It’s beginning to look a lot like a shutdown

at 03:37 PM ET, 03/28/2011

(Alex Brandon - AP)
Brian Beutler has a nice story running down the state of play on the budget negotiations. The takeaway is that Republicans aren’t just insisting that Democrats cut as deep as the GOP wants, but that they also cut in the way the GOP wants. House Appropriations Committee aide Bob Inglee, for instance, told Democrats “they should reach a spending cut target by choosing from the menu of cuts included in the controversial House-passed continuing resolution.” Reading this, you really wouldn’t know that Democrats, who control both the White House and the Senate, technically have a lot more power than Republicans, who only control the House. At the very least, no one appears to have told this to the Republicans.

At any rate, Democrats, as you might imagine, aren’t interested in sticking to the menu House Republicans drew up for them. Can you imagine Chuck Schumer saying, “I’ll take the education cuts, with a side of defunding Planned Parenthood”? Democrats, rather, have begun looking for savings outside the non-defense domestic discretionary budget. And they’ve found some, But Republicans aren’t happy about it.

Asked about the offer the White House has floated, a top Republican aide says, “This debate has always been about discretionary spending — not autopilot ‘mandatory’ spending or tax hikes.”

Funny. I thought this debate had always been about the deficit, or at least cutting spending. Guess not. Rather, the Republican position appears to be: “How do we preserve current tax rates and most current spending while getting Democrats to accept deep cuts to the small fraction of the budget called non-defense discretionary spending?” It's a weird position, but it looks to be what we’re dealing with.

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