Conservatives and Tea Party folks are mad at House Republicans for not cutting enough. I feel for this ire, to say the least. The fact is that cutting $60 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions that Obama has put us in debt for.
But… yes, there is a “but.”
John Boehner is also right in that the GOP simply does not have the power to make massive all-at-once changes in the budget. As Boehner has said, the GOP only controls one half of one third of the federal government. House Republicans simply do not have the power to compel either the president of the senate to acquiesce to GOP demands.
Whether Tea Partiers and hard-core conservatives like it or not, politics is the art of the possible, not a game of druthers.
Even The Wall Street Journal is noting this political reality.
The fact that Congress is cutting any spending from the $3.6 trillion budget is a big cultural shift in Washington and an important course correction. In 2008, domestic discretionary spending rose by roughly 8%. The budget for federal agencies then expanded another 24% over 2009 and 2010, not including the $270 billion of stimulus funds for these programs. By contrast, the $10 billion in cuts that Republicans have already won for fiscal 2011 will reduce spending by roughly 1%, and 3% if a $33 billion compromise becomes law.
I have interviewed GOP Chief Deputy Whip Peter Roskam (R, ILL) and he reminded me weeks ago that this really is a major shift in political will in Washington. He told me then that no longer is the House of Representatives forging ahead with the assumption that spending and taxes will automatically be raised, but the discussion is in how much cutting will be done. This is a major shift in the culture.
I am not suggesting, though, that now is the time to slack off. Certainly we conservatives need to keep the pressure on. But what I am warning about is people listening to loud-mouths like radio talker Mark Levin who seems to be suggesting that all Republicans are traitors and that we should give up in abject anger. Allowing agitators like Levin to make you so mad that you give up just when we are turning the tide is a fool’s errand.
This is hard work. We have a long way to go and it won’t come easy. We are facing almost 100 years of tax raising and big spending in Congress. That simply won’t change over night.
I have a warning for conservatives: don’t give up like a petulant child and imagine you’ve lost just when we are starting to win.