-By Warner Todd Huston
On Wednesday afternoon I had a chance to talk to Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R, IL) about the budget and these continuing resolutions (CRs) that the House is laboring to pass and he reminded me of a point that we are not discussing quite enough. The fact is that these CRs have become necessary because the Democrats spent all of last year not proposing and passing a budget at all!
The Democrats fiddled around for the whole of last year never passing a full budget. Now the GOP led House is trying to play catch up with these few sort term CRs so that they can get the full budget written and passed.
“No one wants to vote on short term CRs,” Roskam told me, “but this is where the Senate Democrats must come up with a plan. We’ve done our part and it’s their turn. But they have offered nothing.”
The Democrats are “totally dysfunctional,” Roskam said. They have offered nothing and the president has completely failed to lead the Democrats to propose anything on top of that. “Everyone is frustrated about not having a long term CR but we are going to continue the battle and we are going to cut every week, we are going to follow thru and keep cutting each and very week,” Roskam pledged. So far he and the GOP leadership have lived up to that pledge. They have $10 billion in cuts and this is just the beginning, House Republicans claim.
But frustrated is the word, for sure.
As I said to the congressman, many conservatives and pundits on the right are frustrated with all these short-term budget fixes. They lament that we aren’t passing a full term budget filled with all the cuts of their dreams. They seem to think it is just that easy.
Radio talker Mark Levin, for instance, is one of those loud voices claiming that all you have to do is “have the guts” to just “do it.” Many conservatives have echoed this feeling and I’ve seen some conservatives grumble that the new GOP led House just isn’t really serious about cutting the budget.
I, too, am impatient with the slow pace of cuts. I, too, want it all done right now. However, saying that we want it all done right this second is far easier, indeed, than actually doing it. I disagree with those already throwing up their hands in disgust with Washington’s spending cutting efforts.
Remember that there are still many moderate Republicans that want to go slow on cuts. Remember that the Democrats still have parity power in the Senate. Remember at last that the Democrats also have a president.
Despite how the conservatives are parsing the debate, it simply is NOT as easy to actually make these budget cuts and pass a budget as it is to merely say we want to do it.
But know this, as Roskam told me, “the entire conversation has changed in Washington. No longer are we talking about how to get more money into programs. Now the whole conversation is how much do we save and the House Republicans are driving that discussion.”
One part of the battle for fiscal sanity is running in our favor. It is the most important one, too. That is that the talk has at long last turned to cutting and saving, and not on increasing spending. This is the first time in living memory that Congress has not simply assumed that hikes in spending is the accepted, unspoken norm.
We need to keep calling our congressmen to let them know that we want them to keep cutting and we are support them. We must not just assume it will get done, granted. But on the other hand let us not give up just when the fight is turning in our favor, either.
Our American system was built to go slow, sometimes maddeningly so. It is working and it is working in our favor. Let’s not lose sight of that singular fact.
It is no time to let up, certainly. We can’t just assume it’s all good and ignore Congress. But it’s no time to give up, either.