The Don’t-Tread-on-Meter: Standoff

Republicans win a tiny skirmish in the staring contest over a possible shutdown.

Don’t-Tread-on-Meter: March 1, 2011:41

Time flies when you’re taking biweekly recesses. In the time between their last votes and their votes today, congressional Republicans have nudged Congress closer to a budget showdown, and closer – temporarily – to a compromise they get the better half of.

On Friday, Republicans proposed a two-week continuing resolution that would keep the government operating while cutting $4 billion. Democrats, blinking a bit, tentatively agreed to pass it. That kicks the can down the road on the budget showdown that Republicans are demanding, but it’s a mighty short road.

Not everyone is happy with the impasse. First off, there’s that “uncertainty” that Republicans occasionally blame for economic angst. “Regardless of party,” conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin told CNN, “it’s just bad governance. A pox on both their houses.” Second, the showdown, if it comes, will come over $61 billion of cuts, or 61 percent of what Republicans promised in the 2010 campaign.

But just think of how far the debate has come. As Jed Lewison pointed out on Monday, Tim Pawlenty faced a possible shutdown in 2005, in Minnesota. He accused Democrats of cynicism and declined the bait. Over the weekend, he told a reporter that he regretted not forcing a shutdown. Republicans aren’t afraid of a shutdown anymore; when they talk about the 1995 shutdown with Bill Clinton, they all turn into Sylvester Stallone at the start of Rambo. (“Do we get to win this time?”) They’re girded for the fight; the Meter rises accordingly, to 41.

What Is the Don’t-Tread-on-Meter?
It will track the progress (or lack thereof) of the Republican House of Representatives, and the Republican conference in the Senate, in fulfilling the promises they made to Tea Party activists. The meter will hit 100 if and when the GOP does absolutely everything it promised.

You can now add the Don’t-Tread-on-Meter to your blog or site. Just click the button in the lower right of the widget to get the code.