off the charts
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The Road to a Possible Government Shutdown: Who’s Not Willing to Compromise?
I noted recently how far the goal posts have moved in the debate over fiscal year 2011 discretionary appropriations. Given the pronounced movement toward ever larger cuts — including media reports this morning that the White House has offered another $23 billion in cuts below those already enacted — it’s hard to understand why anyone would take seriously charges that Democrats have not moved on discretionary spending or are refusing to negotiate. The charge that the impasse is Senate Democrats’ fault, because they have not passed a full-year 2011 appropriations bill, also rings hollow as explained below. Let’s look at where we are now and how we got there. Under the continuing resolution that expires April 8, discretionary funding is already $35 billion below the 2010 level, adjusted for inflation, and $51 billion below the level in the President’s 2011 budget. Cutting another $23 billion would produce an overall discretionary funding level that is:
- roughly three-fourths of the way from the level the President proposed in his 2011 budget to the level in H.R. 1 — the full-year appropriation bill that the House passed on February, which would cut discretionary funds by $102 billion below the President’s level, and that (as our analysis shows) would slash funds for programs from Head Start to college Pell Grants to ensuring safe drinking water;
- $53 billion below the level proposed last year by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), which Senate Republicans unanimously supported last year (but which they now have walked away from, saying it doesn’t cut funding enough); and
- almost exactly at the level that House Republican leaders themselves made on February 3, before Tea Party-affiliated members pushed Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Budget Chairman Paul Ryan to a more extreme position.
Receive the latest news and reports from the Center