This week, President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have said they're willing to pass a continuing resolution that funds the government at the level Republicans want.
"They keep moving the goal posts and won’t even accept their own number," House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said following a meeting at the White House on Wednesday. "As Leader Reid said: 'if they don’t take yes for an answer,' then I can only conclude that they’ve wanted to shut down government."
But Democratic leaders gloss over the fact they're not willing to accept a "clean" continuing resolution at "the Republican number" for more than six weeks. Democratic senator Chuck Schumer of New York told THE WEEKLY STANDARD Thursday that Democrats still intend to reverse the spending cuts they agreed to in 2011 debt-ceiling deal:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Senator Schumer, you agreed to $988 billion through the next six weeks. Would that number work for 2014 as well? Could that be continued?
SCHUMER: No. I mean when we have full-time negotiations, I'm sure our negotiators will want a higher number. And remember if it's $988 and when sequestration kicks in, which it does automatically, all of the cuts are in defense. So we think there may be some grounds, once we get to a conference on full-year funding, for compromise.
TWS: What number would you like?
SCHUMER: I'm not going to negotiate here in public.
In other words, if Republicans agree to a six-week continuing resolution now, they would be setting themselves up for another confrontation over spending in November in which they could lose the cuts Democrats agreed to in 2011. Although Republicans don't want to lose those cuts, they have expressed willingness to replace some, which are particularly devastating to defense, with modest entitlement and budget reforms.
As the Wall Street Journal reports: "House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said Tuesday that Republicans want to maintain the amount of deficit reduction achieved by the sequester. But he left the door open to a broader budget deal. 'Our goal and motivation all along has been to get to a budget agreement…that pays down our debt, that has pro-growth economic policies to create jobs, to make sure that we can deal with the sequester."