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But the specific cuts weren’t released until early Tuesday morning, and Democrats are now arguing that they successfully blunted the GOP’s assault on spending.

“We fought for cuts, but they had to be smart cuts, cuts that would strengthen our economy instead of weakening it,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, told reporters.

He said criticism this week from radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh could help boost support for the deal among Senate Democrats.

The bill calls for the government to spend $1.049 trillion for the remainder of fiscal 2011, which is $37.7 billion lower than 2010 levels.

Still, the size of those cuts is dwarfed by the projected deficit, which is expected to be about $1.5 trillion this year. The deficit for March alone was $188 billion, or five times the cuts made in the full-year bill.

“There’s no philosophy guiding these cuts,” said Tad DeHaven, budget analyst at the Cato Institute, a think tank that pushes for limits to government. “It’s like they went through the books and cleared out the cobwebs, and found areas where they could save some money and get a deal done.”

Republicans, though, said they have managed to change the conversation in Washington, shifting from how much spending to how much cutting.

“The ground shifted,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican. “Spending reductions Democrats recently described as ‘extreme’ and ‘draconian,’ they are now calling ‘historic’ and ‘common sense.’ The debate has turned from how much to grow government to how much to reduce it.”