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Hope for the House

Friday, March 25, 2011  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Here’s a Washington Post piece by Paul Kane that spins the Democratic line on the budget battle over the balance of FY 2010 spending: “The budget proposal the House Republican majority approved this year included a number of unrelated amendments – riders, in Congress-speak – that would impose restrictions on federal agencies.”

In fact such riders are part of every appropriations bill, and most of those passed by the new majority deal directly with spending, such as the riders that would defund Planned Parenthood and CPB, which are two of the four “must haves” for the GOP, the other two being riders that bar new Obamacare regs and new EPA regs imposing carbon emission regs. (These two indirectly save money, and given the ruinous impact on the economy of both regulatory pushes, hundreds of billions of dollars.)

If the House GOP blinks and fails to get these four riders along with most of the paltry $60 billion in cuts it passed, it will be a loss for the House leadership and a deeply divisive event for the Republican caucus. Getting two of four and $30 billion would be “compromise” of the sort likely to deeply disillusion the conservative base and Tea Party activists, and anything less than that would be a complete fold, a rout, a retreat which won’t be explainable by any length of talking points.

The good news is that the freshmen are showing signs of insisting that the Speaker and his team go to the mat on these items, and explain that any government shutdown that would follow an impasse is the result of Democratic insistence on special interest pork and job-killing regulatory zeal. This is great ground on which to fight, as freshman appropriator Tom Graves of Georgia made clear on Thursday’s program. (The transcript is here.)

Graves is one of the new breed of appropriators, dedicated to slashing spending and insisting on using the budget process to cut back government not abet its growth. Graves voted against the last three week CR, and he said the numbers are growing rapidly on the side of a showdown.

It may be that the Speaker and Majority Leader Cantor have been planning to go to the wall all along, and needed the time for old guard to realize there was no getting around that fact. With a focus on the big four riders, the stage is set for the next two weeks of negotiations, and if Democrats want to try and persuade the country that in these times we should be spending hundreds of millions on publicly funded abortions and morning radio for commuting lefties, much less on more health care bureaucrats and global warming schemes, let them try.

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