With the prospect of a government shutdown so real the White House has ordered government agencies to batten down the hatches, it’s hard to believe all this is over a few billion dollars. House Republicans are insisting on more cuts than President Obama has agreed to, and if both sides can’t get together by Friday, it’s going to be a sour spring.

Obama is willing to cut $33 billion from this year’s budget. House Speaker John Boehner wants to double that, or, in the meantime, cut $12 billion to keep the United States open for business one more week.

The numbers are tiny when compared with the budget as a whole — and the Republicans’ larger ambitions. Paul Ryan, chairman of the Budget Committee, recently unveiled his plan to rewrite the tax code (to the benefit of the wealthy and corporations) and slash roughly $5 trillion in federal spending over 10 years.

We spend trillions, we borrow trillions, Republicans want to cut trillions — how did we end up with a stalemate over a few billion?

It seems this budget battle has a lot more to do with posturing than governing. Pity millions of Americans have to pay the price. — PZS

Sources: BBC, New York Times, Reuters, Los Angeles Times

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