Every time the Republicans get deficit fever, our allegedly Democratic legislators fall back into the fetal position, muttering, "Please don't hurt me!" Oddly enough, this fever occurs only when there's a Democrat in the White House!
"It's time to start paying for things," said Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pa.), a freshman who voted for last year's economic stimulus bill but said she is likely to oppose the next spending package, scheduled to hit the House floor Tuesday. "We've done some good things, but one of the best things we could do right now is get control of our fiscal house."
With the national debt at its highest level in nearly 60 years, the question of whether to cut spending -- and if so, how -- is pitting liberals against conservatives, and Congress against the president. The White House has proposed a three-year freeze in programs unrelated to national security and warned House leaders Friday that it may go farther, targeting the Defense Department for cuts. Meanwhile, House leaders unable to agree on a long-term budget blueprint are considering other ways to signal fiscal toughness, including a one-year budget plan that would cut 2011 spending even more deeply than Obama's freeze.
"We're going to adopt that and may go farther," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the House leadership.
This is so stupid as to defy belief. Instead of reassuring voters that, you know, several Nobel Prize-winning economists say we need to increase spending that stimulates the economy, our Fearless Democrats are falling right in line with the Tea Party's economic disinformation.
Still, House leaders view the spending package scheduled to reach the floor Tuesday as must-pass legislation, saying it would shore up support among key constituencies heading into the November elections. In addition to renewing a laundry list of popular tax credits and deductions, the measure would extend unemployment benefits through the rest of this year and set aside $24 billion to help states close huge budget gaps without layoffs or new taxes. The package would also direct nearly $6 billion to finance summer jobs and settle discrimination lawsuits against the Agriculture Department -- both are top priorities among black lawmakers.
Congressional budget analysts have yet to calculate the price of the package, but senior Democratic aides said it could approach $200 billion, most of it unpaid for by new revenues. Among the big-ticket items is a proposal to postpone until 2014 a scheduled pay cut for doctors who see Medicare patients. While many members favor the delay, its $65 billion cost is causing heartburn in both parties.
Many Democrats also are scrutinizing emergency spending on the economy. Dahlkemper, facing a well-funded Republican car dealer in the blue-collar district she seized from the GOP in 2008, said businesses back home complain that they want to start hiring but are getting few applicants because Congress has repeatedly extended unemployment benefits.
"Now, whether that's true or not, I'm still trying to decipher," she said. "But I think it's something we really need to look at."
Yeah, because as long as they're collecting benefits, they're not willing to accept crap part-time jobs at minimum wage with no benefits. And we can't make it too difficult for businesses that want to take advantage of desperate people, can we?
Watch our brave Democrats run against the very things they've accomplished...