Steve Benen really nails it. Go read the rest:
At face value, congressional Republicans went into budget talks playing a strikingly weak hand. They’re an unpopular party, pushing unpopular spending cuts, going up against a more popular president. Of the three main players — the House, the Senate, and the White House — the GOP controls about one-half of one-third of the relevant institutions.
And yet, who seems to be calling the shots here?
The New York Times had an interesting summary of the lay of the land, emphasizing the fact that Democrats seem to realize they let this debate slip away from them.
Both parties remain uncertain about which of them would bear the brunt of public anger if Congress cannot agree on financing federal operations for the final half of this fiscal year and government agencies shut down or drastically scale back the services they can provide.
Even many Democrats believe that House Republicans have gotten the better of the antispending, antigovernment argument. But Democrats insist that is because much of the public does not appreciate the impact the Republicans’ $61 billion in proposed reductions would have on spending for popular social programs if those cuts were to become law with just half of the current fiscal year remaining.
Democrats are right; most of the country has no idea the extent to which the GOP’s proposed cuts would be devastating to key domestic priorities. These are cuts that, if put to a poll, the vast majority of the American mainstream would reject out of hand.
But here’s another thought: maybe most of the country has no idea how brutal these cuts are because Dems haven’t told them.