Democrats Offer $20 Billion Spending Cut Compromise

Which, along with the $10 billion in cuts Republicans have already pushed through, would mean $30 billion total in cuts for the 2011 budget. That’s the halfway point between the $60 billion goal Republicans have been targeting (downgraded from the $100 billion they promised pre-election) and the $0 billion Democrats wanted.

In other words, Obama will have proposed more new spending on high speed rail projects for the next budget than Democrats will have been willing to concede to in spending cuts. But even so, might this be an offer worth taking?

Especially when a balanced budget amendment may be a price tag Democrats will concede to?

The White House and Democratic lawmakers, with less than two weeks left to avoid a government shutdown, are assembling a proposal for roughly $20 billion in additional spending cuts that could soon be offered to Republicans, according to people close to the budget talks. …

House Republicans are preparing a budget resolution for 2012 that would make major spending reductions in entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and give states more flexibility in how they spend federal Medicaid money.

Separately, Senate GOP leaders are urging all 47 Republicans in the chamber to sign on to a proposed constitutional amendment to balance the budget and demand a vote on it.

However much in spending cuts Republicans may be able to pry out of Democrats, one point is clear: Our national fiscal problems are not going to be solved with this budget alone.

The question is, can Republicans cut this compromise and leave themselves in a strong enough position to move on to the debate over entitlement reforms and other more serious fiscal cuts? That’s really what this is about. An exit strategy that allows Republicans to get out of the debate over the 2011 budget with enough political capital intact to continue the push for spending cuts in future budget battles.

If Republicans throw this offer back in the face of Democrats, we’ll likely end up with a government shut down with the sympathetic liberal media flooding the zone with stories about all the suffering that shut down is causing. Which, in turn, could very well sour the public at large on push for spending cuts.

We all know what needs to be done. Cut, cut, cut. But in order to make those cuts, Republicans need to chart a safe course through some dangerous political waters.

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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