It is clear that Democrats are trying to sucker Republicans into not making a deal on the 2010 budget so they can blame them for the government shutdown on April 9.
If Democrats were serious about working with Republicans, the president would have not given a speech last week on energy policy, he would have been shuffling Republican and Democratic leaders through the White House taking charge and making a deal. If Democrats were serious their point man on budget negotiations Vice President Biden would not have exited from ongoing talks with GOP and Democrat leadership, for a trip to Russia followed by a four-day ski vacation in Colorado.
Democrats want a government shut down and already have their talking points down. Instead of working in good faith to reach a compromise, Democrats in the House, Senate and White House were crafting a public relations offensive blaming the Tea Party for the failure to reach a 2011 budget compromise with Republicans.
Just last week, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was caught red-handed schooling his fellow Democrats in their "blame game" strategy. As Schumer was preparing to participate in a conference call with reporters, the phone line was already open, so reporters could hear him finishing up his cabal with Democrats.
This is what Schumer advised:
"The main thrust is basically that we want to negotiate and we want to come up with a compromise but the Tea Party is pulling Boehner too far over to the right."
"I always use the word extreme," said Schumer, the third-ranking Senate Democrat who is in charge of his party's political messaging. "That's what the caucus instructed me to do the other week."
Isn"t the Democratic Caucus suppose to be working on preventing a government shut down instead of laying the ground work for one?
It became quite clear that his colleagues quickly acted upon Schumer's lessons because following his briefing this is what his students parroted to anyone who would listen:
As if on cue, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, urged Boehner "to abandon the extreme right wing of his Republican caucus and come and compromise with us."
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, Blames the Tea Party when he accuses "some of our right-wing extremist friends in the House" for not making a budget deal.
Then there was, Sen. Ben Cardin, (D-Md.), He urged Boehner that "this is not about satisfying the extreme elements of the Republican caucus."
Republicans better be smart enough not to take the Democrats' bait with regard to shutting down the government. Republicans need to play chess not Russian roulette when it comes to the 2011 budget negotiations. When playing chess a player must not only think about the move he or she makes they must think three moves ahead and anticipate their opponent's moves. When you play Russian roulette long enough someone is bound to get hurt.
With only 5 month to go in the 2011 budget cycle, this is no longer about getting a 2011 budget, it should be about the next battles, the raising of the debt limit and the 2012 budget.
Republicans should make the best deal they can, call the Democrats' budget bluff for 2011 and then hunker down for a bare-knuckle fight over the debt ceiling and the passing of a 2012 budget. And they should get to work on this ASAP.
If there is no budget compromise on the 2011 budget and the government does shut down, the president, (who will by then be an announced candidate for re-election), will travel the country showing the American people the "damage" that is being caused to our economy and deflect the blame to Republicans. House and Senate members will return to their districts and do the same. And I can promise you the media will be a more than willing partner to blame the Tea Party and give Democrats the kind of coverage they seek.
Republicans must act smartly. You can win the battle but lose the war. Their mission now should be a laser-like focus on the 2012 budget -- they need to work on eliminating waste, cutting government spending and dealing with entitlements like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid once and for all.
Let's face it: the cuts proposed by both Republicans and Democrats of $60+ billion or $30+ billion dollars respectively are a mere pittance in government spending compared to a $4 trillion dollar annual budget. This is a huge game of chicken, and Democrats are betting that Republicans will flinch first.
Republicans would be wise to put the 2011 budget to bed and then hop on the Paul Ryan 2012 budget train. Representative Paul Ryan, (R-Wis), is the Chairman of the House Budget Committee and will unveil this week a 2012 budget plan that will rein in current government spending, and reduce the deficit by 4 trillion dollars over the next 10 years.
Representative Ryan's budget plan exceeds the recommendations of the president's own bipartisan Debt Commission. Recommendations, the onese President Obama himself has rejected as being too aggressive.
Ryan's plan not only deals with current spending levels, but it tackles the root causes of our untenable long-term debt, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. While Ryan seeks to raise the age of retirement none of his recommendations would adversely affect anyone over the current retirement age or the poor.
Republicans need to realize that their long term goals of real and substantial fiscal responsibility is more important than a short term gain that could be seen as a loss in the big picture by the American people.
Republicans need to remind the public that President Obama was unable to pass his budget when his party controlled the White House, the Senate and the House with high majorities.
Here is my plea to my fellow Republicans: Make the deal, whatever deal you can in 2011 and live to fight and win the main battle in 2012. You will not be blamed for compromising on the 2011 budget. The American people understand that you can't negotiate with a gun to your head while time is running out to make the deal you were fighting so hard for.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion.
Bradley A. Blakeman is a political consultant and Republican Media Consultant and was a member of President George W. Bush's Senior White House Staff 2001-2004. Follow him on Twitter @BlakemanB.