It’s long, but it needs to be. Only by systematically piecing through the allegedly inexhaustible stash of wealth socked away in rich people’s bank accounts will you realize how galactic our spending problem is and how meager our resources are to solve it. Although, ironically, this illustrates why I’ve lost interest in the sturm und drang of this year’s budget battle: In the words of grassroots hero Jeff Flake, given the magnitude of the crisis, it’s “small ball.”
With a rally planned for Thursday by Tea Party activists to encourage Republicans to hold their ground, some lawmakers said they believed that backing away from cuts already approved by the House would tell voters that Republicans have reverted to legislative business as usual.
“This is a defining moment,” said Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana.
But other fiscal hawks said it might be time to end the dispute, which is over how much government spending to approve through Sept. 30, and move on to more consequential fights over increasing the federal debt limit and writing the budget for 2012.
“There are a lot of people who know this is small ball and are ready to get to the debt limit increase,” said Representative Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona. “A lot of us recognized we were not going to end up with $100 billion in the final product.”
See also Yuval Levin’s post at the Corner arguing that any heart-ache that occurs from Republicans compromising on “small ball” to finish this year’s negotiations will be undone when Paul Ryan and company introduce their historic budget for 2012 that addresses entitlements. Indeed. Meanwhile, McConnell’s planning to introduce the GOP’s new Balanced Budget Amendment this afternoon co-sponsored by all 47 Republicans in the Senate. It probably won’t pass — 20 Democrats are needed, a tall order even in the current electoral climate — but it’s superb politics to force Reid et al. to explain to the public, over and over as the debt ceiling debate comes to a head, why Democrats can’t pledge themselves to fiscal sustainability in the form of a BBA. Make them keep talking about it all the way into next year, with The One himself left stammering at the debates about how Hopenchange really means deficit spending unto death. Can’t wait.