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December 13, 2007
Bush Bests Dems Again in Budget Battle
Perhaps we should begin to question just which party is in the majority in Congress.
All of a sudden it seems, the Republicans appear to have found themselves and, along with a newly energized President Bush, have pushed the Democrats to the wall time and again on spending and are finding that rather than fight, the majority party is surrendering:
House Democratic leaders yesterday agreed to meet President Bush's bottom-line spending limit on a sprawling, half-trillion-dollar domestic spending bill, dropping their demands for as much as $22 billion in additional spending but vowing to shift funds from the president's priorities to theirs. The Senate will have little trouble agreeing to a spending measure for the war since Senator Harry Reid has virtually thrown in the towel of opposition thanks to the dramatically improved conditions in Iraq.
The final legislation, still under negotiation, will be shorn of funding for the war in Iraq when it reaches the House floor, possibly on Friday. But Democratic leadership aides concede that the Senate will probably add those funds.
A proposal to strip the bill of spending provisions for lawmakers' home districts was shelved after a bipartisan revolt, but Democrats say the number and size of those earmarks will be scaled back.
When defense spending is added to the total, discretionary spending for fiscal 2008 would reach a tentative total of $936.5 billion, $3.7 billion more than the president's request, said House Appropriations Committee staff members. All of the additional money would be spent on veterans affairs.
The agreement signaled that congressional Democrats are ready to give in to many of the White House's demands as they try to finish the session before they break for Christmas -- a political victory for the president, who has refused to compromise on the spending measures.
One need only think back to the summer when the President and Republicans seemed to be on the ropes. But they have made a nice comeback in the fall to the point that the American people are taking notice. The President's approval number has climbed to 37%, a sign that a measure of confidence might have been restored by the public in the administration.
Liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias sums up the mood of Democrats:
The whole thing actually gets more depressing in the details. But to make a long story short, a combination of Senate filibusters, White House veto threats, and Democratic unwillingness to push the envelop of confrontation, has the Republican minority getting its way on overall domestic spending levels, on war funding, on AMT offsets, and basically on everything else. Expect some backlash by the left as they harshly criticize their members of Congress for caving in to GOP demands on spending.