Senate Dems Try To Help Republicans Find Even More Cuts In Budget

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Imagine that. The Democratic tactic of giving their lunch, their snacks and their spending money to the school bullies just isn't working. What oh what are they to do?

How about -- oh, I don't know -- growing a spine?

WASHINGTON - Democratic leadership and Appropriations Committee staffers are meeting Thursday afternoon to find ways to cut social spending from the remainder of the fiscal year 2011 budget, a Senate Democratic aide told HuffPost. The object of the gathering is to identify cuts that will satisfy House Republicans' demands for drastic spending reductions despite the flagging economy.

Multiple leadership aides, however, said that the cuts will be made to a long-term budget resolution, rather than a short-term spending bill, as Republicans insist. That the two parties are now arguing merely over how quickly to make cuts indicates that their positions may be drawing close enough to avoid a government shutdown - without the GOP giving much up yet.

Big surprise there, right?

"It sounds like Senate Democrats are making progress towards our goal of cutting government spending to help the private sector create jobs," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "Hopefully, that means they will support the short-term CR with spending cuts that we will pass next week, rather than shutting down the government."

Boehner is traveling on a fundraising tour.

House Republicans have proposed a measure that would keep the government funded for two more weeks past the March 4th deadline -- when money runs out--asking for $4 billion in cuts. Democrats have not budged in insisting any stopgap be drawn along the lines of current funding levels.

The compromise offered to the GOP on Thursday would not change that. "This is not about a short-term CR," said a leadership aide. "We are planning to make a serious offer to the House Republicans on a long-term CR that contains deeper cuts than were originally proposed. And if the Republicans will meet us in the middle of this offer we might be able to avert the need for a short-term CR."

Senate Democrats are hoping that by offering the first concession, House GOPers will either respond in kind or take the blame for a shutdown. Yet each Democratic negotiating tactic has led to additional cuts. As the talks drag on, Republicans get closer and closer to their full goal. Meanwhile, the wrangling over a stopgap measure to temporarily avert a shutdown has the capacity to confuse the debate.


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