Budget Wars: The Sequel (UPDATED)

The ongoing budget battle is apparently not one which shall be won in a single, massive assault, but rather in a series of week long skirmishes. (These are known to veteran congressional warfare analysts as Continuing Resolutions.) The first bone of contention comes in the form of the raw number of dollars being spent by Washington, and each side has their own take on it.

The Democrats clearly realize that a majority of Americans are worried about massive federal spending, deficits, and the national debt. Their plan thus far has been to ask the voters not to worry so much. It’s a bold strategy, and one which has served them well in the past. Much like that dog from the movie UP, progressive forces in Congress have traditionally been able to get voters to look away from the squirrel by either dangling a shiny object in front of them -- such as a national health care plan -- or by summoning up a Threat to Everything We Hold Sacred plotted by the evil Republicans.

When it comes to the budget, the bucket of shiny objects has run dry, so it seems we’ll be falling back on Plan Number Two.

For their part, the GOP has been proving a willing foil in this comedy of errors. One of the early thrusts in their attack this year, at least as told by most of the cable news networks, was dire indeed. It seems to have involved having elderly citizens -- my mother, for example -- subsist on a diet of cat food made from radioactive trash fish caught off the coast of Japan, washed down with tap water polluted by strip mining. Normally, of course, this is a plan I could quickly get behind, but there are a couple of things stopping me this year. First, it already costs too much to feed our cats and the increased demand would probably drive the price up further. And second, I still have to sit through dinner with my Mom every Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Sadly, even after the two Capitol Hill tribes noticed America becoming frustrated with the lack of progress and drew close to an agreement on precisely how much spending to cut, they discovered yet another way to accomplish nothing. The Republicans determined that they simply couldn’t take yes for an answer unless the cuts included slashing spending on some “social programs” which included items such as funding for Planned Parenthood, National Public Radio and, I believe, retirement homes for salt marsh tit mice in the wetlands surrounding San Francisco Bay.