How important is budget cutting to you?  Do you believe that when the federal government fails to grow that constitutes a cut?  The Democrats claim that since no budget was passed last year any continuation of existing spending levels represents a $41 billion dollar cut.  Does that make sense to anyone other than a politician?

Republicans in Congress are calling for a reduction in spending of $61 billion dollars.  They mean a true cut, not a reduction in the rate of growth.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid unveiled a $1.1 trillion bill which imposes $6.5 billion in new spending cuts.  He went to on to state that both that bill and the House GOP bill (the one with $61 billion in real cuts) will never make it to the Whitehouse.  How cynical can you get!

Reid went on to say, “We’ll end up back at square one without consensus, without a budget for the rest of this fiscal year, and without assurances that we can keep the country running.  So, once these votes are behind us, and everyone’s voice is heard, I hope each senator and member of Congress will find renewed motivation to do what we needed to do since the beginning, come together and negotiate in good faith.”  But how can there be good faith when the Senate Democrats believe that not growing by $41 billion dollars in 2011 is akin to a cut of $41 billion dollars.  Where’s the logic?

Here’s the Dems logic:  I have a gym membership that costs me $1,500 a year.  This year I was going to add my wife and my daughter at an additional annual cost of $2,000.  But when I looked at my checkbook I saw there wasn’t a spare $2,000, so I didn’t add my wife and daughter.  That would be a Democrat’s logic of a cut.  Nothing was cut, I just didn’t add another 2,000.  I’m still spending the same $1,500 I spent last year.  Now here’s a scenario of a real cut: I join the local pool every year at an annual cost of $3,000.  I decided that my family can no longer afford it, so I cancelled my membership,” reducing my annual expenses by $3,000.  Why can most sane people understand this but the Democrats can’t?

And while Reid is looking to negotiate in good faith, he might start by ceasing to call the House GOP legislation “mean-spirited” and “political,” and as “a mad rush to see who could do the most sensational amendment.”  If the best the Democrats can manage is a $6.5 billion real cut in spending in a $1.6 trillion dollar budget, they need to consider a new line of work.  Perhaps the Democrats find the areas being cut by the Republicans inappropriate.  Fair enough.  All they need to do to have good faith negotiations is to offer up equivalent reductions in other programs.  When there’s an order of magnitude difference between what the GOP believes should be cut and what the Democrats believe should be cut there’s no meaningful negotiations possible.  Had the Dems come up with $35 or $40 billion in cuts, perhaps there’s a starting point, but $6.5 versus $61 billion is a bridge too far.  So the 2 week continuing resolution is nothing more than kicking the can down the road.

Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader, called the $6.5 billion in cuts in Reid’s 352-page bill, “little more than one more proposal to maintain the status quo — to give the appearance of action where there is none. This latest proposal is unacceptable, and it’s indefensible.”

House Speaker John Boehner, said, “The Whitehouse and congressional Democrats finally announced their position. Unfortunately, it is little more than the status quo, and the status quo is indefensible and unacceptable.”

Lawmakers have until March 18, when the current two-week, stopgap spending plan expires, to find some middle ground between $6.5 billion and $61 billion.  So don’t expect anything more than another 2-week continuing resolution, or perhaps even a government shutdown.  Personally, I vote to shut down Capitol Hill.  I don’t see that anything productive can happen up there other than finger-pointing and howling rhetoric.  If President Obama is truly serious about getting our finances under control, it’s time for him to step up to the plate.  He needs to direct the Senate Democrats to wake up and realize that we must get our fiscal house in order.  And if you believe that will happen, I know of some oil-rich swamp land down in Louisiana that can be had for a song.