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One budget debate, two sets of facts

By DAVID ESPO
April 1, 2011

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, center, is joined by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, right, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, left, as GOP senators call for an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced federal budget, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, March 31, 2011. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

To hear the Democrats tell it, House Republicans are being dragged by their extreme tea party allies to shut down the government, yet agreement is near on a sensible package of spending cuts to prevent it.

And according to Republicans, Democrats want a government shutdown and talks aren’t all that far along to avoid one.

Welcome to divided government, where each party lays claim to its own set of facts, federal agencies face a shutdown on April 9 without a compromise and any progress toward a deal is wrapped in partisan rhetoric.

“Now, here’s the bottom line. Democrats are rooting for a government shutdown,” House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday at a news conference.

Republicans are “listening to the people who sent us here to cut spending so we can grow our economy. As I said from the beginning, our goal is to cut spending, not shut down the government.”

Democrats have yet to outline a plan to cut spending, he added, “only rhetoric portraying the American people as extreme.”

A few hours later, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., strode onto the Senate floor and said, “We are right at the doorstep of a deal.”

“As the vice president said last night, there has been agreement to meet in the middle, around $33 billion in cuts,” he said. The New York Democrat referred to Vice President Joe Biden‘s statement in the Capitol on Wednesday evening that the two sides were working on a deal containing that level of cuts.

Schumer, who has taken on an increasingly visible role within his party, noted that one prominent conservative columnist had predicted that Republicans would be blamed politically if there were a shutdown.

“It bothers me when I hear some on the other side of the aisle or in the tea party say we should shut down the government,” he said.

Despite the daily rhetorical barrage, the two sides have shown flexibility in recent days as the deadline draws closer.

At his news conference, Boehner said Republicans would fight for all the spending cuts they could. But he noted they could not “impose our will” on the Democrats and pointedly refrained from insisting on the full $61 billion contained in legislation the House passed more than a month ago.

Two days earlier, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Democrats were willing to consider limitations on government regulators as well as other non-spending items the House seeks. In exchange, Democrats expect Republicans to scale back on their demands for spending cuts.

Reid did not identify any, but other officials have said curbs on the Environmental Protection Agency and other government regulators were likely candidates. Another is a proposed ban on the use of government funds to pay for abortions for poor women living in the District of Columbia.

Additionally, Boehner has made a personal priority of a measure the House passed earlier this week to reinstate school vouchers for District of Columbia students. The program is the only one in the country that uses federal tax dollars to subsidize private-school tuition.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

 

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4 Responses to One budget debate, two sets of facts

  1. logtroll

    April 1, 2011 at 9:57 am

    If the R’s were truly working to fix the budget, then expiration of the Bush tax cuts should be on the table.

    My third grader showed me that the problem won’t be fixed by cutting alone. That’s not even ‘math’, it’s arithmatic.

    Idiots.

  2. woody188

    April 1, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Can’t wait to see the government shutdown from a default on it’s debt. Oh don’t worry, they’ll prop it up by The Fed buying Treasuries. Then inflation will cause the crash. Either way, we are in for a major crash. That will be the result of not cutting the budget or raising taxes. It’s a no-win situation.

    I’m sure there will be plenty of finger-pointing and blame to go around. Most won’t care because they’ll be too busy picking trash for their next meal. It’s only a matter of time now.

  3. bogofree

    April 1, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    At least I know where all the bean counters from Enron and World Com landed – working on the federal budget. Bernie Madoff should not be locked up but be the Major Domo of all things financial with the feds.

    Try to spend a wee bit less, get funding sources before you initiate a program (purchase) and carry a lot less debt. That is household finance 101 that most folks manage to do.

  4. Almandine

    April 1, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    What really bugs me is the Alfred E. Neumann looks all those pols have on their faces while our financial house of cards is collapsing all around.

    Is it ignorance or stupidity?