Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Obey raises stakes on budget bill

By Libby

Well this is a refreshing change. It appears that at least one Democrat, David Obey has learned how to play the game. After "a stern veto threat this weekend from the White House" his attitude is "to hell with it."
A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president's spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers' pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration's top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Obey said he is prepared for a long standoff with the White House."
"If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they're smoking something illegal," he said.
Looking at possible cuts, Obey suggests "[o]ne possibility would be funding for abstinence education." Meanwhile, the White House isn't moved. Spokesman Tony Fratto said. "Different day, different Democrat, different direction. Our position hasn't changed." You can urge Obey to call the White House bluff and thank him here.

The news is not so good on the Senate side though. In fact, the response is distinctly dismal.
Sensing that Democrats are in a compromising mode, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pitching a budget amendment that Democrats would have laughed off just a few weeks ago.

McConnell on Tuesday called for $70 billion for Iraq with no strings attached, an across the board cut of around 1 percent for domestic appropriations bills and the promise that lawmakers can keep all their earmarks.

"That is a way to end this session in a fiscally responsible way," McConnell said.
Yeah, that line raised a hearty laugh with me too. But Reid is noncommittal.
"At this stage I'm not there yet," Reid said. "We are waiting to see what the House sends us."

Senate Republican and Democratic aides say Democrats may have one more counter offer in them _ a $5 billion increase in domestic spending, which amounts to less than 1 percent of total discretionary spending. That's a long way from the $22 billion increase originally proposed by Democrats.
The Senators are also not on board with stripping out earmarks.
"We're not going to let them do a punitive thing like that," said Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.). "Earmarks are justified and legitimate ... but they do need to pass the smell test. I wouldn't give up my earmarks."
Oh my. It's a laugh a minute in that chamber. One might think they've totally lost their sense of smell. Sadly, unless we let Harry know in no uncertain terms that this sort of 'compromise' is not in any way acceptable, he's more than likely to go for it. You know what to do.

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