As D-Day approaches on Friday and there is no sign of leadership from the President and no hint of any Democrats coming to their senses, the generally useless Republican House Leadership finds itself with nowhere to go on the budget, caught between the rock of grassroots determination and the hard place of Democrat obstructionism. With nowhere else to go, they may actually do what their supporters are demanding and shut the federal government down.
In the face of this development, all the talk is about who will get the blame. Democrats dearly want Republicans to look like the aggressors, demanding unreasonable cuts and shutting down the government on which we all depend for day to day survival. The problem is that this argument – which dovetails so well with their political ideology – has no connection with reality and assumes that the people are still as stupid and uninformed as they were when they elected Barack Obama. The facts do not support their argument at all.
First off, the argument is over a compromise set of tax cuts where Republicans have come down again and again from their starting position. Even though they are in the majority in the house which originates budgets, they have already compromised more than their constituents ever wanted, and yet Democrats are demanding virtually no cuts at all and unwilling to make any realistic concessions. Contrary to anything you may hear, the Republicans have already compromised and probably far too much, and it is the Democrats whose refusal to participate will lead to a shut-down of the government.
Second, the entire budget crisis originates with the Democrats. Apparently many people don't realize that the budget we are arguing over is not the pending 2011 budget. It's actually the 2010 budget which should have been passed last year, but which Democrats – who were then in the majority in both houses – made no effort to complete and get passed in a timely manner. We would not have a budget crisis now if the Democrats had passed this budget when it was current. Because of their irresponsibility we've been operating on continuing resolutions for more than half a year.
Third, the dreaded government shut-down is hardly the crisis it is being presented as. Take a moment to think about exactly what services the federal government provides to you directly that you could not live without, or could not afford to do without for a few weeks or even months. If there are some, consider whether they could be provided more efficiently by your state or local government or even by a private service. The truth is that most essential services are already provided by state and local government and most of the things the federal government spends money on are not high urgency or indispensable. The exception is salaries for federal employees and especially for the military, which would be much less of an issue if we were not so ridiculously overextended with three unnecessary foreign wars.