FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Democratic and Republican lawmakers returned to work today and they've got a big deadline looming.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/02/28/art.budget.jpg caption="President Obama unveiled his 2012 budget earlier this month."]
If Congress doesn't reach an agreement on spending cuts by Friday, the government will face a shutdown for the first time in 15 years.
The House already approved $61 billion in spending cuts in a measure passed earlier this month, but Senate Democrats have said that the proposed cuts go too far and that they will not vote in favor of them.
So the Republicans have proposed an interim spending plan that would give Congress a two-week extension. It would involve just $4 billion in cuts and would keep the government funded until March 18.
I wonder if they'll ever stop playing games and actually address our country's fiscal condition in a serious way.
Our national debt has now surpassed $14 trillion - a staggering sum that will never be repaid. And every day the government refuses to do anything about it, it just gets larger. We are bankrupt.
This weekend, Speaker of the House John Boehner called the national debt a "moral threat" to this country and said people "better start praying."
It will take more than prayers. It will take guts… the kind being displayed by people like the governors of Wisconsin and New Jersey.
Here’s my question to you: Do you think the federal government will ever agree to meaningful cuts in spending?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
Since "meaningful" cuts mean cutting the grossly obese Defense Department budget, it'd be a very brave politician to ever call for that kind of discipline. Defense, agricultural and energy 'support' payments, and a sensible approach to Medicare and Medicaid (starting with really cracking down on fraud). Those are the cuts we need. We'll not see them soon.
Alex in Bremerton, Washington:
The short answer is, "Not if they want to get re-elected." The Tea Party talks a good enough game about "common sense spending cuts" to get elected, but they never mentioned any specifics during the 2010 campaign. Because any specific cuts would have cost them the votes of the constituency dependent on that government program.
I think we've had this conversation. The answer is only at the point of the whole world unraveling will they do anything. They don’t care. They’re all millionaires, and it makes them feel important. A divided country keeps them in power and us powerless to do anything meaningful about it. We actually have very little control over anything or anybody.
Rick in Medina, Ohio:
Jack, the real 'guts' won't be about budget cutting; it will be about changing some pre-conceived notions. We don't have a chance without an overhaul of the tax codes, a re-ordering of what National Defense really means, and a willingness to deal with the vastly different actuarial realities that have tanked Social Security and Medicare. We're not just broke... we're in total denial.
Ken in North Carolina:
Democrats say 61 billion is to much. Republicans say 61 billion is not enough. The problem is that neither is willing to compromise. Like Moammar Gadhafi, they think the people love them.
Not as long as there is still space between their backs and the wall!