Meanwhile, back in Washington, Republican leaders are facing a Democrat-controlled Senate that is resisting any efforts to seriously cut this year's spending. The Senate Democrats rejected the House's budget plan, but were unable to muster the 60 votes needed to take up their own minuscule plan to nick just $10 billion in spending in the remaining six months of the fiscal year.
Notably, in key votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is losing a big chunk of his own members, who said the $10 billion spending cut was a joke. In Wednesday's cloture vote on Reid's budget bill, 11 Democrats joined all 47 Republicans in opposing it.
This discomfort with fiscal turpitude takes place in an atmosphere of wider insecurity. A few weeks ago, President Obama was bragging about the jobs numbers, the stock market and the economy, which he said was back on track.
But now many economists are saying that it will be years before the high unemployment rate returns to normal. Oil prices have shot up to more than $100 a barrel, forcing gasoline prices to nearly $4 a gallon, which could sandbag the recovery and force new layoffs. The stock market is tanking on fears of sky-high energy costs, uncontrolled spending and unprecedented federal debt, shrinking retirement accounts. Forecasters say we could very well be facing another year in which one million homes are foreclosed.
Americans are justifiably worried about all this, but especially the specter of runaway government spending, which burdens taxpayers and weakens our economy. A new analysis of Obama's budget plan by Brian Riedl at the Heritage Foundation says it will "raise taxes by $1.6 trillion over the next decade and borrow 43 cents for each dollar spent in 2011."
This is why the Republicans' budget-cutting movement is gaining strength and winning the early rounds. Are all those cooking shows and old movies, not to mention the left-wing programming on NPR and public television, really worth adding to a $1.6 trillion deficit?