the logistics that it takes to run such a group. Small groups or individuals will simply slip through largely undetectable. So once again the law abiding are punished by their own government because they’re…well…convenient, and won’t stand up for their own 4th Amendment rights.

    The very response that I am now submitting to this page as commentary, will no doubt be parsed by some thug in a cube somewhere to see if I qualify for a ticket to Gitmo. I love my country. I believe in the greatness that this country has been and can be again, but I ~loathe~ the vaunting ambition, and the absolute illegality currently seen as “normal” by governments of any stripe.

    They are not to big to fail. I say let them run out of money, and send them home, then the rest of us can simply get on with living in peace without those that contribute nothing, and yet demand (or even confiscate) so much of country’s prosperity for their own nefarious purposes.

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