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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

The Bottomless Crack Pipe

As all you budget junkies know, the Senate followed up its rejection of the essential PAYGO amendment to the congressional budget resolution by approving amendments taking out instructions to cut Medicaid and Community Development Block Grants.While I join most Democrats in applauding the Medicaid and CDBG votes (which, among other things, have maintained a slender hope that the whole budget exercise, which will actually increase the federal deficit, will go down in another intra-GOP dispute), there’s no question the overall outcome was intellectually incoherent.Mark Schmitt deserves major props for unraveling these votes, and nailing the four Republican Senators who voted against PAYGO and for rescinding the Medicaid cuts: Sens. Norm Coleman, Gordon Smith, Mike DeWine and Arlen Specter.These aren’t brave “moderates” fighting Bush’s budget priorities; they are either (a) free-lunchers who want to support popular spending and tax cuts simultaneously, or (b) starve-the-beasters who want to constrain government without the political grief involved in specifying actual cuts. And actually, (a) and (b) are pretty much the same thing–which is why I always say Bush’s fiscal policies offer Republicans the political equivalent of a bottomless crack pipe.

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