See how the WSJ Review & Outlook Editors handicap the budget battle. They think that Republicans are winning, and should pocket their gains--presumably before they slip away.
This has accomplished two valuable goals. First, Republicans have succeeded in preventing the stimulus funding in 2009 and 2010 for discretionary programs from becoming a permanent part of the federal baseline of spending, which was a major goal of unions and liberal Democrats. Second, because this budget permanently reduces the spending baseline for all future agency expenditures, over the next decade $33 billion savings will grow to about $400 billion. Now we're talking real money.
The Editors counsel that Republicans cut up Congress's credit card. How, you ask, might the Republicans do that?
This ought to mean reforming the current budget process that Democrats rigged in 1974 to make it easier to raise spending and taxes. The "current services" baseline builds in inflated spending levels each year. The absence of a cap on entitlement spending puts double-digit increases on cruise control. Tax cuts to grow the economy are scored as budget busters. Republicans should insist on a rewrite of the budget process, including annual spending caps enforced by automatic cuts, in return for raising the debt limit.
Meanwhile, readers chime in with a few comments on point of their own about an earlier op-ed piece by Fred Barnes.
Noman's favorite letter is the one that best illustrates Republican's quandary. Should they drink the DC Kool-Aid, and play ball with the Washington press corp and congressional Democrats? Or, should they pay attention to the fed-up voters that sent them there?
Cut spending now. All spending bills originate in the House, and Republicans control the House. So cut spending now. Going only for the little baby cuts which can easily be had, as Mr. Barnes advocates, is the strategy of a loser. Unlike Mr. Barnes, I am not interested in the well-being of the Republican party. Republicans are politicians driven by self-interest and thus no different than Democrats. I am concerned with the financial survival of my country. So Republicans, you had better cut spending now or you will see me in November 2012.
Noman doesn't remember President Obama settling for small gains. Rather, Democrats threw bomb after bomb downfield after Republicans fumbled to them, giving them the opportunity to be avariciously opportunistic. We know that President Obama and Senate Democrats are rattling the government-shutdown saber. Republicans payed dearly for the government "shutdown" (slowdown) of 1995. But, President Clinton had merely tried to socialize medicine. President Obama succeeded, despite overwhelming public opposition. Voters are surly, and scared of the Obama debt and deficits, which are nothing like anything Americans have ever seen. 2011 is not 1995. The fed-up voter/taxpayer/citizen in Noman likes what the crowds are saying about government: "Cut it, or shut it!"