How does one define “halfway”? Barack Obama used his weekend address to claim that Democrats had met Republicans that far on proposed budget cuts, as Jake Tapper reports:
Repeating the administration line of the week — that they have met Republicans “halfway” on their proposed cuts — the president calls for both parties to come together and indicated that he is willing to cut more, yet gave no specifics.
“My administration has already put forward specific cuts that meet congressional Republicans halfway. And I’m prepared to do more. But we’ll only finish the job together – by sitting at the same table, working out our differences, and finding common ground. “
Really? The House GOP passed a budget for the rest of FY2011 that cut spending by a relatively paltry $61 billion, which looks nearly infinitesimal next to the $1.6 trillion deficit. However, Democrats in the Senate countered with just $6.5 billion in cuts, and Dick Durbin insisted yesterday that $10.5 billion would be cutting “to the limit” of a $3.7 trillion budget … or roughly 0.28% of the overall spending plan. Taking Durbin’s figure, the $10.5 billion in cuts would only be halfway if the Democrats’ position was to increase spending by $51 billion over Barack Obama’s original budget plan.
Maybe the White House should find common ground first in math before attempting to negotiate any more deals on budgeting.
Update: Chip Reid at CBS isn’t fooled:
The Democrats’ $51.3 billion is about half of the Republicans’ $102.3 billion, so they’re “meeting the Republicans half way.” Right? Wrong. What makes this nonsense is the fact that BOTH parties are using fake numbers. The $40.8 billion in savings used by Democrats and Republicans is imaginary — it’s not cuts, it’s the amount that would be saved by a freeze compared to a 2011 proposed budget that never came close to being enacted.
Without that imaginary $40.8 billion, the real numbers are Democrats: $10.5 billion; Republicans: $61.5 billion. So Democrats are meeting them one-sixth of the way.
Not only that, but as Reid explains, even the $10.5 billion in cuts from Democrats is illusory. They’re claiming credit for cutting almost $300 million from the ARC Tunnel project that Chris Christie canceled last year, for instance, and many of the other cuts are for programs they’ve previously sought to eliminate. As Reid says, this doesn’t come close to cutting it.
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