Conservatives may disagree on whether Republicans are “winning” the debate on spending, but at this point it’s fairly clear that liberals have lost it, and they’re annoyed that President Obama has (once again) left them, and all of their coveted “investments,” out to dry. National Journal reports:
Wherever the final line is drawn, Democrats appear willing to accept a deal close to Republican leaders’ original plan. White House aides say that such a deal could pay political dividends when the bigger fights start because the agreement would establish the president as the most reasonable politician in Washington. Progressives are not happy, however, even if Democrats are able to remove controversial GOP policy riders, such as those that eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood and hamper the implementation of the health care law.
“Progressives could reasonably expect something that was more progressive than the House Republicans’ starting position,” said economic expert Michael Ettlinger of the Center for American Progress.
“There’s no victory here,” concurred Heather McGhee, the Washington director of the progressive think tank Demos. “Technically, not having any policy riders would be a win, but in terms of the pure economic impact of the budget, it is all bad for the recovery.”
White House and Senate leadership aides argue that the composition of the cuts is as important as their size, and say that they will fight to make sure that reductions aren’t borne by the most vulnerable. They also say that the need to gain at least nine Republican votes in the upper chamber to pass anything weakens their advantage. Yet many Democrats maintain that after laying out his 2012 budget, President Obama hasn’t done enough to draw a real contrast with Republicans, relying instead on a more subtle argument about balancing cuts with investment.
UPDATE: The Left may be beaten, but they’re already gearing up for the next fight:
Senate Democrats are discussing plans to introduce tax policy changes that they say would raise federal revenues and broaden the budget debate beyond discretionary spending cuts.
Democrats want to take the offensive and propose higher tax rates for millionaires, companies that move factories overseas and wealthy people who make charitable contributions.
Democratic lawmakers said they will be in a stronger position to offer tax increases after agreeing to between $30 billion and $61 billion in discretionary spending cuts for the rest of 2011.
“We Democrats have demonstrated that we’re willing to make these cuts; we’ve gone over halfway. Are they being so unreasonable to say we can’t raise any revenues?” said the senator.
UPDATE II: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) responds:
After 40 days of stalling on the need to cut spending, Senate Democrats have finally called the only play they know to finance their out-of-control spending: raising taxes on the American people. Not only is this a terrible move in the current economic environment, but it speaks to the Democrat agenda to keep spending money to support big-government programs and overreach on the backs of American taxpayers. The total revenue that currently comes into the federal coffers through individual and corporate taxes is just over a trillion dollars, while America’s expected deficit for this year is $1.6 trillion and our debt is more than $14 trillion. In order to address our debt crisis, Democrats would have to more than double taxes on families and businesses throughout the country. It’s time for Democrats to do what the American people are doing and tighten the belt, not raise taxes. I call upon Leader Reid and Senator Schumer to rule out raising taxes in our current economy.