Driving the Week: Who’ll Blink?

Don’t blink.  That’s the mantra for conservatives, both in Washington and around the country in places like Wisconsin.  We are witnessing, perhaps, a defining moment in American politics; a real recognition that the status quo cannot continue.  If our values are to carry the day, our conservative representatives cannot backtrack on their promise to cut spending.

Over the weekend, rumors and reports suggested that Senate Democrats and President Obama might be willing to accept the two-week funding measure proposed by House Republicans that would cut $4 billion in spending.  Considering they had been arguing that a spending freeze is the same thing as a spending cut, this is progress.

As we’ve pointed out, if you cut $4 billion every two weeks for the remainder of the year, you’ll end up with about $61 billion, which is what the House passed a couple weeks ago.

On Sunday, the Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-ND) said, “It is acceptable to me to have $4 billion in savings in a two-week package.”  That’s great, but does the chairman and his colleagues believe the cuts should stop there?

If you listen to the ranking member of the House Budget Committee Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the answer appears to be yes.  This weekend, he said, “cooler heads on the Republican side have prevailed, they have decided not to go for an immediate $61 billion in cuts.”  Assuming the President and Congressional Democrats embrace these real – albeit minor – cuts, Mr. Van Hollen is already laying the groundwork for the next standoff.

This is gut check time for conservatives.  After missing their initial target (rolling non-security discretionary spending back to 2008 levels), House Republicans cannot compromise further on their cuts.  THEY CANNOT BLINK.

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