Senate Democrats and House Republicans are (again) positioning themselves for another round in the budget fight, as the latest self-imposed deadline to continue funding the government looms on April 8.

The two sides remain far apart -- Republicans want Senate Democrats to pass a budget before proceeding, Democrats want House Republicans to push through a new bill with more compromises built in — and it appears the public is rapidly souring on both parties in this extended waiting game.

In a new Pew poll, a whopping 52 percent said that there wasn’t much difference between President Obama and Republicans in Congress when it came to their respective approaches to the budget deficit. That’s a 19-point increase on that question since a November Pew survey.

The Pew numbers back up new data in the latest Washington Post/ABC News national poll, in which 43 percent said they trusted Obama more tofind the “right balance” on government issues, while 42 percent sided with Republicans in Congress.

Combine those data points, and two things become clear: People don’t side with either Democrats or Republicans on the budget fight and, as the debate drags on, they are growing more and more frustrated with the process.

Fully 49 percent in the Pew poll described the congressional debate over spending and the deficit as “rude” and “disrespectful,” while just 27 percent said it had been “polite” and “respectable.” And those numbers aren’t sharply divided along partisan lines, with 48 percent of self-identifying Democrats and the same amount of Republicans saying the debate has been uncivil. (Political independents are even more sour on it, with 57 percent of them describing the fight over spending and debt as “rude and disrespectful”.)

The lesson? Average people don’t like it when debates over policy turn into debates over process. Put another way: no one like to watch sausage being made, even if you love it when its sizzling on the grill.

Obama learned that lesson during 2009 and early 2010 in the health care legislative fight. The bill bogged down in Congress over a series of procedural fights and hurdles, allowing its opponents to tear it apart while the American public watched.

The longer his budget fight drags out — there is some talk of a deal not being made (if one is made at all) until May — the worse it will be for politicians of both parties. Cable talk shows, newspapers and blogs will be filled with process stories about which chamber should vote first or how a bill might be finagled to passage without any major compromises by either side.

Congress seems to know only one way to get things done: at the last minute. But polling suggests that waiting around for the next month (or so) before taking action could have major negative political consequences for both sides.

Angle-ing for Congress: Sharron Angle’s announcement Wednesday that she will run for the House rather than the Senate means the most interesting primary in Nevada in 2012 will probably be the one for Rep. Dean Heller’s (R-Nev.) House seat.

Already, Angle, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and state party chairman Mark Amodei are looking to Heller’s massive and rural Reno-based district as their ticket to Congress. And as we discussed Wednesday, a crowded primary only helps Angle.

Will Nevada Republicans — who largely said they wished they had nominated someone else for Senate — now vote her in for the House? Maybe.

Here’s why: Electing someone to the House is far different than electing someone to the Senate. The criteria is different because the positions are different.

When it comes to a senator, people are looking for leaders who will stand up for causes and be, well, senatorial. When it comes to the House, people are mostly just looking for someone who will vote the right way. Angle, no matter what you say about her, votes the right way for most conservatives.

There’s also the matter of what kind of race we’re talking about. Though this House primary might get more coverage than a lot of other ones, it will come nowhere close to comparing to a campaign against the powerful Senate majority leader, as was Angle’s 2010 campaign. The appetite for Sharron Angle news will not be nearly what it was last year, and she she be able to run a quieter campaign that avoids many of the pitfalls of her last one.

Rep. Sharron Angle? Quite possibly.


Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty will join former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) at an April 15 taxpayers rally in New Hampshire, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity.

First Lady Michelle Obama willwrite a book about the White House garden and healthy eating.

Physician Ami Bera (D), a strong fundraiser in 2010, is already in for a rematch with Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) — even though we don’t know what Lungren’s district will look like after a citizen-led redistricting process. (Hint: it could be a lot different.)

The chairman of the Jon Huntsman-allied Horizon PAC says it will support him if he runs for president, be it in 2012 ... or 2016.

Former Bush White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says Sarah Palin has no chance of winning a Republican presidential primary.

Obama has done four events for his political party this month.

Obama goes with the Kansas University to win the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

Conservative talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin are both urging Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to run for president.


Michele Bachmann’s opportunity” — Rich Lowry, National Review

Return of the neo-cons” — Ben Smith and Byron Tau, Politico

Striking the right bargain in Wisconsin” — Gov. Scott Walker, Washington Post