Mission Impassable

by Miles Leicher

I’d be lying if I told you I knew what topics were going to be discussed on tonight’s show – that’s up to Bill Maher and his Magic 8 Ball. But if you’ve walked past a newspaper in the past few days, you’re probably aware that Democrats and Republicans are in the midst of a budget standoff. The Dems are fighting against the sorts of drastic cuts called for by conservatives; which include programs like the EPA, Planned Parenthood and NPR. You know, anything that helps people breathe, stay healthy or learn s**t.

When it comes to spending, as Bill likes to say, those costs are “the teeny tiny sprig of parsley on a plate full of fried chicken, mac n’ cheese and mashed potatoes (a.k.a. Social Security, Medicare and Defense).” Of course, both parties are going to help themselves to the rest of the plate, but at least the Democrats are going to eat the parsley too. Partly out of guilt, but mostly because they’re a bunch of vegetable-loving hippies.  

House Speaker John Boehner said that “there’s no daylight between” himself and the Tea Party when it comes to these negotiations. That can’t be right…the tannest man in America let something come between him and daylight?

Really though, it isn’t right. The Tea Party professes to be all about spending (that’s why they blow their hard-earned money on powdered wigs, tri-corner hats and Gadsden flags). It’s a numbers game for them and, in reality, the numbers haven’t ever been very far apart in these negotiations. In fact, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) claimed that, “At one point we had an agreement on money, even though Boehner denies it.” Or what’s known in Washington as “getting Boehned.”

What it comes down to is that the numbers are being held hostage. The conservative leadership wants nothing more than to see community health programs, environmental regulation and public broadcasting disappear from the federal ledger, regardless of the miniscule amount of the budget they command. It isn’t over yet, but I’ve got to at least applaud the Dems for standing and fighting for once. On everything else – from tax cuts for the rich to civilian trials for Guantanamo detainees - they crumpled so fast that I couldn’t tell if they were debating the Republicans or dancing with Kirstie Alley.

Look at is this way: if the government shuts down and you’re spending the weekend not going to a national park, not getting your tax refund and not being monitored by your probation officer (yay!), you can at least appreciate the vague feeling that we sort of have two political parties again.