On Spending Cuts, Democrats Give Voters the Brush Off. In 2012 the voters will return the favor.

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    May 09, 2011 8:51 PM GMT
    On Spending Cuts, Democrats Give Voters the Brush Off - Obama says he'll 'check under the cushions.' But neither he nor his allies on Capitol Hill have initiated any net reductions in spending since last fall's election. Not once

    Wall Street Journal, Opinion, May 9, 2011
    By Fred Barnes
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703992704576305332480567882.html?mod=ITP_opinion_0

    Do President Obama and Democrats want to cut spending? There's not much evidence they do. They have acquiesced to some cuts—but only under political duress.

    The importance of the spending issue escalated last Thursday with the start of budget negotiations between Democrats and Republicans under the direction of Vice President Joe Biden. The 2012 budget, an increase in the debt limit, and long-term reform of entitlements are all on the table.

    The parties have very different goals. While Republicans want a cap on spending, Democrats favor a ceiling on the deficit. The distinction is significant. A spending cap is straightforward. But a cap on the deficit can be satisfied by raising taxes, which Democrats prefer.

    To be sure, Mr. Obama frequently pays lip service to tackling spending. "We've got to comb through the budget and find every dime of savings that we can," he said at a town hall meeting last month in Reno. "We'll check under the cushions. Any program that's not working, we need to eliminate."

    But neither the White House nor congressional Democrats have initiated any net reductions in spending. Not once since the election. Their strategy is to defer to Republicans, then denounce whatever cuts Republicans come up with.

    In February, for example, the Republican-controlled House approved $61 billion in cuts from a $3.7 trillion budget of 2011 spending with a projected deficit of $1.6 trillion. In response, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the cuts "reckless."

    Mr. Reid then turned around and claimed to have proposed $41 billion in cuts himself. How so? The $41 billion was the difference between what Mr. Obama had called for in his never-enacted 2011 budget and what was actually spent. The "Fact Checker" of the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler, dismissed Mr. Reid's claim. "He's talking about cutting spending that never happened."

    Then, after Democrats reluctantly agreed to a mere $10 billion in cuts over the next five weeks, Senate Appropriations Committee Daniel Inouye professed outrage. "How much before we have to cancel the construction of dams, bridges, highways, levees, sewers, and transit projects and throw thousands of private-sector workers onto the street?" he said.

    The reality is that since the November midterm election—when voters expressed their displeasure with the pace of government spending—Democrats have had eight openings to initiate cuts. Let's review the record.

    The Democrats' first opportunity was during the lame-duck session of Congress in December. Senate Democrats sought to boost 2011 spending—fiscal 2011 had begun the previous September—by $19 billion. Their bill was studded with earmarks and pork-barrel expenditures. But it wasn't until Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lined up Republican votes to block the measure that Democrats gave up. Spending in 2011 remained frozen at the 2010 level.

    The second chance for spending cuts came in February when Mr. Obama unveiled his 2012 budget. The president said he had made "tough choices" but avoided "symbolic cuts this year that could endanger the recovery." His budget (now superseded) would have increased spending by $41 billion.

    The third chance (mentioned above) came a few days later when the House voted to cut $61 billion from 2011 spending. Senate Democrats responded with roughly $4 billion in cuts. Both proposals lost in the Senate, but the $61 billion plan got more votes than the Democratic alternative.

    In early March, Democrats had a fourth opportunity when the government's stopgap authority to spend—known as a "continuing resolution"—was due to expire, threatening a government shutdown. Mr. Reid attacked the Republican response to cut $2 billion while extending spending for two weeks as "reckless." But he grudgingly agreed to it.

    Democrats soon had another shot at getting in front with a spending plan for the remainder of fiscal 2011. They hung back. When the House attached $6 billion in cuts to a three-week extension, Democrats again went on the attack. They made no counteroffer. Eventually they went along with the Republican cuts, missing their fifth opening.

    At this point, Democrats saw they were losing the 2011 spending battle piecemeal. They abandoned any hope of a spending freeze. A freeze, by the way, isn't a cut. They settled with Republicans for $38 billion. This was the sixth opportunity they failed to seize.

    In April, Mr. Obama acted, involuntarily. His 2012 budget had been widely bashed, even by his supporters in the media. The president presented a new plan that he said imposed twice in spending cuts what it would collect in tax increases. The reverse is closer to the truth, though Mr. Obama was so vague that it's impossible to know. Another opening to propose a series of major cuts—No. 7—was wasted.

    The Democrats' eighth opportunity involves the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insists it must be raised by early August or the government will be forced into defaulting on its debt. He, Mr. Obama and Democrats have called for a "clean bill," one without spending cuts or caps attached. They've lost that argument. The question now is how much to concede to Republicans on spending to ensure an increase in the debt limit. In any case, they've failed to take the initiative.

    If Democrats' hostility to spending cuts wasn't clear from these episodes, it comes through in every speech Mr. Obama makes. He talks enthusiastically and at greater length about "investments" he intends to "protect" or "preserve." On the need for cuts, he sounds grim and apologetic.

