Holding Firm on the Budget
After letting a highly destructive budget fight fester far too long, the White House finally stepped in late last week to negotiate with the House, which wants to eviscerate nondefense spending. Senate leaders still seem shell-shocked by that breathtaking ruthlessness, and have pleaded with the administration for help in pushing back. The White House needs to do so, and firmly...
this is not a moment for another difference-splitting deal. The House wants to carve $61 billion out of the government for just the next seven months, which would throw hundreds of thousands of people out of work and kill off scores of vital functions. Many of them, like funding for health care reform, environmental regulation and Planned Parenthood, are on the Republicans’ ideological hit list. The latest deadline for an agreement is March 18; without one, the government would close.
Republicans claim they will not agree on a penny less than $61 billion, which is too little for some more aggressive freshmen. If the Democrats try to compromise on even half that amount, they will be still be doing enormous damage to many programs and threatening a recovery that is starting to show signs of real life.
Formal talks began on Thursday, led by Vice President Joseph Biden.