ONCE AGAIN, the federal government is days away from a shutdown. It is time for this silly brinkmanship to stop.
Republicans purport to be concerned about dealing with the budget deficit and securing spending cuts. If that is their goal, they ought to declare victory and move on to the serious work ahead.
Senate Democrats and the Obama administration appear prepared to cut $33 billion in spending — more than the amount originally proposed by House Republicans until their Tea Party wing revolted and demanded more. To insist on an arbitrary figure — $61 billion — derived from an arbitrary campaign goal — $100 billion — is sheer folly. So is wasting any more time arguing about this sliver of federal spending in a fiscal year that is already more than half over. Limping along from continuing resolution to continuing resolution is irresponsible; shutting down the government for days or weeks over this dispute would be even worse. The fiscal 2012 budget needs to be written; more important, it is time for the adult conversation on entitlement reform that both sides keep promising. The 2011 debate is a trivial sideshow to this main event.