A war of words over the federal budget dominated the Sunday talk shows following the House of Representative’s passage of a 2011 budget bill on Saturday that calls for cuts of $61 billion from a range of programs. There was little talk of specifics as, despite mentions of compromise, both sides danced around the potential for a government shutdown in a showdown over the budget.
On This Week with Christiane Amanpour, Democratic political strategist and former Clinton Administration official Donna Brazile called the proposed budget “primal scream politics.” She added that the budget cut “essential, vital, necessary services,” termed cuts that included such items as Pell grants and Head Start “draconian,” and said that cutting $61 billion at current spending levels was “bad for the country. It’s bad for the economy. And it slows down economic growth at a time when things are finally moving up.”
While George Will said that Democrats would have to decide “whether, out of a $3.7 trillion budget, there isn't $60 billion of inessential spending,” the talk quickly moved on to the possibility of a government shutdown. Senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl said that it was a real possibility, citing the short timeline for Congress to work out an agreement before the expiration of the existing continuing resolution that funds the government.
Karl said that, although Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Oh.) has said privately that he will not allow a government shutdown, “[t]he House and the Senate are gone for the next week. They have four days when they get back to work out some kind of an agreement. [under the 2011 Continuing Resolution, the working budget for the Federal government expires on March 4 absent action by the Congress]. Karl said bluntly on Sunday: “If they don't do it by the end of the four days, we are at a government shutdown.”