President Obama has been saying throughout the negotiations over funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 that he is willing to meet House Republicans “halfway” when it comes to their desired spending reductions. But Democrats have already agreed to far more than that, as House Republicans have continually moved the goalposts instead of cutting a deal to avert a government shutdown.
The original House Republican proposal for the rest of fiscal year 2011 called for about $30 billion in spending reductions from the 2010 level of spending. However, a Tea Party-inspired revolt forced Republicans to increase that total to $61 billion, which is the total that they passed in H.R.1. H.R. 1 was subsequently defeated in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said today that he would agree to $38 billion in cuts from the 2010 level, exceeding the level of cuts that the GOP asked for in its original proposal:
With the Democrats having moved so far, it’s clear that this “negotiation” is not about the budget at all, but about the various policy riders that House Republicans want to attach to a funding bill. These include provisions preventing the District of Columbia from using its own local funds for abortions and crippling the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. It’s also worth remembering that even the original GOP proposal — which included cuts that are not as steep as those now on the table — included budget cuts that would undermine the economy, decreasing key investments and causing significant job loss.
Read more in today’s Progress Report, “Shutdown Fever.”