George C. Scott was one of America’s foremost stage and screen actors. His memorable portrayal of Gen. George S. Patton won him an Academy Award. Patton was as profane as he was professional, as feared by the enemy as he was famous on the home front. In one of Scott’s most memorable scenes in the film, with the war won in Europe, he goes over the top arguing in favor of war with the Soviet Union — then still an ally of the United States.
“In ten days I’ll have a war,” he says, “and I’ll make it look like their fault.”
It’s the perfect cinematic metaphor for the budget negotiations currently underway in Washington. With a lot of help from a compliant, even complicit national media, the Democrats are maneuvering their way towards a government shutdown — all the while making it look like it’s the Republicans’ fault.
The last Congress, overwhelmingly Democrat-controlled in both houses, failed to pass an actual budget resolution — let alone the various authorization and appropriations bills necessary to fund the federal government for the current fiscal year. Instead, to keep the government running, they have been forced to rely on a series of short-term measures known as “continuing resolutions.”
The process continued when the Republicans took control of the House — despite the fact that one of the first things the new GOP majority did was to pass a yearlong CR that cut federal spending by a significant amount, in keeping with the conviction among new members that the voters sent them to Washington to do exactly that.
The Senate, still controlled by the Democrats, has thus far failed to take up the year-long funding measure, leaving the two chambers engaged in a battle of wills. The House Republicans have put real cuts on the table. The Democrats in the upper chamber, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, can’t seem to find a thing worth cutting.
It may be, as was first reported by ABC News on Wednesday evening, that the logjam has finally broken, and a framework for a final CR is finally coming together. But that may only be because the Democrats have been caught in the embarrassing position of talking political strategy on a media conference call.