Democrats in Disarray Over 2011 Spending Cuts

Posted: Mar 08, 2011 11:59 AM
While Republicans remain united behind their modest $61 Billion 2011 budget cut package (now $57 Billion, following last week's $4 Billion slash), several vulnerable Democrats are going wobbly.  Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin insisted on Fox News Sunday that his party's proposed $6.5 Billion in additional cuts (which the CBO says is actually closer to $4.7 Billion) constitutes "the limit" of what Democrats would deem acceptable:

Ed Morrissey adds some perspective to just how puny the Republican cuts really are, exposing the absurdity of Durbin's "pushed to the limit" rhetoric:

...The GOP’s cuts only amount to 1.6% of the total budget, which hardly amounts to trimming the fat, let alone the meat or bone.  Even if only discretionary spending is considered, the $61 billion from $1.3 trillion means a reduction of just 4.7%, hardly noticeable after the runup of discretionary spending by Democrats over the last four years by 24%.  It’s less than 8% of Obama’s stimulus package from 2009, hardly a “draconian” cut by any measure except in Beltwayese.

Democrats still insist that their supplementary $6.5 $4.5 Billion cut proposal "meets Republicans halfway."  A standard-issue grade school calculator might take issue with that fuzzy math, and the Washington Post's fact checkers aren't impressed:

Democrats have offered just over $10 billion -- the $4 billion in the stop gap measure and the $6.5 billion announced late Thursday. Republicans have proposed $61 billion, so the gap between the two parties remains wide indeed.

"Halfway" is an appealing concept, but thus far Democrats have done little to match the cost-cutting drive launched by Republicans.

Repeating the same talking point over and over again does not make it correct.  We'll award two Pinocchios again, but if Democrats keep saying this -- or President Obama says it -- it will start to move into three Pinocchio territory.

That was written on Saturday, and wouldn't you know it, Democrats are still repeating the lie today.  Time to break out that third Pinocchio, WaPo.

A number of Democrats are stepping forward to announce they might have a higher threshold for budget cut pain than Durbin lets on:

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) - "This proposal, which calls for $6.5 billion in new cuts, utterly ignores our fiscal reality.  Why are we doing all this when the most powerful person in these negotiations - our president - has failed to lead this debate or offer a serious proposal for spending and cuts that he would be willing to fight for?" 

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) - “I feel strongly that the cuts are not large enough, but there are some cuts, so I don’t know whether I’ll be for it or against it. But I know it doesn’t go as far as we need to go.”

Republicans have the strategic upper hand, the facts on their side, and public support.  Democrats are floundering and seeking leadership from the White House, which has thus far voted present.

UPDATE:  The NRSC is already hitting Manchin and McCaskill for their "moderate" act, suggesting that red state Democrats up for re-election know how to talk a good game, but almost always vote the wrong way in the end.  Indeed.

UPDATE IIThree Pinocchios it is!

The Democrats' posturing that they have met Republicans "halfway" on budget cuts does them no credit. Either they should take a stand and say they won't accept any further cuts, or they should begin a real negotiation that leads to a higher number. Obama signaled he was willing to deal when he said he was "prepared to do more." But the persistent claims of going "halfway" when in fact Democrats have done little to engage Republicans on the issue will only hurt their credibility in the long run.

Three Pinocchios