He didn’t call it “insulting,” actually. I’m calling it that; if you read last night’s post about how mind-bogglingly small their proposed cuts are, you know why. Here’s McConnell nailing the crux of the Democrats’ approach to sustainability, starting with Obama’s own insane budget proposal a few weeks ago and extending to the new “compromise” that would siphon off a dixie cup of red ink from the Red Sea that is this year’s deficit:
“The Democrats’ whole approach is to see what they can get away with, rather than to actually do something about the debt and jobs crisis Americans want us to address,” he said.
Bingo. And yet, even as I say that, I’m reluctant to pat him and Boehner on the back for what is, after all, an exceedingly modest proposed cut of their own. If the Democrats’ $6.5 billion in cuts is a dixie cup, the GOP’s $61 billion is a Big Gulp. There’s still a whole sea left to deal with. Speaking of which, for an alternative take on how they might have better used the political capital they amassed last November, read this piece by Bruce Bartlett. In essence, he argues, they’re wasting their time by going to war over a 2011 budget when the fiscal year’s already ticking away and the Democratic-controlled Senate is bound to negotiate them down on cuts. A better play would have been to dispense with the 2011 budget ASAP, get to work on meaningful cuts for the 2012 one, and then pass that. Once there’s a budget on the books (but not until then, per Senate rules), the GOP could then use reconciliation — which would nuke the filibuster in the Senate — to try to pass meaningful entitlement reform or some sort of long-term budget-balancing measure. They might not get there next year given that the Democrats still control the Senate, but who knows? They might peel off four Blue Dogs. And if not, they’re bound to have more seats in 2013 to use reconciliation. The point is to strike on the big-ticket items like Social Security and Medicare while the iron is hot. Instead they’re bogged down on the 2011 budget.
For what it’s worth, Boehner’s still promising to deliver entitlement reform in the GOP’s next budget proposal — and even apparently promised Obama that he’ll “lock arms” with him and stand with him if The One takes the lead on that issue. Think he’ll take Boehner up on the offer? One of the biggest, riskiest leadership tests in modern presidential history, with the Perpetual Campaigner just a year away from Election 2012? Oh well.