Government Shutdown Chicken

That didn’t take long. On the first business day since House Republicans approved $61 billion in cuts, Senate Democrats made clear they wanted no part of those Republican budget reductions.

“Speaker Boehner should stop drawing lines in the sand, and come to the table to find a responsible path forward that cuts government spending while keeping our communities safe and our economy growing,” Senate Leader Harry Reid said in a salvo directed at the House GOP.

Reid’s statement made very clear that both parties are not on the same page at all when it comes to figuring out how to keep the government running and whether that plan should include some budget cuts.

Reid said that instead of bringing up the House GOP budget package approved last week, he would put a “clean CR” on the Senate floor next week to keep the government running for 30 days.

A “clean CR” means that Democrats would keep the government funded for 30 days under current budget levels – which means no cutbacks.

Republicans quickly made clear that was unacceptable, as Boehner vowed to send the Senate a short term CR that had some cuts.

“Senate Democratic leaders are insisting on a status quo that has left us with a mountain of debt and a stalled economy with unemployment near 10 percent. That is not a credible position,” said the House Speaker in his own written statement.

One thing in the dueling statements that raised some eyebrows was when Sen. Reid talked about how the Senate version of the CR will include “$41 billion in budget cuts that Democrats and Republicans agreed to in December.”

$41 billion in cuts that were agreed to in December??

I didn’t remember that one, but then the answer became crystal clear after a little legislative review.

Remember how Republicans said they were cutting $100 billion in their bill, but that was not a real “cut” – because it was pegged to President Obama’s budget from last year?

Well, Democrats are doing the same thing. They say when both parties agreed to a temporary budget plan to keep the government running into early March, they were “approving” $41 billion in cuts, because the stop-gap budget would be $41 billion less than the President’s budget request – a budget request that was never enacted.

In other words, the Democrats say they are cutting $41 billion, but really aren’t cutting anything.

So, the bottom line here is that Democrats won’t bring up the GOP budget cutting bill next week, daring Republicans to allow a government shutdown.

Republicans meanwhile are planning to send a short term budget to the Senate, with some cutbacks in it, to keep the government running for 30 days, daring Democrats to allow a government shutdown.

Welcome to the 2011 Version Legislative Chicken, The Government Shutdown Edition.