Schumer and Reid’s “Marching Orders” to Demonize Efforts for Responsible Spending Cuts

March 29, 2011

With No Plan to Force Washington to Live Within Its Means, Democrats Dig In With “Extreme” Rhetoric to Mask Tacit Support for a Government Shutdown


After nearly a month of funding the government on stopgap measures, Obama and congressional Democrat leaders are no more interested in avoiding a government shutdown than they were a month ago:


“JOE BIDEN PLAYS WAITING GAME” ON BUDGET: “President Barack Obama said in early March that Vice President Joe Biden would help seal an overdue budget deal with Republicans. Instead of playing a major role in the process, however, Biden has been monitoring the debate from a distance — and waiting for the call to send him in as the closer.” (Matt Negrin, “On Budget, Joe Biden Plays Waiting Game,” Politico, 3/28/2011)


OBAMA’S “ABSENTEEISM” CONTINUES: “When President Barack Obama opened the first meeting of his fiscal commission last April, he promised to be ‘standing with them’ as they produced recommendations for curbing the nation’s escalating debt.

“Republicans and Democrats say they are still waiting…


Obama’s reluctance to join the debate in a sustained way has provoked rising frustration among lawmakers from both parties, who are speaking more forcefully about what they view as his absenteeism on one of the most pressing issues before them.” (Carrie Budoff Brown, “Obama Ducking Deficit Debate,”Politico, 3/14/2011)


The president’s doing nothing, however, is actually a conscious choice that does do something, especially as a government shutdown draws ever-nearer. Obama’s choice to do nothing signals tacit approval of congressional Democrats’ spending plans, effectively handing Sens. Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer a blank check for more spending. It’s the kind of thinking only made in Washington, D.C.


To date, Reid and Schumer have both opposed responsible efforts to cut spending:


SEN. REID: “After all, you can lose a lot of weight by cutting off your arms and legs. But no doctor would recommend it.” (“Reid on GOP’s Reckless Cuts,” Senate Democratic Conference, 2/10/2011)


MORE REID: SAVE COWBOY POETRY FESTIVALS FROM “MEAN” GOP CUTS. ” ‘The mean-spirited bill, H.R. 1 … eliminates the National Endowment of the Humanities, National Endowment of the Arts,’ said Reid. ‘These programs create jobs. The National Endowment of the Humanities is the reason we have in northern Nevada every January a cowboy poetry festival. Had that program not been around, the tens of thousands of people who come there every year would not exist.'” (Shira Toeplitz, “Reid: Save Federal Funding for the Cowboy Poets!”, Politico,3/8/2011)


SEN. SCHUMER: “They are blindly swinging a meat axe to the budget when they should be using a scalpel. Some of these House Republicans won’t be satisfied with anything less than a shutdown of the government.” (“Senate Democrats React to Republican Budget Proposals and Infighting,” Senate Democratic Conference, 2/10/2011)


But apparently Democrats don’t really think Republicans spending cuts are “extreme”—they just think calling them that scores political points. Just ask Senator Schumer himself:


“After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John Boehner of Ohio, the Speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. ‘I always use the word extreme,’ Mr. Schumer said, ‘That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.’


“A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.” (Jennifer Steinhauer, “On Senate Call, a Glimpse of Marching Orders,” The New York Times, 3/29/2011)


By refusing to find common ground with Republicans on cutting spending, Obama and congressional Democrats are turning the nation’s fiscal crisis into a political game—which may have been their intention all along:


FORMER DNC HEAD: DEMS SHOULD “ROOT” FOR A SHUTDOWN. “Speaking at the National Journal Insiders Conference on March 29, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said that a government shutdown would be bad for the country but good for Democrats.


“Howard Dean, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, sees an upside to a looming government shutdown – at least politically.


” ‘If I was head of DNC, I would be quietly rooting for it,’ said Dean, speaking on a National Journal Insider’s Conference panel Tuesday morning. ‘I know who’s going to get blamed – we’ve been down this road before.'” (Alex Roarty, “Howard Dean: Democrats Should Be ‘Quietly Rooting’ For Shutdown,” National Journal, 3/29/2011)


DEMOCRATS “PREPARE TO PROFIT FROM SHUTDOWN”: [T]he administration and Reid may find a limited audience for a plan that looks like a political stunt designed to force a government shutdown and place the blame on Republicans.


“Unless President Obama and Reid are willing to expand the playing field on fiscal issues, it seems unlikely that they can avoid a government shutdown or be seen as credible on the deficit.


“The Democrats who have argued that a shutdown would be a political opportunity may have led their party into this war of words without an exit strategy.” (Chris Stirewalt, “Dems Prepare to Profit from Shutdown,” Fox News, 3/29/2011)

Schumer and Reid’s “Marching Orders” to Demonize Efforts for