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2011 Budget Endgame

Friday, April 1, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt
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My new Townhall.com column asks whether John Boehner will end up a rock or rolled when the smoke around the budget negotiations clear. The Speaker knows the stakes and he has been rejecting all of the efforts by Democrats and MSM (and perhaps his own party’s big spenders) to argue the deal is done and the fix is in. Moreover there is no reason to believe he doesn’t understand how vital the big four riders are on Obamacre and EPA regs and the complete defunding of Planned Parenthood and CPB.

On Thursday’s show I discussed the end game on the 2011 budget with Mark Steyn. The transcript is here and the key exchange on the budget negotiation comes here:

HH: Let me play a what if with you, Mark Steyn. I have been indicating, if they stopped Obamacare by putting a freeze on the regs, if they stopped the EPA carbon by getting a rider, if they defunded CPB and they defunded Planned Parenthood, okay, then I could live with $45 billion in cuts. I could say okay, you had to give up something. But I don’t think they’re going to get anything. Is there a mix in there that you would be satisfied was a tactically decent answer as they postpone the big fight to 2012?

MS: Yeah, I think that’s the good way to look at it, that if your argument is that 2012 is the big battle, then what you need to do now is lay out some markers that make claim to principles for 2012.

HH: Exactly.

MS: For example, your EPA suggestion is a good one, because one of the things the Republicans ought to be fundamentally committed to is the restoration of responsible government in this republic, where laws are made by legislators accountable to citizens, which means we roll back regulation, and we constrain agencies who have grown far too used to legislating on their own, regardless of how the legislature votes, or how the voters vote. And so something like that actually lays down, it’s not important, particularly, in terms of the budget for 2011, but it lays down a marker. It says that this is who we are as a party. We believe in responsible government, we believe in a land where the laws are made by legislators accountable to the citizens. And that, things like that are worth doing, and they’re worth compromising on $10 or $15 billion, or whatever here and there, but they’ve got to be talking in those, they’ve got to be framing the debate in those terms. Otherwise, it’s just the usual nickel and dime, Washington deal-making, reach across the aisle-y stuff that everybody loathes. Everybody loathes.

HH: And I do not, correct me if you’ve heard someone talking in those terms. I have yet to hear any Republican leader talk in those terms of markers and principle.

MS: No, and I think that’s because, I think regulation is throttling this country. Regulation is killing this country. Regulation is ensuring that as such economic prosperity survives on this planet will be created elsewhere. And the Republican party ought to be on the side of that. That’s nothing to do with taking social issues off the table, and not wanting to go into any of those awkward subjects that embarrass these sophisticated Beltway types. That is fundamental to retaining America’s competitive advantage in the world. And if Republicans, if even the squishiest, RINO, jelly-spine nothing can’t actually stand up for rolling back the regulatory state, then he is entirely worthless.

I hope Mark’s analysis flies around the email in-boxes on the Hill, but that it is unnecessary for the Speaker to read because he already knows it and intends to fight on that line.

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