The Continuing Resolution – A Continuing Problem for Republicans
by Rudy Cajka on February 26, 2011 at 4:52 PM
Will House Republicans Stand Firm?
During the last days of the lame duck session of Congress in 2010, the House and Senate passed a compromise Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government on a temporary basis. The CR was necessary because Senate and House Democrats shirked their responsibility to pass a budget, and so were forced into submitting a CR to keep the government running. The CR was limited to run until March 4, at which time a new CR or other funding mechanism was needed to keep the government running.
One would think that at the start of the new Congress in 2011, both the House and Senate would have been busy attempting to develop a responsible funding package to keep the government running for the remainder of the fiscal year past the March 4 deadline. The Republican controlled House, after some initial stumbles, has diligently worked to pass a new CR that reduces government spending by approximately $60 Billion for the remainder of the year. The Democrat controlled Senate has done absolutely nothing about this problem, preferring to spend most of their time on recess (vacation) and the remainder of their time debating a new aviation bill. After the Republicans spent a final week working a number of almost all night sessions on the CR, they completed their work last week and sent the CR bill to the Senate. Incredibly, the Senate promptly took another week of vacation and has done nothing to date on this looming budget deadline.
Now, we hear that Harry Reid and his band of Democrats want to extend the current CR for another month beyond March 4 with no changes to its massive spending schedule. They say there is now not enough time to negotiate a fair CR with the House. Of course there isn’t any time – they have wasted most of their time this past week on vacation instead of remaining at work and negotiating!
What we are hearing from John Boeher is an immediate agreement that there should be a short-term extension of the current CR. Republicans are willing to split the difference and offer a two week extension and added a statement about cutting $4 billion out of the extended amount. It’s too bad Republicans are so willing to negotiate away many of the cards that they hold.
The Budget Numbers That Must be Understood
The current spending plan for fiscal year 2010 was in the neighborhood of $3.5 Trillion with an expected deficit of $1.3 Trillion. The actual deficit will be more like $1.5 Trillion. Let’s see how these numbers relate to the paltry budget cuts proposed by the Republicans and the effect of Boehner’s compromises:
- Total Federal Gov’t Spending for 2010 - $3.5 Trillion
- Total Federal Gov’t Deficit for 2010 - $1.5 Trillion
- 2010 Deficit as a % of Total Spending - 42.9%
- Daily Federal Gov’t Deficit for 2010 - $4.11 Billion per day
Now let’s look at the Republican Plan in somewhat more detail:
- Republican’s CR Cut for the Remainder of the Year - $60 Billion
- Number of Day’s Remaining for the new CR (March 4 to Sept 30) -210
- Deficit Reduction per Day in the Republican Plan - $285 Million
- Deficit Reduction per Day in the 2 week Extended CR Proposal -$285 Million
- Total Federal Gov’t Spending per Day with the Current CR - $9.589 Billion
- Total Federal Gov’t Spending per Day with the Republican CR -$9.303 Billion
- % of Overall Deficit Reduction in Republican Plan from current CR - 6.9%
So, two points can be made from the above numbers:
- The Republican plan for the new CR contains a very small reduction amounting to only 6.9% of the overall government deficit.
- The Boehner compromise for the two week extension is a fair offer based on the Republican plan for the new CR.
The Effect of A Government Shutdown
The reports that I am hearing is that the Republicans are terrified of a government shutdown as a result of their House passed CR bill. They believe that the American people cannot live with a government shutdown and will blame them. To me, it is extremely unwise for the Republican leadership to be telegraphing this level of weakness. All it does is play into the hands of the Democrats and their stooges in the liberal media.
The fact is that all of this talk of a government shutdown is scare talk ginned up by the Democrats and the liberal media. In fact, a government shutdown will not have that much of an effect on most people’s lives. Here is what will not be affected by a government shutdown:
- Social Security recipients will continue to get their benefits.
- Federal Courts will continue to function normally
- The national security apparatus will continue to function normally
- All law enforcement deemed necessary will continue to operate
- Most government employees will continue to report for work
The fact is that the president can determine which government services are critical and those services will continue to be available. Certainly, a government shutdown will inconvenience some citizens, such as the inability to obtain a passport or to apply for Social Security benefits. But a government shutdown will not be the Armageddon that will be described in the liberal media and by left wing politicians and pundits.
Republicans Must Stand Firm
I hope and expect that John Boehner and the Republican Leadership team in the House stands firm on the short-term extension. It will be extremely disappointing if the House Republicans cave in to Harry Reid and his Senate Democrats. These Republicans should understand that they hold all the cards and are in a terrific negotiating position. I hope Republicans do not give away their negotiating points in public and stop saying they don’t want a government shutdown. Republicans should focus on explaining the budget numbers to the American People and emphasizing the dire consequences to the United States if they do not hold firm.
House Republicans will have a major problem in 2012 if they screw up this negotiation. They need to stand firm and accept a government shutdown if that is what it takes to get their budget cuts into the new CR. I expect that if they do stand firm, that Obama will back down, as recent events in the Middle East have shown what a spineless leader he has really turned out to be.