Democrats Play Hot Potato on Spending Cuts

March 3, 2011

While Republicans Offer Leadership and Specifics on Deficit Reduction, Dems Delay and Deflect


On Wednesday, President Obama signed into law the House Republicans’ plan to avert a federal government shutdown while responsibly cutting $4 billion in federal spending:


“President Obama signed on Wednesday a measure that slices $4 billion from federal spending and keeps the government running for two more weeks…


“Members of both parties, while still far apart on the philosophy and methods of reducing government spending, signed on to the temporary measure to avoid the stigma of having cast a vote that would have shut down the government.”(“Obama Signs Stopgap GOP Spending Bill to Keep Government Running 2 More Weeks,” Fox News, 3/2/2011)


Despite ultimately voting for the stopgap measure, Senate Democrats have not been constructive partners in working with Republicans for meaningful spending reductions. Instead of providing any meaningful specifics of their own, Senate Democrats are staying mum, with Harry Reid instead claiming they need “somebody from the White House directing this”:


“Contending with sharp internal splits about how far to go in cutting spending and a reluctance to show their hand, Senate Democrats have not made public any specifics on their ideas for cuts, frustrating Republicans who see themselves as making hard, substantive proposals with no corresponding effort in the Senate.” (Carl Hulse, “Obama Signs Two-Week Budget Extension,” The New York Times, 3/2/2011)


Senate Democrats, who have yet to produce a spending bill this year, said they were working on some cuts and would submit their ideas to the White House, which would then produce an offer they would give to House Republicans.


” ‘We need somebody from the White House directing this,’ Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, told reporters.” (Stephen Dinan, “With Government Shutdown Averted, Parties Debate Next Move,” The Washington Times, 3/2/2011)


Observers expecting the White House to show some leadership, though, should think again. Obama’s vague platitudes and general failure of leadership on deficit reduction has drawn criticism even from fellow Democrats and usual allies for his “‘Where’s Waldo’ presidency”:


“At a closed-door session on the budget, nine Democratic senators spent parts of the 30-minute meeting whacking the White House for not being more engaged, according to people who were present.


“The open irritation with the White House comes just as Reid announced support for the Republican-led bill which passed in the House Tuesday and funds the government for another two weeks, while slashing $4 billion. Senate Democrats’ call for Obama to step it up is a precursor to two looming fights: one over a bill to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year, and another on whether to raise the national debt limit.” (Manu Raju, “Democrats: Obama Must Lead on Budget,” Politico, 3/1/2011)


WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST RUTH MARCUS: “For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful…


“Yet the dots connect to form an unsettling portrait of a “Where’s Waldo?” presidency: You frequently have to squint to find the White House amid the larger landscape.” (Ruth Marcus, “Obama’s ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Presidency,” The Washington Post, 3/2/2011)


MORE MARCUS: “They don’t call him the ‘mediator’ of the free world, they call him the ‘leader’ of the free world for a reason.” (Remarks from Ruth Marcus, The Daily Rundown on MSNBC, 3/3/2011)


Meanwhile, after failing to even pass a budget last year and voting in unison against the Republican budget plan, House Democrats couldn’t even agree on how to proceed on the GOP stopgap measure, with Nancy Pelosi and many others in their leadership voting against preventing a government shutdown:


House Democrats will not pass a budget blueprint in 2010, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will confirm in a speech on Tuesday…


“The House has never failed to pass an annual budget resolution since the current budget rules were put into place in 1974.” (Jared Allen, “Dems won’t pass budget in 2010,” The Hill, 6/21/2010)




PELOSI, 84 OTHER DEMS VOTE AGAINST STOPGAP MEASURE: Final Roll Call: 335-91 (Roll Call Vote 154, Clerk of U.S. House)


In fact, Americans believe more spending cuts are necessary and a recent NBC/WSJ poll shows 63 percent of Americans believe Democrats will “not go far enough” in cutting programs and reducing federal spending to deal with the deficit. When will House Democrats stop their buck-passing and offer some of their own ideas on deficit reduction?:


“Q21 Which concerns you more about the current budget debate – that [INSERT ITEM] will (ROTATE) .. go too far or not go far enough … in cutting programs and reducing federal spending to deal with the budget deficit? (RANDOMIZE)




Go Too Far

Not Go Far Enough

(VOL) About right/Right Balance

Not sure

The Democrats in Congress

February 2011





President Obama

February 2011





(“WSJ/NBC News Poll Results, March 2, 2011,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/2/2011)