As Congress struggles to reach a budget deal, there is still a lot of low hanging budget fruit that could be cut by lawmakers, but it might be in areas that Republicans don't want to go.
So far, the Congress has cut $10 billion in spending while approving five weeks in temporary budgets for the federal government, with much of that coming in cuts to home state earmarks.
But lawmakers have avoided some prime earmark real estate as well.
Two areas with earmarks haven't been touched as yet by GOP cuts - home state projects in the spending bill for the military as well as in military construction and veterans spending - two areas that tend to be regarded as "off limits" by many in the Republican party when it comes to budget cuts.
Also not hit that hard so far has been spending in transportation and housing earmarks and in energy and water projects - all very popular spending in both parties.
Of the $10 billion in cuts made so far, just over $5.3 billion has come from earmarks, impacting "100 of 192 earmarked accounts across 9 of the 11 appropriations bills with earmarks" according to the Congressional Research Service.
In a memo sent to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), the CRS reports that "Only the Defense and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bills remain untouched by the reductions in earmarked accounts."
Remember, we are still working off a budget that was approved back in the fall of 2009, for the 2010 Fiscal Year, which ended September 30 of last year.
When the calendar ticks over to April later this week, we will be over halfway through the fiscal year - without a budget being finished.
Some Republicans would like to continue the incremental approach to budget cutting, by tapping more of these earmarks from the 2010 budget, and cutting them out for this year.
They argue that kind of plan has worked so far, as Democrats have been unable to mount a political defense against small cuts in the budget.
But more conservative and Tea Party lawmakers instead want to force a budget showdown now, though they don't have a majority in the Senate to force Democrats to accept deep cutbacks.
As for the budget battle, Democrats returned yesterday with broadsides against Republicans, trying to drive a wedge between GOP leaders and the Tea Party, as they accused the GOP of dragging their feet on budget talks.
"Get to work," was the summary jab of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who did his best to blister the GOP side in his first speech after an eleven day break.
If you haven't guessed, the forecast on Capitol Hill for the next ten days is a good chance of finger pointing, with a slight possibility of a real budget deal.