Harry Reid continues to lambast Republicans for their proposed budget cuts, using the Tea Party to drive a wedge between elements of the GOP, and as an excuse to lay blame for his war over how best to not cut spending:
… Tea Party Republicans refuse to recognize that their budget is a simply appalling proposal. They stomp their feet and call ‘compromise’ a dirty word, and insist on a budget that will hurt America rather than help it.1
The Tea Party stands in the way of the GOP acceding to a pitiful $33 billion in cuts for the remainder of the fiscal year. Reid and President Obama are working hard to bully Republicans into a compromise that rules out any spending reductions of substance, while advocating plans for a follow-up stimulus.
The president and his Senate leader want to have it both ways, promoting an uneasy mix of minimalist, media-ready spending cuts while planning to launch an education and infrastructure package when the time is ripe. Mr. Obama is far from shy about revealing where he stands on spending the gains of cutting, however slight, and has not been able to resist sneaking his “Winning the Future” agenda into statements about slashing the budget:
From the outset, my goal has been to significantly cut our domestic spending but, at the same time, make sure we’re making key investments in things like education, infrastructure, innovation — the things that are going to help us win the future.2
Reid is also pushing for a package of spending priorities, a laundry list for the 112th Congress that includes clean energy investment, education spending, infrastructure spending, Obamacare, homeowner assistance, immigration reform, and the DREAM Act.3 The majority leader accuses the GOP of planning to hurt seniors, the disabled, Social Security, women, families, veterans, students and practically anyone else who benefits from entitlement and special program spending.4 Democrats have taken cuts that might impact the disadvantaged off the table, while pointing the finger of blame at Republicans for attempting to stall the recovery.
The budget crisis is not the sole province of Democrats or Republicans, though Democrats have done more than their share of binging since Barack Obama took office. We arrived at the sorry place in which we find ourselves because both parties have agreed for years to fight over which agenda to cut, instead of coming to terms with the reality that we have no choice but to cut.
The president charges that the stalemate is all about politics:
The only question is whether politics or ideology are going to get in the way of preventing a government shutdown.5
Mr. Obama is correct, but very few things happen on Capitol Hill that are not about politics and ideology. The Tea Party is the fiscal conscience sorely lacking in our lawmakers, and its influence has upset the comfortable budget-making ritual that guarantees our fiscal situation will continue to deteriorate. This is the voice the country needs to force the issue and get our fiscal house in order.