FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
The prospect of a federal government shutdown this Friday is hanging over the heads of lawmakers.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/04/04/art.fiscal.jpg caption="House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan."]
You see, they still can't agree on spending cuts for the 2011 fiscal year budget.
They've been pushing this off since October, and they're still not much closer to reaching an agreement.
President Obama has summoned congressional leaders to the White House on Tuesday, but don't hold your breath.
Meanwhile, a much, much bigger budget battle is shaping up.
Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, the new chairman of the House Budget Committee, is expected to release the House Republicans' 2012 budget resolution Tuesday.
Ryan's plan calls for cutting the federal deficit by $4 trillion over the next decade - far exceeding what President Obama's debt commission called for in December.
The Ryan plan calls for tax reforms and across-the-board spending cuts, returning discretionary spending to 2006 levels.
It will also dramatically change the Medicare program.
Ryan's plan is the first one to touch the so-called entitlement programs.
It's a politically dangerous move, but a necessary one.
By the end of this fiscal year, the national debt will exceed $15.4 trillion.
The necessity of cutting spending and addressing our debt crisis may finally be getting legs. A bipartisan group of senators known as the "Gang of Six" is also working on a proposal to cut the deficit by $4 trillion using recommendations made by President Obama's deficit commission - recommendations that have been ignored so far.
Here’s my question to you: Do you think Republicans are getting serious about making meaningful cuts in federal spending?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
David in Alexandria, Virginia:
I think they are very serious. The back and forth over the current budget is just the warm-up act. The real fireworks will start next week when the Paul Ryans of the world will start talking reality about our fiscal crisis.
Bonnie in New Jersey:
I hope so and I somewhat hope not. I know we have to have reform in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, but why can't we also have some revenue increase from the richest? It is so clear at this point that their gain over the last 10 years has come at the cost of the country. Why can't they share the burden? The Republicans are protecting the rich, the Democrats are protecting the poor, and no one is looking out for the middle class. We can't bear the entire burden.
Deb in Montana:
No. The only things the GOP is serious about are: protecting their big money donors, eviscerating the middle class, and trying to prevent President Obama's re-election, even if they have to derail our recovery to do it. It's interesting how today's GOP has never seen a billionaire's tax cut it didn't love, and has never seen a social program to help the struggling middle class that it couldn't wait to kill.
Steve in Clifton, Virginia:
Jack, please don't use the phases "meaningful" and "budget cuts" together when referring to the Republicans. Those two terms can be used together only when the Republicans and Democrats conduct transparent open serious discussions on the Defense budget, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
Alex in Bremerton, Washington:
Republicans are very serious about cutting the budget because they know that if they don't they will face a Tea Party primary challenge in the next election.
Pete in Georgia:
The Republicans will be very serious but the Harry Reids of the world can't survive 2 days without hand outs, giveaways, always feeding cradle-to-grave parasites to continue their desperate, pathetic charade posing as "Civil Servants." The only way these empty vessel politicians exist is give away handouts at the expense of decent, hard-working, legal tax paying Americans.