With the government heading full force into a "shutdown" as this week comes to an end, Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) says that the Senate Democrats have essentially come to terms with yet another temporary extension of last year's budget.
Over a week after the House passed a budget bill that slashes $61 billion over the course of the remaining fiscal year (until October).
Senate Democrats, who control the upper chamber, were quick to call the bill DOA (Dead on Arrival), arguing that the cuts were too deep in a time of great economic unease.
While it should be said that $61 billion is a good starting point, it is no where near the level of cuts we should be talking about. Yet the Democrats predictably think the measly $61 billion is too much.
The controversy around the House GOP bill is not whether or not the cuts are too drastic or not enough, (most freshman GOP members campaigned on $100 billion in cuts) but rather the fact that with Senate Dems claiming the bill's death, a government shutdown would be forced to happen.
Much like in 1995 when the Republican controlled Congress shut the government down over the refusal of then President Clinton to sign drastic cuts into law, Senate Democrats are holding the will of the people hostage.
In 1995 though, the Republicans were the ones left black and blue. Then, the shutdown was viewed by the American public as poor leadership, and ultimately cost the Republicans seats in Congress and what up until then looked to be a decent shot at taking back the White House.
It is clear that in 2011, Senate Democrats (and Dems inside the beltway in general) believe that the American people would respond the same way to a government shutdown.
They are gambling that by not passing their own version of a budget with the necessary cuts in government spending, the American public will blame the Republicans for the stalemate, leading to the Democrats reclaiming power, and yet another Democratic president winning re-election in 2012.
This is why it is imperative for the Republican Party to win the public relations battle this time around.
First and foremost, the message should be clear. Unlike 1995, the Congress is split.While the House is controlled by Republicans, the Senate is controlled by the Democrats.
So at very worst, the Republicans should be sharing the blame.
The other "upper hand" so-to-speak the Republicans carry this time around is that the House leadership has worked hard to do what the American public sent them to do in November, and that is reduce the growing government.
They need to remind the American people that they did what was asked of them. $61 billion, while not monumentally course altering, it is a fantastic start to real government constriction.
The bill eliminates waste, fraud and abuse, and does so without touching the entitlements (something for another blog post altogether).
What do the Democrats have to stand on as far as this PR battle is concerned? Telling the American public that government is not that big, and that we don't need cuts, despite the fact that the nation voted on that ideology? Good luck with that.
Regardless of how helpless the Democrats will be in this PR battle, it is all the more reason for Republicans to be firmly on the offensive.
While I believe a government shutdown should be avoided at all costs, and the current stop gap measure that looks to be going through (funding the government through March 31) will manage to cut $4 billion in that time, Republicans still have to fight to get a bill from the Senate that drastically reduces government spending.
In doing so, they need to convince the general public that is they who have heeded the call to constrict what seems to be an ever-growing government, and it is the Democrats who are standing in the way of the American public's will.
Leaders don't drive the government into the ditch, the leaders on the Republican-controlled Southern side of the Capitol complex have done their part, it's time for the stuffy, old, upper house to do its job and lead.