Monday, November 27, 2006

Truly sickening speculation

Budget expert Stan Collender predicts the following nauseating sequence of events in budgetary politics next year:

"The Republican ... [current] budget strategy points to a number of things happening early next year.

"First, there will probably be a big confrontation between the White House and Congress on the budget early in the year. The fighting and rhetoric could be vicious. No matter what spending levels are approved by the Democrat-controlled Congress, the White House and congressional Republicans will try to label them as excessive and Democrats will respond that they are better than what Republicans would have produced....

"Second, although few people are talking about it yet, a government shutdown early next year is possible. The best way for Democrats to take away the advantage the veto will give the president will be to send him bills that he will have a very hard time not signing. The way to do this on the punt, pass and kick strategy will be to combine the remaining FY07 appropriations into a single omnibus bill and to send it to the White House just hours before the continuing resolution expires.

"That would force the White House either to agree with the spending levels or to take the blame for shutting down almost all federal domestic departments and agencies. That proved to be politically devastating in 1995 for a group of congressional Republicans who were far more popular, had a higher job approval rating and better fiscal credentials and spokespeople than the current administration. It's hard to imagine how a government shutdown in 2007 would turn out any better.

"Third, the [Republican's current] budget strategy is almost guaranteed to eliminate any possibility of increased political comity at the start of the 110th Congress. Instead, it means that there will be a series of bitter fights between longtime rivals and few will be shaking hands with their counterparts at the end of the game."

Sounds all too plausible to me. Indeed, it's hard to imagine, given who they are, why Bush and Rove wouldn't do this.

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