If you thought Congress’ approval ratings were low, get ready to see them even lower. And Republicans: if you felt Republican House members’ ratings were low get ready to see them lower. I suspect this will produce some quick Democratic Party campaign ads: Republicans in the House are ready to break the hard-fought budget deal:
Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives are ready to break a hard-fought budget deal with Democrats as they try to quell a revolt by conservatives who are insisting on deeper spending cuts ahead of the November elections.
House Republican aides said on Tuesday that House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor were pressing for a modest $19 billion reduction of discretionary spending caps in this year’s Republican budget plan.
The August 2011 deal to end a summer debt limit drama – which nearly prompted a first-ever default on U.S. Treasury debt – called for a $1.047 trillion cap on discretionary spending for fiscal 2013. Conservative House Republicans last week launched an effort to reduce that amount by as much as $116 billion, presenting Boehner a new leadership challenge.
But even the $1.028 trillion compromise figure that Boehner and Cantor were insisting that members in the Republican-controlled House support would cause problems with spending bills later this year, Republican aides said.
And the fact is this: this will be (correctly) blasted by many pundits as a cravenly political act — one that will again cause partisan tensions and gridlock.
Democrats would not support even a small reduction from last year’s carefully crafted agreement, and $19 billion in cuts is not likely to be deep enough to draw the support of the most conservative Republicans, especially those backed by the conservative Tea Party movement.
“I’d say that’s probably not going to be enough for my boss,” said an aide to a congressman involved in the budget negotiations who is a senior member of the conservative Republican Study Committee. The group pressed for a considerably lower cap of $931 billion.
Republican lawmakers pressing for more aggressive deficit reduction now insist that the spending cap in the August deal is a ceiling, not a floor – there is nothing illegal about spending less. Democrats see the cap as part of a binding budget law.
But both Republican and Democratic aides fear an impasse on spending bills that would threaten a potential government shutdown battle just weeks before the November election. The current spending authority expires on Sept. 30.
If this happens look for the Republican’s provoked action to create a further hit to the U.S slowly recovering economy. Will independent voters notice? (I suspect they will..)
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.