Time magazine is reporting that a secret GOP plan is in the works to avert a government shutdown. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are drafting a plan that includes $4 billion in cuts and would fund the government for two weeks that could go to the House Rules Committee this Monday, and could pass the House by Wednesday. Right now, if no deal is reached, the government will shut down after the current funding, which runs through Friday, March 4, expires. Both sides agree that more time is needed for negotiations, and this would provide two more weeks.
Last Saturday, the House passed a bill that cuts spending by $61 billion and keeps the government funded through the end of the fiscal year, but that bill will probably not pass the Democratic Senate. A House GOP aide told Time: “Senator Reid's position that they will force a government shutdown rather than cut one penny in spending is indefensible—and it will be very hard for them to oppose a reasonable short-term funding measure that will cut spending," such as the one Boehner and McConnell are drafting. [Check out a roundup of cartoons on the budget and deficit.]
The Democrats must be pulling out the kneepads, getting on their knees and praying that there isn’t a shutdown: Democrats hold 23 of 33 Senate seats up in 2012, and you can’t tell me they aren’t horrified at the idea of a government shutdown that could be blamed on them. Here’s the money quote from Time:
Republicans are banking on support from Senate Democrats who have publicly indicated a willingness to cut above and beyond current spending levels. “My Party, honestly, is in denial about how severe the problem is,” Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who is up for reelection this cycle said last month. “They think we can just nibble around the edges.” McCaskill has co-authored legislation with Republican Jeff Sessions to cut deeper than what Obama proposed in January. She is one of nine Democratic senators who have said the cuts on the table in the Senate do not go far enough.
Claire McCaskill gets it. Let’s hope some other Senate Democrats join the GOP in stepping up not only to real spending cuts but more importantly, to entitlement reform. Time to stop nibbling around the edges. [Read more about the deficit and national debt.]