    In revising his 2012 budget, the president proposed a clever mechanism for avoiding spending cuts. He called it a "debt fail-safe." If the debt burden doesn't shrink as a percentage of the economy, it would require "additional savings with more spending cuts." Except that as much as 90% of spending would be exempt, leaving little room for cuts and lots for raising taxes.

    The response of the president and Democrats to the message from the November election is now pretty clear. The voters asked for spending cuts. Mr. Obama and company have said no.

    Mr. Barnes is executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a commentator on Fox News Channel.
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    May 09, 2011 9:34 PM GMT
    Because there really is no serious plans to cut anything. The dems will point fingers at the Republicans that they aren't actually doing enough to cut while doing virtually nothing themselves. We all know that whichever group does the cutting is going to be the unpopular one because no one wants to be included in the ramifications of those cuts.
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    May 09, 2011 9:36 PM GMT
    mocktwinkie saidBecause there really is no serious plans to cut anything. The dems will point fingers at the Republicans that they aren't actually doing enough to cut while doing virtually nothing themselves. We all know that whichever group does the cutting is going to be the unpopular one because no one wants to be included in the ramifications of those cuts.

    I think that strategy is what the Democrats are following, but it is so obviously transparent that I think it will backfire.
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    May 09, 2011 9:40 PM GMT
    southbeach1500 saidLIES! LIES! LIES!

    BS! BS! BS!

    REPUBLICANS=EXTREME!

    From the words of wisdom in other threads, RJ members fall into one of two categories:
    1) Favor big government, spending like there's no tomorrow, giving entitlements for all, raising taxes, letting the deficit stay high, telling companies in what states they can do business,
    or
    2) Being anti-gay.
    See, isn't life simple?
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    May 09, 2011 9:49 PM GMT
    socalfitness said
    southbeach1500 saidLIES! LIES! LIES!

    BS! BS! BS!

    REPUBLICANS=EXTREME!

    From the words of wisdom in other threads, RJ members fall into one of two categories:
    1) Favor big government, spending like there's no tomorrow, giving entitlements for all, raising taxes, letting the deficit stay high, telling companies in what states they can do business,
    or
    2) Being anti-gay.
    See, isn't life simple?


    I think you're having a conversation only among yourselves on this one. Nice straw man. icon_rolleyes.gif

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    May 09, 2011 10:06 PM GMT
    It's called "politics". The Republicans did same and worse for Obama's first two years, including sad, desperate attempts to make Obama responsible for the bank bailouts.

    Why should the Dems propose spending cuts, which they have in some cases (see subsidies; oil, among others), when the Republicans have taken a cleaver to the budget?

    Let Ryan et al stand up for their plan or shut the fuck up.

    Really, do the Republicans do anything but whine these days?
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    May 09, 2011 10:07 PM GMT
    socalfitness said
    mocktwinkie saidBecause there really is no serious plans to cut anything. The dems will point fingers at the Republicans that they aren't actually doing enough to cut while doing virtually nothing themselves. We all know that whichever group does the cutting is going to be the unpopular one because no one wants to be included in the ramifications of those cuts.

    I think that strategy is what the Democrats are following, but it is so obviously transparent that I think it will backfire.


    Most voters are "low information" and don't pay attention until shortly before the election, at which point the Republicans will be hanging by their own petards.
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    May 09, 2011 10:44 PM GMT
    Christian73 said
    socalfitness said
    mocktwinkie saidBecause there really is no serious plans to cut anything. The dems will point fingers at the Republicans that they aren't actually doing enough to cut while doing virtually nothing themselves. We all know that whichever group does the cutting is going to be the unpopular one because no one wants to be included in the ramifications of those cuts.

    I think that strategy is what the Democrats are following, but it is so obviously transparent that I think it will backfire.


    Most voters are "low information" and don't pay attention until shortly before the election, at which point the Republicans will be hanging by their own petards.

    We shall see. This time Obama and the Democrats will have to defend their record.
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    May 09, 2011 10:48 PM GMT
    socalfitness said
    southbeach1500 saidLIES! LIES! LIES!

    BS! BS! BS!

    REPUBLICANS=EXTREME!

    From the words of wisdom in other threads, RJ members fall into one of two categories:
    1) Favor big government, spending like there's no tomorrow, giving entitlements for all, raising taxes, letting the deficit stay high, telling companies in what states they can do business,
    or
    2) Being anti-gay.
    See, isn't life simple?
    You actually believe that bullshit? Man up!
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    May 09, 2011 11:18 PM GMT
    TropicalMark said
    socalfitness said
    southbeach1500 saidLIES! LIES! LIES!

    BS! BS! BS!

    REPUBLICANS=EXTREME!

    From the words of wisdom in other threads, RJ members fall into one of two categories:
    1) Favor big government, spending like there's no tomorrow, giving entitlements for all, raising taxes, letting the deficit stay high, telling companies in what states they can do business,
    or
    2) Being anti-gay.
    See, isn't life simple?
    You actually believe that bullshit? Man up!

    Of course I don't buy that BS, but that is precisely the theme from many on the left. I just restated it in a stark way.
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    Posts: 5197

    May 10, 2011 2:19 AM GMT
    When the Republicans are serious about significant cuts to the defense budget, I'll believe they're serious about fiscal conservatism.