Friday, April 8, 2011

Three Hours Remain for Congress to Settle Budget Differences

Despite the glaring obviousness of the headline, there seems to be renewed energy that a deal will be struck before the stroke of midnight, as though that specific time would matter.

Knowing how this entire fiasco of a pubic relations event has thus far unfolded, one could assume that the squabbling and posturing (because that's all it is) will continue until after midnight before any kind of resolution can be found. Word has it that another in a series of continuing resolutions could keep negotiations ongoing over the weekend and keep the government from an "official" shutdown.

The alternative view is that the House Republicans will be seen as villains for slamming the doors over a paltry $350 million earmarked for Planned Parenthood, and, despite the innuendo, none of which money would be used for abortions.

A complete canard is what this Republican gambit is, in reality. It has nothing to do with cutting spending and is only a ploy with a dual intent, to have the government shut down and to make Democrats look bad in so doing. Thus far, it's a huge failure for the party of Lincoln.

If an agreement is to come about before the midnight deadline, it certainly will not be substantive, and it certainly will not address any of the real concerns foremost on the minds of most Americans. Taking the hubris further, expect, if no agreement is reached, for an extended period of unease and disruption, which is probably what at least one of the parties would like.

Another possible development is that in the case of a shutdown, and a prolonged one, watch for arguments to emerge based upon permanently cutting some of the 800,000 federal workers who would be furloughed without pay. By making some of the cuts permanent, the government could save billions. For instance, cutting the government workforce by 200,000 (one quarter of those being forced to stay home) could save $15 billion, using a figure of $75,000 as the average annual pay. Might be a good start.

If they're going to do anything, and I've held that neither side actually wants to pass this particular budget, they'd better get a move on. Just getting everyone back to the assembly when they're all out playing cards or having cocktails will take an hour or more alone.

This is political theater at its very worst. Two little schoolgirls could put on a better drama in their living room. The sad part is that it's only going to get worse from here. This congress is completely off the rails and out of touch with the American people. Shutting down government would be a good start if only we could begin by sending the congress critters home first.

Of course, this would soon shift these

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