I got some chuckles this week on both radio and television when I said that lawmakers in Congress were in essence throwing spitballs at each other over the budget. But that is about where we are at.
Tuesday featured more finger pointing and blame game from both parties, as they desperately maneuver to pin the blame on each other in case of a government shutdown next week. Uncle Sam technically runs out of cash on April 8.
Even more interesting than the usual back and forth was how one top Democrat got caught handing out verbal advice on how to negatively label their Republican opponents in this budget impasse.
“I always use the word extreme,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) said to fellow Democrats on a conference call, as he urged them to bash GOP leaders and the Tea Party over budget matters.
The humorous part was that Schumer didn’t know reporters were listening in at the time.
Soon enough, the pre-game conference call pep talk was muted, and what followed were a series of statements from Democrats, who dutifully worked in a variation of the word ‘extreme’ when talking about GOP budget cutting plans.
Tough words are nothing new in the political game, as both parties have found through the years that certain words and phrases are a great tool to use against their opponents.
Newt Gingrich sent out a memo in 1996 that listed all kinds of words to use against Democrats, like ‘corrupt’ and ‘radical’ and ‘pathetic’ to name a few.
The memo was called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”
As for a possible deal on the budget for the rest of this fiscal year, there were signs both pro and con on Tuesday about the issue, but no agreements.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters there would not be another short term budget extension, as GOP leaders tried to put the budget heat on Democrats.
“It’s been 38 days since the House passed H.R. 1, our plan to fund the government through the balance of this fiscal year ending September 30,” said Speaker John Boehner at a news conference.
“In these 38 days the Senate has failed to act on any plan that would fund the government through September 30.”
Boehner is correct about that. Other than two show votes after a few hours of debate on Democratic and Republican plans – neither of which got even a simple majority – the Senate hasn’t done much on budget cuts.
On the floor right now is a small business bill to which Republicans have offered a number of budget cutting amendments to, but so far, they have been unable to get votes on most of those same GOP amendments.
“At a time when our nation is facing a debt crisis, it is an outrage the Senate won’t even allow a vote on my amendment to eliminate the ethanol corporate welfare subsidy and save taxpayers nearly $5 billion,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has a string of amendments ready to go.
But he can’t get any votes.
So, the clock keeps ticking towards April 8. I’m sure that the statue of Clio, the Muse of Time, which sits in the old House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol, has seen this before.
Congressional spitballs are nothing new, after all.
And it’s sure better than canes.