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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Budgetary brinksmanship

If anyone thought things would change in Washington with a change in House "leadership," the political brinkmanship of the Republican brass should set those thoughts straight.

Note the timing: The House votes to approve $61 billion in spending cuts in the current fiscal year as a stick in upcoming negotiations on raising the debt ceiling. Then, after voting in the wee small hours of Saturday, then leave Washington for a week's vacation, handing Senate Democrats a calendar problem as well as a budgetary one.

Locally, the political gamesmanship is best represented by the fact that junior Sen. Scott Brown is now fully into his book tour as the clock ticks on the looming March 4 deadline to extend budget authorizations or face a government shutdown.

Republicans have long campaigned better than they have governed, and the tactics on display in Congress and in Wisconsin confirm that reality. But is the GOP overplaying its hand as they accused Barack Obama of doing with the passage of health care legislation?

The New York Times takes a good look at that question today. Only the Times and the rest of the mainstream media needs to take a look at how we got here (gee, did extending the Bush tax cuts increase the deficit?) and how the $61 billion package is a potpourri of Republican red meat issues that will have little long-term budgetary impact other than harming Democratic priorities.

And they should also be asking if this is so important why is Congress slinking out of town on book tours and vacations after only a few weeks on the job when they should be working to resolve a crisis of their own making.

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