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The Tea Party Patriots and the Budget

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The Tea Party Patriots are hosting a virtual summit on the budget negotiations tomorrow. Tune in via the web if you cannot join them on the Mall.

The budget negotiations appear headed for a disaster, but it is too early to say and trusting press reports is a sure way to get it wrong. But since the $61 billion in cuts proposed by the House was itself a weak opening bid, give-backs from that number will greatly disappoint the grass roots. If the Speaker brings in all of the “big four” riders–complete defunding of Planned Parenthood and CPB and riders stopping the rollout of Obamacare and EPA carbon regs– he will be able to explain the “compromise,” but anything less will set off a debilitating chain reaction of grassroots disappointment and leadership defensiveness.

The new GOP majority was not sent to water down weak tea, but the old appropriators seem still to be in the saddle and more eager to protect their own authority than the mandate given in November. If the GOP runs from this fight, it will be hard to imagine them doing anything but running in the future.

My interviews today with Senator Jon Kyl and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann illustrate the evolving fissure in the GOP, with Senator Kyl sounding an appeal for patience and Congresswoman Bachmann taking a position on the budget that is almost certainly beyond the ability of the Speaker to deliver, even after a long shutdown. (The transcripts of both conversations are here.)

Chuck Schumer gave the GOP a gift yesterday, but incredibly the House Republicans chose today to resume negotiations, with Chairman Rogers stepping on the story that would have defined with great clarity the bad faith of the Democrats.

It is hard to imagine the Republicans fighting successfully for genuine entitlement reform if they get blown out in round one. The Speaker has a veto on any proposed “deal” –an absolute, complete veto. Here’s hoping he uses it to get not just a good deal for the rest of 2011, but confirmation that the Beltway GOP understands what the nation voted for in November.


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